You’ve just built the best Zombie-Ninja-gardening game for Facebook. The game was steadily gaining popularity and then you were “boingboinged.” Two minutes later your servers melted and your users moved on to the next game.  For most, this kind of disaster spells the end to a promising start.  To deal with this volatility, developers can rely on Windows Azure to provide a platform that lets them focus on development and the business model, and scale in the face of unpredictable demand.

Today at Seattle Casual Connect, we announced the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. This toolkit includes accelerators, common libraries, and deployment tools to help developers quickly get started building social games.  Additionally, the toolkit provides samples and guidance for other scenarios, such as using Facebook credits to monetize a game.

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games also comes with a new proof-of-concept game call Tankster from industry innovator Grant Skinner and his team at gskinner.com. This game is built with HTML5 and comes complete with reusable server side code and documentation. It also supports a variety of ways gamers can interact with each other, such as messaging, wall posts, and comments; player achievements and game stats are presented on a live leaderboard. After all, what’s a social game without being able to talk a little trash?

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games is available for .NET and HTML5; future updates will include support of additional languages.

eMarketer predicts the social gaming market will increase to $1.32 billion in revenues by 2012, up from $856 million in 2010. As the social gaming market continues to grow and become more profitable, many companies are looking for stable and scalable solutions for running their games. With Windows Azure, Microsoft makes it easier capitalize on the revenue possibilities with a scalable cloud platform that accelerates time to market and reduces backend cost and overhead.

The Windows Azure platform provides game developers with on-demand compute, storage, content delivery and networking capabilities so that they can focus on development as opposed to operational hurdles. The toolkit also provides unique capabilities for social gaming prerequisites, such as storing user profiles, maintaining leader boards, in-app purchasing and so on.

Although Microsoft is announcing the social gaming toolkit today, social gaming developers have already found success on Windows Azure. Here’s what they’re saying:

  • "Windows Azure scales from one to twenty-two instances effortlessly to support our peak scalability needs. In the future, our platform will scale to serve thousands, or even millions, of gamers. Not only has Windows Azure streamlined our development and deployment process, it has also reduced our infrastructure management burden because we are not hosting and managing a VM somewhere. We are taking advantage of true Platform-as-a-Service" - David Godwin, CEO, Sneaky GamesSneaky Games is the developer of Fantasy Kingdoms, a fantasy building game for Facebook that launched in April 2010.
  • “Our Bola Social Soccer game, hosted on the Windows Azure platform, has experienced tremendous success since inception in January 2010 with over 5 million users per month, with peaks of up to 1.2 M unique users per day. The solution was integrated with Facebook, Sonico and Orkut and localized to 7 different languages. Using the Windows Azure platform, we were able to rapidly deploy Bola Social Soccer game and to handle the rapid growth due to the soccer world cup, and the best of all is that we just paid for what we used. Also, while using the Azure toolset we had a high level of productivity." - Pato Jutard, Engineering Manager, Three Melons. Three Melons is the Agentinian developer of Bola Social Soccer, which is integrated with Facebook, Sonico, and Orkut.
  • Using Windows Azure, TicTacTi has served 500 million in-game advertisements to games on behalf of our customers, helping everyone in the ecosystem monetize games with engaging and context appropriate product placement, rich media, branded campaigns, pre/post/mid roll, and contextual lead generation.” – Nir Hagshury, Chief Technical Officer, TicTacTi. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel and with offices in Europe and the United States, Tictacti offers technology for monetizing games and videos by providing interactive in-game and in-video advertising.

Whether you want to build social games as a hobby or you want to reach millions of gamers, the Windows Azure platform can help - click here to learn more.  If you haven’t signed up for the Windows Azure platform be sure to take advantage of our free trial offer. Click here to get started today.