SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook wants a cut of the revenue from the mobile games business.
The company today said it plans to take a role beyond its position of games platform to that of promoter and publisher. Facebook's new pilot program, dubbed Mobile Games Publishing, will allow it to promote small- and medium-sized games and take a cut in the sales in return.
"We are invested in the success of these games, and in exchange for a revenue share, we will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them attract high-quality, long-term players for their games," Facebook said in a blog post.
Facebook shares rose 5.6% at $37.43 in trading, approaching the company's IPO price of $38.
The world's largest social network will use its massive 800-plus million monthly users of its mobile apps as a vehicle to drive the reach of these games with promotional support.
"While it's hard to precisely estimate the revenue opportunity at the outset, this is a great opportunity for game publishers/developers and a strong opportunity for Facebook as well," Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling says. "Obviously, games are a category that is very much bound up with the history and growth of Facebook engagement."
Games helped Facebook post blockbuster second-quarter results last week. Its payments revenue increased 11%, with games accounting for 7% of that revenue, in the period compared with a year ago.
Facebook also announced the first 10 developer participants in the program. They are 5th Planet, Brainbow, Certain Affinity, Dragonplay, Gameloft, Gamevil, KiwiGames, Outplay Entertainment, Space Ape and We Made Entertainment.
The move serves a blow to Zynga's troubled online games business. Shares of Zynga traded nearly 1% lower at $3 today.