Hungry for More Challenge and Chance in Social Games

This weekend over at Frisky Mongoose, I rambled off a lengthy list of reasons why people play social games, and I think its fair to say that Facebook game developers are doing a lot of things right.

Now can they change their click-only interfaces to feed players who are hungry for more?

People will click as many times as they need to make what they want out of a social game. But after all the shopping and buying of virtual items, sending gifts and helping neighbors, harvesting crops, feeding animals, cleaning and decorating… Continue reading Hungry for More Challenge and Chance in Social Games

Frisky Mongoose: Why Do We Play Social Games?

I think it’s a bit harsh to say that social gamers are “weird”, as Newsweek recently put it… But you have to dig a little deeper than face(book) value to understand the attraction of playing casual games with actual friends on the (social) web.

In the end, it all boils down to the fact that people like playing games with their friends, and the Facebook platform allows new audiences to enjoy a “gaming community” atmosphere in a familiar setting (Facebook) with people they know, and games they can learn to play easily and that don’t require a large time investment to enjoy (social gamers are busy)!

It’s more fun to beat your friends than strangers, and social games can even lead to better connections with Facebook friends you don’t know very well, or otherwise wouldn’t have a chance/reason to interact with on a regular basis.

Continue reading Frisky Mongoose: Why Do We Play Social Games?

Facebook Nixes App Notifications, Social Games Get Email Alert Incentives

Now that Facebook apps can no longer send notifications to users, social game developers are implementing new methods of keeping in touch with their players. Here’s an overview of recent game updates from a few top social titles, as reported on

First, in case you’ve been under a rock, the background: Facebook notifications will cease to exist in their previous form, starting this week. According to Mashable, developers of games and other Facebook apps will now be required to either send email updates to users (assuming they’ve agreed to receive them), or hope that users will read about their updates via fan pages and new feeds.

An additional counter feature will also be relied on, which displays the number of app related notices you have next to the application’s name in your left menu navigation on the Facebook homepage (for those applications you have bookmarked). However this is as close to universal notifications as the updated system comes, making those who were tired of logging in to see a big 20+ digit in the corner of their screens very happy campers indeed.

One of the most popular new features is an email alert system. Facebook games are rewarding players who register with all kinds of exclusive in-game items, like new recipes, shells and armor. Continue reading Facebook Nixes App Notifications, Social Games Get Email Alert Incentives

Appanda Makes DIY iPhone Apps Easy, Companies Cash In

Got a small business, blog, group, class or cause? Appanda has an app for that… I recently had a chance to sit down with Chris Przybyszewski, CEO of RESOLUTE, the Memphis-based iPhone developers behind a variety of original and for-hire games and apps.

RESOLUTE’s latest release, Appanda is making it easier than ever for small businesses to create and launch their own mobile apps (iPhone and Android). Here’s the inside scoop on Appanda, do-it-yourself iPhone development and more – enjoy!

Give us an overview of RESOLUTE – who are you and what do you do?
RESOLUTE builds software platforms that help everyone create their own mobile device app, such as an iPhone app or an Android Marketplace phone.

Continue reading Appanda Makes DIY iPhone Apps Easy, Companies Cash In

LEGO Universe CES Crowd Control: Press Reactions

LEGO Universe made its public debut at CES – the Consumer Electronics Show – earlier this month  (January 7-10, 2010). Attendees, including press of course, were able to get their hands on the game for the very first time, and the first game trailer was released in conjunction with the show. Attendees were also the first pioneers able to sign up for the LEGO Universe beta test, slated to begin in the next few months.

LEGO Universe will bring LEGO worlds alive, in the first MMOG – massively multiplayer online game – based on the iconic brick-building play experience. Developed by NetDevil, LEGO Universe will launch for PC in the second half of 2010. So what did CES-attending media think? Here are some reactions to the game demo and trailer: Continue reading LEGO Universe CES Crowd Control: Press Reactions

Facebook Game Dashboard to Change Face of Social Gaming

Last month I wrote about an impending Facebook “revolution” – ranting about the proliferation of social game notifications and requests. I  talked about the need for change within Facebook’s growing games arena. I gave my recommendations. And…

All the while, Facebook was busy readying a solution of its own – ironically similar to the plan I proposed – the Facebook Games Dashboard.

VentureBeat says it will (re) organize your social gaming life. “Facebook is in the midst of redesigning how users find, interact with, and keep track of games on the social network. Called the ‘Game Dashboard,’ the new feature is Facebook’s attempt to play nice with social game developers, serve the interests of gamers, and at the same time stop games from ruining the experience for everybody else.”

As part of a major site overhaul, Facebook’s new gaming section looks to alleviate issues including spam-like messages (think “Kate just harvested a perfect bunch of Poinsettias”) and other social game communications that general users have begun working to ignore… These “push notifications” will no longer go into the general notifications channel/feed. Continue reading Facebook Game Dashboard to Change Face of Social Gaming

Say Social Gamers, You Want a Revolution? Talk to Facebook

facebook-icon“This is a disruptive, challenging time in our industry, but there are opportunities for better collaborative innovation if we challenge the status quo…” – Malcom Gladwell

The web is changing. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become our new information and communication hubs. In the beginning , one of the biggest appeals of social games was their integration with existing social networks – the ability to log in to one site to conduct all your social stuff, including multiplayer gaming.

But now that social games have evolved into all-but standalone communities within social networks, and now that players have become more avid and interactive, AND now that social game developers have “mastered” the art of getting users to spam their friends… well now its time for change.

The New Face of Facebook

Facebook is taking the aggregation approach to new levels, increasingly expanding to a “whole web product” – a complete social experience that seamlessly spans web, mobile and desktop to provide real-time, customizable social networking any way you want it. Continue reading Say Social Gamers, You Want a Revolution? Talk to Facebook

Game Consoles Go Social or Go Home


It’s official. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 have now both received the biggest friend request in social gaming history – from THE friend of friends, Facebook. The Facebook Blog shares a wealth of details it’s new 360 availability, and in a PS3 firmware v3.10 preview post on Tuesday, the PlayStation Blog officially stated what rumors predicted last week (me too!)

But Facebook isn’t the only social service seeking friends –  Twitter is also part of the game console social update bonanza, for both 360 and PS3. There are over 2 million concurrent users on Xbox Live, and now they can all tweet, poke, snoop and share to their hearts content. Please excuse me while I go purchase stock in console keyboards.

Facebook’s Blog talks social-console integration: “Games are more fun when played with friends, which is why they are among the most popular activities on Facebook. We’re excited that beginning today the social game experience is coming to Xbox Live, so now you can play Xbox games with your Facebook friends.

More and more services are integrating with Facebook to make it easy for you to connect with friends wherever you are — including websites like Digg, devices like the iPhone and desktop applications like iPhoto.

The Xbox Facebook integration allows you to take part in some of the most popular activities on Facebook directly from your living room on your television. With Facebook for Xbox, you can update your status, browse updates from your friends and view photos on the big screen. You also can link your Facebook profile to your Xbox Gamertag to find your Facebook friends and connect with them on Xbox Live. It’s never been easier to discover friends you never even knew played Xbox.”

LEGO Universe Demo Debut Reactions

Last week we conducted the very first preview press demos for LEGO Universe at the TriplePoint offices in San Francisco. Journalists were invited to check out the game, snag some new screenshots, talk with the development team, and get answers to all their LEGO MMO questions.


Ryan Seabury, the game’s Creative Director from NetDevil was on hand with an in-depth gameplay demo – the first peek for journalists into myriad challenges and worlds awaiting players when LEGO Universe releases next year.

Continue reading LEGO Universe Demo Debut Reactions

Examining Gunnar Optiks Gaming Glasses

Resident PC gaming guru at, Bryan Edge-Salois took a pair of Gunnar’s digital performance eyewear for a month-long test drive. The gaming glasses marathon began just after Bryan discovered Gunnar Optiks at PAX,  and concluded this weekend with a full product review. The self-proclaimed “glasses snob” was impressed on all accounts – the Gunnars reduced visual strain and improved eye stamina, and have all but replaced Bryan’s normal mlgglassonblackprescription glasses…

“The prescription lenses paired with Gunnars specialized optical design and other features have created an amazing pair of glasses that I scarcely ever want to take off.”

“Gunnars sharpen what you look at, and look sharp, too.”

“Wearing Gunnars is almost like having a ‘shield’ over your eyes… might not make you a ‘better’ gamer, but they can certainly improve long-term ‘eye stamina’ after that 40-man World of Warcraft raid or several hours of Left 4 Dead starts to take its toll.”

“After just a month or more with the Gunnars, I can scarcely imagine wearing anything else – whether I’m at my day job in front of a computer screen, writing this column, or playing the games I love to play.”

“And the Gunnars have been worth every penny.

You can read the full review on

Developers Gone Wild! iPhone Gold Rush Uncloaked: Q&A with Rock Ridge Games

The iTunes App Store is a booming marketplace, full of opportunity for independent developers. At an Apple press conference earlier this month, Steve Jobs said that over 30 million iPhones and 20 million iPod Touch devices have been sold to date. There are over 100 million customers on iTunes, and they’ve been busy – downloading over 1.8 billion apps since the App Store launched in July 2008. But with over 75,000 apps and counting (more than 21,000 in the game category alone), it’s a sink or swim space. The unique iPhone platform is luring talented designers from top names in the traditional video game development industry – ambitious artists, code-monkeys and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes looking to try their hand at a new medium, and take on whatever responsibility necessary – including new shoes they’ll learn to fill along the way.

There are already more than 100,000 third-parties in the iPhone Developer Program, and the App Store marketplace has created a community mindset among many of these smaller independent companies, who are willing to share some of their “secrets” and learn from their competitors to further their cause and to coexist symbiotically, if you will. One such indie developer is Rock Ridge Games. I had a chance to pick the brains of Rock Ridge’s president and VP, Mike Mann and P.J. Snavely, on what it takes to make the transition from licensed, big-budget console game development to the DIY world of iPhone app development – here’s what they had to say…

RRG Western Wind iPhone

Can you give us a little background on Rock Ridge Games and your experience in game development?
Rock Ridge Games was started in April of this year with the goal of developing interesting and fun original  games for the incredible new smartphones hitting the market. There are only two of us (Mike Mann and PJ Snavely) but we’ve got almost 30 years of combined experience in game development, having come from the console side of development. We’ve worked on everything from multi-million dollar licensed sports games to small independent titles for XBLA. The iPhone is our new frontier.

Continue reading Developers Gone Wild! iPhone Gold Rush Uncloaked: Q&A with Rock Ridge Games

Social Plays in Networked Gaming

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting at the monthly Social Media Expedition Memphis breakfast meetup. It was a great chance to take a look at “social gaming” from a different perspective, as many attendees knew little about the video games industry, but they were all social media enthusiasts.

The result? An exploration of the connection between video games, technology and social media, and what it all means for marketers. For brevity, I’ll just say that the relationship between gaming and social media is, by all means, symbiotic. For a more thorough explanation, check out the full presentation on SlideShare below.

In such an emerging space, one can never have all the right answers. Let me know what you think – insight, opinions, questions… All feedback is more than welcome!

Social Plays In Networked Gaming by Kate Hancock

View more presentations from triplepoint.

New Media Mavens Convene in Memphis to Talk Modern Branding


Some of digital media’s brightest and most passionate branding minds were at Emerge Memphis yesterday for an event from LaunchMemphis and Southern Growth Studios, “Masters of the New Modes: Insights and Innovations from the Blending Worlds of Tech, Marketing and Culture.” Adrian Ho and C.C. Chapman, two leaders in innovation, interactive marketing and user experience gave a private workshop in the afternoon and a public panel at TechFuel yesterday evening.

Up first was Adrian Ho, Founding Partner of Zeus Jones (greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area), who discussed “Modern” vs. “Classic” Branding. Ho said “everything a company does is marketing,” so it should be a more closely-integrated role within companies, with marketing teams working together with teams such as customer service and product development to provide a cohesive user experience. In fact, Ho mentioned that his agency recently created a “User Experience” position, which focuses on the way people (end-users) actually interact with the product or service. That’s opposed to, say a communications or marketing expert.

Continue reading New Media Mavens Convene in Memphis to Talk Modern Branding

The Social Web: Redefining the Online Landscape


More and more parts of our lives are becoming tangled in the Social Web – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Digg are buzzwords everywhere you turn, and everyone *could be* paying attention to your social doings these days… But are they? In any case the fact is, social media is creating a new organizational framework for the internet, the way we interact with others, and the way we manage and conduct our daily lives, online and off.

The social networking industry is worth billions and over 35% of US Web users 18+ actively use social networking sites, up from just 8% in 2005. That’s in addition to a whopping 65% of 12-17-year-old Americans who are currently on social networks, said the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey in January 2009. With SO many different networks, the virtual world (Wide Web) is quickly becoming as socially diversified and segmented as the real world. Cliques and niche groups now have the resources to form their own SNs and cut out a large chunk of the “noise”. There are sites for professional networks, social groups, charities, churches, schools, universities, doctors and pharmacists, parents, micro-bloggers, video-sharers – a site for them all…


But wouldn’t life be easier if all of those various personal and professional contacts could all just be on one social networking site, or in one place, one destination? Instead of keeping up with five or ten different sets of contact info, profiles, links, status updates, applications, comments, jokes and photos… I mean, we’re already struggling to keep up with five thousand different people here – give us a break!

Continue reading The Social Web: Redefining the Online Landscape