Exclusive: Smeet to lay off half its technical staff. Is Facebook policy change killing off social gaming?


Smeet, the Berlin-based 3D social networking site and social gaming publisher is reportedly laying off half of its technical team today, due to key changes in Facebook policy, making it more difficult and expensive for games publishers to exist on its platform.

Hailed as “Europe’s largest 3D interactive social platform”, Smeet currently has over 110 employees working from Umspannwerk building in Kreuzberg, although it is claimed that as many as half this number may be cut due to the decision to close its second product line of developing and publishing social games on Facebook.


“Social games on Facebook became difficult to turn a profit”

Smeet provides various online gaming and entertainment options to users, allowing them to play games, watch live webstreams and live text or chat as an in-browser experience. Similar to Second Life at its peak, Smeet was powerful enough to attract major brands, such as Rocawear, The Big Bang Theory and Gossip Girl to its fold.

A large part of its recent development, however, was in Facebook gaming, with its first social game on Facebook, Lost Legacies, chalking up around 180,000 daily active users and more than 1.2 million monthly users.

Sebastian Funke

Sebastian Funke, CEO and founder of Smeet told VentureVillage in a statement today that “the monetisation of the game and its users stayed behind the expectations… especially after recent Facebook policy changes” – essentially making it more costly and difficult for publishers to gain visibility within the platform with existing titles, a problem that has also been faced by big-name publishers such as Zynga.

He added: “The social gaming space has become more and more difficult, marketing activities become increasingly expensive and retention and activity of the users continuously decreases on the Facebook platform.”

So what next for Smeet?

But it’s not game over for Smeet just yet. Funke maintains that despite this blow “the Smeet management has decided to concentrate on core activities including its 3D platform Smeet and its partnerships with large web portals and TV networks”.

It hasn’t been disclosed exactly how many members have lost their jobs and Funke claims: We are not laying off people immediately. They are still in the company and we try to outplace them over the next weeks”,  although one staff member at the company said that there has been an “emergency staff meeting” today, going on to say that it was a day when “half of your company [is gone] in a single afternoon”.

Smeet began life in 2006, and in an interview with VentureVillage in March of this year, Funke claimed that it had 15 million users worldwide, represented in over 15 countries and “growing at a rate of 40,000 new registrations a day”. Its Facebook community is nearly 800,000 and it has received over €8M in funding to date.

For related articles, check out:

German gaming giant Bigpoint lets go 120 employees
Stepping into Smeet
Sebastian Funke interview