Facebook looks to lure third-party indie developers in mobile games push

Facebook(s FB) announced a new program on Tuesday that looks to attract independent mobile game developers to its platform. Developers who join the Mobile Games Publishing platform will get marketing help from Facebook to reach the social network’s more than 800 million monthly active mobile users.
This is how Facebook describes the new program on its developer site:

Mobile Games Publishing is a new pilot program to help small and medium-sized developers take their mobile games global. Through the program, we will work with select game developers and provide promotional support for their games in placements across our mobile apps.

Techcrunch, which first reported that Facebook was looking into opening a mobile games platform, says the social network has already landed 10 educational game titles. Facebook’s developer site notes it’s looking for games ¬†of all genres, however. So far, Facebook hasn’t revealed how it will share revenue with developers that participate.
Games are by far the most popular category of mobile apps, according to Distimo. iOS(s AAPL) game developers especially have become very successful as a group, turning to free downloads and using in-app purchases to drive revenue. But there’s plenty of evidence that this freemium model seems to benefit large developers and game makers the most, while smaller, independent developers, even those with high-quality games, have struggled with it.
What’s interesting is that Facebook’s effort comes at a time when some independent developers on the iOS platform are starting to rethink how they market and drive revenue to their apps on Apple’s increasingly crowded platform.
It’s true that Apple is paying out more money than ever to mobile developers: $11 billion total in the five years the App Store has existed, with $5 billion just in 2012 alone. But while more money is being paid out, it’s going to an increasingly larger pool of developers — more than 900,000 apps are now on the App Store. This number is good from Apple’s perspective because it shows the benefits of its platform overall, but some smaller developers have told me that their revenues are beginning to plateau as the competition on iOS becomes fiercer.
Android(s GOOG) is increasingly a viable, profitable option for developers after years of being hard to monetize. Apple, meanwhile, is starting to roll out better tools to help developers better target their app ads. But Facebook is coming in at a time when iOS developer, especially the smaller ones just starting out, may greatly benefit from the extra advertising help of the mobile social giant, especially before it gets too crowded.