GamesBeat

PlayFirst scoops up social targeting firm in acqui-hire (exclusive)

Above: PlayFirst Big Head Mode

Image Credit: PlayFirst

PlayFirst has acquired the two-person startup Big Head Mode to improve its capability to target its players with useful cross promotions.

San Francisco-based PlayFirst is also hiring the founders of Big Head Mode. Tipatat Chennavasin will join PlayFirst as director of product management, and Richard Au will be PlayFirst’s senior director of engineering. PlayFirst chief exec Marco DeMiroz said in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat that Big Head Mode’s capability to predict the behavior and tastes of gamers makes it relevant to PlayFirst, which wants to effectively cross-promote its games to players who are likely to accept the promotions.

Big Head Mode (formerly GameFace) is a company that collects data about players — who willingly share that information through opt-in networks such as Facebook — and melds together their social graph attributes with mobile apps. Big Head Mode analyzes a player’s behavior and tastes in games and makes predictions based on them. In that sense, it’s similar to third-party analytics and prediction firms such as Kontagent, Flurry, Playnomics, and Apsalar. But this is a case where DeMiroz believes PlayFirst can have some advantages by bringing the technology in-house.

DeMiroz said the firms met each other through an investor. The technology will enable the personalization of gaming by taking social network data and photos and bring them into a game in a relevant way. That makes a game more emotionally engaging, Chennavasin said. At the same time, DeMiroz said the company will protect a user’s privacy and comply with various regulations as needed. PlayFirst will not share any of its data on players with third parties, DeMiroz said.

“Mobile games can be even more fun and engaging when they take on personalized, social attributes. We are thrilled to join up with PlayFirst to bring these new approaches to the mass, global audiences that love to play PlayFirst games,” said Chennavasin, the former CEO of Big Head Mode.

Chennavasin said his company was building the social technology into its own games, but there weren’t enough users to truly put the algorithms to the test. PlayFirst, the maker of the Diner Dash games, already has 15 million monthly active players, and so it can better exploit the Big Head Mode technology.


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