Russia’s I-Jet Media launches new social game platform (exclusive)

Russian game company I-Jet Media is launching a new platform for social games today at the GDC Europe game conference in Germany.

Dubbed I-Jet Connect,the platform is designed to enable social game developers to manage their games on dozens and eventually hundreds of social networks across the world, said Alexey Kostarev (pictured below), chief executive and co-founder of I-Jet Media. The strategy is built on the idea that Facebook won’t dominate the entire world and that the number of social networks will actually multiply. It will be an interesting test of whether a company born in Russia can become a major player on the global gaming stage.

I-Jet Connect will let social game developers publish their games on multiple global or local social networks, manage their traffic, and insert brand ads into their apps. It does so through a high degree of automation of what otherwise be a painstaking process for developers. (The company spells its name i-Jet Media and refers to its platform as i-Jet Connect).

The Ekaterinburg, Russia-based company will conduct a closed beta test from Aug. 15 until November. Developers can register for the beta on the company’s web site. I-Jet Media is already one of the world’s largest distribution networks and publishers of social games. It has several dozen social games with an audience of 70 million users. Right now, I-Jet Media can publish titles across 30 social networks.

In Europe, there are multiple social networks that are holding their own against Facebook, Kostarev said in a talk earlier this year at Casual Connect game conference in Germany. That is why it could be a good strategy for game developers to release their games not only on Facebook, but on multiple social networks.

Too often, though, the developers don’t have enough resources to cover multiple platforms. Kostarev said his company’s distribution network can reach the right social networks and take the problem of tweaking the titles for each platform off the hands of the developers. I-Jet Connect essentially automates the process of publishing.

I-Jet Connect is integrated with an independent ad management system called AdRiver. So developers can make money not only via micro-transactions but also through the placement of ads in their games. That also lifts a burden from developers so they don’t have to worry about integrating ads into their games themselves.

I-Jet Connect also promises to help grow traffic for games through a large cross-promotion network. If a developer has already released a game on Germany’s VZnet Networks, but doesn’t have a big audience, then I-Jet Connect could do a swap. It can promote the developer’s game via one of I-Jet’s own popular games, and vice versa. I-Jet Connect also lets developers purchase targeted traffic on any social network, mainly by targeted people who already play social games.

I-Jet Media has 150 employees, with office in Sunnyvale, Calif., Russia, China and Luxembourg. The company was founded in 2005 and it competes with rivals such as Viximo, 6waves Lolapps and Applifier. But Kostarev says that no one offers the range of broad services that I-Jet can.

The company has undisclosed private equity investors and it is raising money right now. Kostarev started the company with Dmitry Shubin as an offshoot of their internet service provider company. They made social games starting in 2007 (starting with the game Maffia New) and became one of the largest makers of social games in Russia. In 2009, I-Jet Media began publishing games created by third-party developers. One of those games, Happy Harvest, became one of the most poplar and profitable titles in the Russian market. Now I-Jet Media works with 40 game developers and has published 80 social games on 30 social networks.