Mobile messaging and calling application Viber has acquired Nextpeer, an Israel-based social gaming startup, for $9 million, reports TechCrunch. The startup offers games developers an SDK to incorporate social gaming features into their apps. Post acquisition, the SDK and related services will stay online and be expanded to work with Viber. All of Nextpeer’s 12 employees will join the company.
This is Viber’s first acquisition, and comes over a year after the company was itself acquired by the Japanese membership based Internet services company Rakuten for $900 million. Viber has since focussed on introducing gaming elements to its application, and had rolled out in-app games to all users globally earlier in February. At launch, the platform released three games as standalone apps, which could be downloaded from the Play Store or iTunes. The games could also link up to Viber to let users share scores, battle and generally interact with friends on the service.
How Nextpeer works: Nextpeer’s SDK works by letting developers integrate social elements into their games. It enables users to share their progress on various social media websites while also enabling players playing the same game to chat with each other. Developers can also use the SDK to integrate multiplayer elements into the game either synchronously (live, at the same time) or asynchronously (turn based). It also offers a hybrid format where users are pitted against simulated opponents when live players are not available. The SDK supports four game engines and is available on both iOS and Android platforms.
As of now, Nextpeer offers a freemium SDK service with a free tier which displays ads to users, a ‘studio tier’ that limits the monthly active users while offering more customization and no ads for $199 per month and an ‘enterprise tier’ that offers custom pricing based on usage and size. As of now, the company claims to have over 8,000 registered users for its SDK platform.
This acquisition should enable Viber to integrate its games with its chat app, letting users communicate with each other, share their progress, play multiplayer etc. Note that Viber already has some social features like sharing scores, battle etc. This acquisition will make it even easier for the platform to create games with social integration.
Public chats: In November last year, Viber introduced public chats, which allows users to follow and interact with personalities, celebrities and brands. These public chats, which are essentially group chats viewable by anyone on the service, allow only a limited number of users to post messages, pictures, stickers and videos. In India, Viber had teamed up with Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Saina Nehwal for this initiative.