It’s been a big week in the news for Twitch — first, Twitch releases a new tool to fix Twitch Chat. Also this week Twitch goes back to its vlogging roots with a new channel called “IRL.” And, while it’s not streamable yet, but Super Mario Run is finally live on iOS!
We’re proud to say that we’ve been INCREDIBLY busy with the launch of Pokémon GO, an understatement considering the social phenomenon it has become in just a week since launch! The news cycle was dominated by the game, as we’ve outlined below, and all of us at TriplePoint have also been busy exploring the world in search of our favorite Pokémon. Head to our website at www.triplepointpr.com for a little Easter Egg, and input the Konami code for a pleasant surprise. Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 11 – Featuring Pokémon GO!!!
Ask any game developer on iOS and Android today about the challenges they face in succeeding (i.e. turning a profit, making a sustainable living), and chances are there will be expressions of frustration and negativity. Save for companies that have already established themselves in the mobile marketplace and can afford to build and sustain a customer base, an overwhelming majority will never see a penny of profit.
At the same time, the mobile game market is at a crossroads. On one hand, you have casual experiences being churned out that can be monetized through growth hacking, a.k.a. the ability to target, but and convert players into paying customers. On the other hand, unique game experiences with deep and engaging levels of gameplay that can appeal to true “gamers” are finding it incredibly challenging to succeed, experiences that might command an upfront payment for a quality experience, one that such gamers are willing to pay.
Yet, the touchscreen experience doesn’t match the deep level of gameplay that sufficiently satisfies the needs of the average gamer. A few hours of playing a serious shooter, and you’re left with finger burn and a crooked wrist. This is why I adamantly support Nintendo’s strategy to continue building out their own platform with dedicated portable consoles, but that’s best left said in another blog post that I previously wrote.
While these challenges will persist in the near future, there is a bright spot in the mobile industry, steadily growing to help push development of high quality, deep gaming experiences that consumers might be willing to pay for – Bluetooth game controllers. Yes, multiple companies exist that provide such solutions, such as Green Throttle, Nyko, MOGA and others, but the tipping point will come with native integration of controller support by Apple and Google.
We already know about Apple’s controller API released with iOS 7, one that any developer can integrate into their game to support any wireless Bluetooth game controller. Google can’t be far behind, and we can be confident that we’ll see the support in the next year, at the most.
Free-to-play games rule the roost, and likely will for some time to come, if not permanently. This has allowed companies with the most capital to execute “growth hacking” techniques weighed heavily on user acquisition to build and sustain a player base. This has unfortunately led to an incredibly difficult marketplace for less capable developers to navigate and get discovered, especially the indie tier where the best ideas are generated and the least analytical capabilities lie. And we certainly can’t count on a quality game to succeed based on a one-time payment model. Free-to-play becomes even more challenging for the serious gamers, an incredibly difficult balance to manage in avoidance of pay-to-win perceptions.
As for “quality” games following the paid download model, $1.99 is unfortunately the maximum a majority of smartphone gamers will pay, with $9.99 and $19.99 being special price points for console ports – generally not optimal experiences built from the ground up for the touchscreen.
With universal game controller support built into iOS and Android, we can count on gamers playing for longer periods of time. With such higher engagements, developers can build deeper experiences with flexible game mechanics and backstories that have gamers investing tens of hours of time. Such game experiences are why 35 million gamers around the globe own a 3DS, and games that sell for $40 each sell in the millions within several days of release. These are the games, like Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty, that smash entertainment sales records, surpassing movies and music. Many of these games just wouldn’t work on a free-to-play model.
We’ve witnessed a variety of companies enter the market to disrupt the console business, most of which have been categorized as “microconsoles”, dedicated set-top box hardware usually build on top of Linux/Android. Yet, I can’t help but think that the last thing developers need to worry about right now is another platform, particularly one with little install base to justify the additional resource investment.
Why the need for a microconsole, when we all already own one, sitting right in our pocket? The smartphone and tablet, both iOS and Android, will quickly displace the need for dedicated microconsoles that offer the same value. Connectivity to the TV an issue? Tap and stream, enabled by Apple TV and, soon, the likes of Chromecast, will eliminate this hurdle for mainstream consumers. Don’t worry about the gamers – they’re savvy enough to make it happen now, as long as they have a reason to.
To summarize why I’m optimistic about the smartphone and tablet gaming space for the future of gaming:
1.) Native integration of controllers accelerating developer adoption into games.
2.) Games built from the ground up with controller support can lean on deeper experiences that please core gamers.
3.) High quality game experiences that can be played for hours (and avoid finger burn) can command premium price points and not rely on free-to-play access and conversion.
4.) Smartphone and tablets significantly increasing in power and capabilities can offer an experience that pleases the core gamer.
5.) One-tap streaming from smartphones/tablets to TV will all but eliminate the need for dedicated consoles tethered to the TV.
6.) More freedom and flexibility for gamers – one game file and experience no matter where you are, whether played on the road or on your living room TV.
I truly believe that there’s still a bright future ahead for experiences that gamers can enjoy and would be willing to pay a premium price point for on mobile devices. The hurdles that face development and adoption of such titles is a technology challenge already being solved in the form of native controller support and mobile-to-TV streaming. This is an exciting opportunity for developers to harness and create rich game experiences that meets the behaviors and consumption habits of gamers both casual and core. For all the gamers out there, we get to enjoy great games using the hardware that we own coupled with an affordable controller, anytime, anywhere.
I had the privilege of moderating a panel at this year’s Mobile Gaming USA West, held in San Francisco on May 14-15. The event drew some of the top minds in mobile game development, publishing and services, all sharing their thoughts on the current state of the industry, and offering advice on the immediate challenges we all face.
I usually hone in on topics of marketing and public relations, but this panel was different, titled “Fishing in a Smaller Pond: Evaluating the mobile gaming market outside iOS and Android devices”.
While every discussion and panel preceding mine focused on iOS and Android (obviously, given its majority rule over the other mobile operating systems), my panel consisted of experts finding success on other mobile platforms.
The goal was to plant seeds of interest in an audience with little knowledge of and motivation for serving these alternate audiences, discussing the immediate opportunities, monetization, challenges and best practices.
The panel consisted of:
- Abhinav Gupta, CEO, Game Scorpion
- Charles Huang, CEO, Green Throttle Games
- Chris Mahoney, Director of Emerging Platforms, PlayStation
- Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO, Arkadium
Kicking off, we took a quick audience poll. Of the approximately 100 people in the room:
- 90% working on iOS
- 80% working on Android
- 5% working on Windows Mobile*
- 5% working on BlackBerry*
*It’s worth noting a clear overlap of those working on Windows Mobile and BlackBerry.
Next up was an opportunity to frame the discussion with a few interesting data points, food for thought as we discussed the various platforms:
- There are 6B active cellphones worldwide.
- Smartphones recently overtook feature phone shipments for the first time ever this year. That’s 418M units shipped in Q1 2013, 216M of which are smartphones, and that shift is accelerating.
- Of smartphones, iOS and Android combined make up 91% (4Q 2012) of total market share worldwide.
- Windows rose to 2.6%, BlackBerry fell to 3.2%.
- What’s interesting is that the BlackBerry Q10 was the fastest-selling consumer electronics product ever in the UK (source: Guardian); is this a sign that hard keyboards will live on, and a potential niche for BlackBerry to successfully service?
Digging into the discussion, there were a few key takeaways:
Don’t take anything outside of iOS or Android for granted – money talks
While we’re all focused on chasing the popular thing that’s getting all the press/peer attention, we should take a step back and look to where opportunities might be ripest. Microsoft and RIM are spending millions to attract great content to a marketplace with a healthy install base and lacking attention from massive content players with big marketing budgets (your competitors). Additionally, console manufacturers such as Sony have shifted with the market to reduce barriers to entry, allowing mobile game developers to easily expand to audiences that are already conditioned to liberally spend dollars on a good game. And those of us living in a tech bubble with our shiny new gadgets, constantly looking 10 years into the future, could perhaps look around the world and see that a billion new feature phones will ship this year, generating millions for companies who are actively participating (e.g. Gameloft, vserv.mobi, etc.).
Windows: the agnostic OS
Rosenblatt’s emphasized the emerging importance of Windows, one that will rise to significance over the next several years. Central to this is Microsoft’s efforts for a harmonious OS centralized with Windows 8, not only providing consumers with a familiar experience across all devices, but a platform that developers can easily harness and through which their software/apps can deployed. It’s the only OS on the market with such capabilities and, thus, shouldn’t be ignored, particularly at a time when Microsoft’s deep pockets and massive audience size can provide significant support for great content.
These channels offer prime shelf space
Granted, you’ll need to start with a good game, but the relatively little activity on these alternative platforms means more opportunities for developing a relationship with the channel owners and receiving positive treatment in the form of feature placements. While every developer in the world is knocking on Apple and Google’s door for a feature spot on their respective marketplaces, bringing your great game to these other channels may resonate for preferential treatment.
Develop your content for the audience specific to the platform and/or channel
Sounds obvious, but when was the last time you considered developing for the Nook, or enhancing engagement by allowing mobile games to be played both on the road and on the big-screen TV? When you’re in the early stages of developing a game concept, you should be thinking about the audience it serves and where those audiences consume.
Gupta’s company has seen great success for children’s apps on the Nook and Kindle Fire, which both have audiences mostly comprised of 24+ professionals with children, who are also privy to spending money on an app that might serve an educational purpose for their kids (and of course, keep the kids busy in times of need).
Huang’s company is focusing on the convergence of mobile and TV, following the mantra of harnessing the console that you already own – an Android device in your pocket. Developers can increase engagement and monetization for an existing game by allowing playability in a social environment on the big screen in the living room.
Both Huang and Gupta agree that niche audiences are emerging within the Android ecosystem, which may be viewed simply as the continued fragmentation of the OS, but can be leveraged in a smart way to channel specific efforts into highly targeted audiences.
Also, clearly, Mahoney’s company harnesses the power of the PlayStation brand, creating an entire ecosystem of gaming products that will not only serve core gamers with deep, high-quality game experiences, but also accommodate the great content that the indies and mobile studios are generating in reaching the expanded mainstream audience.
In closing, we all agreed that there are big opportunities out there beyond just iOS and Android, most notably on PlayStation’s expanding line of hardware and distribution, Windows 8’s agnostic platform, BlackBerry’s fight to attract content to its existing base of core customers, and niche channels emerging within Android. I would’ve loved to look at the feature phone business, which globally ships 1m devices annually and has come a long way in terms of device capabilities for games (even with its own app stores!), but we’ll save that for another time. For now, focusing on starting/growing a sustainable business that can continue to feed the development of great games should be everyone’s priority, and these alternative options to iOS and Android just might be the perfect launchpad to future success.
Location-based games have had a number of notable titles over the years, as designers and developers have tried to gamify locations, or localize games, or whichever approach they feel like taking. While there are some notable exceptions, of course, the majority of these titles tend to follow this pattern: Continue reading Location-based Games and User Retention
The secret to a successful app is a combination of factors, some of which you can control, others you can’t. In order to do well in the oversaturated app marketplace it’s essential to put yourself in the best possible position for success. App success starts with a great idea, it hinges on execution during development, and it is largely influenced by PR, marketing, timing, and luck.
Of those factors, PR is one that you can control. PR for apps is about how you present the product to the public, garner media coverage, and build users and awareness through proactive outreach. Here are 5 tips to help your PR effort.
Nintendo has been facing an incredible amount of pressure from existing and new entrants to the gaming space that has led to a decline of its market share. With only so much time in one day to consume media, consumers have a choice between “core” gaming, by way of consoles and PCs, and a more casual experience via browser and on mobile devices; Nintendo has found itself at the service of neither audience.
With the impending launch of Wii U, the company has taken a public stance in support of the core gamer, but is faced with overcoming the challenge of offering a superior online experience to the established leader in the space, Microsoft and its Xbox 360. Its track record with Wii Shop leaves many of us doubtful that it can rebound in this sense. Meanwhile, the mainstream audience that helped propel Nintendo to success in the last decade with the Wii is being abandoned in favor of more costly hardware and complicated controls of the Wii U.
Clearly, Nintendo’s platform is at risk of failure, and investors and Mario fans alike are clamoring for a shift in strategy. Most notable among the call for action lies with the leader and renowned innovator in software and hardware – Apple. Prior to iOS, we had terrible interfaces that were counterintuitive to driving engagement of content and considered a 5% market penetration of games as a success. Since the debut of iOS and the App Store, we’ve seen the market expand to over 600,000 applications and indie developers rising to fame, claiming thousands in revenue, and in some cases millions. Google Play trails closely behind with over 500,000 applications available, although the platform faces piracy issues that leave it second to iOS in terms of developer support.
The new market opportunity is in mobile gaming, as Apple and Google continue to seed global audiences with smartphone devices that spur user engagement with various forms of content, most notably games. Should Nintendo bow to market pressures and take Mario, Zelda and Metroid to mobile devices? Certainly not now, without sacrificing its entire platform and affecting its remaining grip on the game enthusiast market. Let’s analyze the implications of what can be seen as a rash decision in several ways.
Shifts in Revenue
Nintendo’s revenues have taken a hard hit as a result of our shift to mobile platforms. Wii owners are largely content with Wii Sports, and those mainstream consumers have hardly converted into purchasers of additional software, resulting in decreased developer support. The 3DS launched to a cold welcome, but has since slashed prices and achieved moderate success among a stagnant core gaming audience.
The company recorded its first operating loss of $460 million for fiscal year ending March 31st, much of which can be attributed to the struggling Wii console, DS and 3DS, all falling short of sales expectations and incorporating price cuts in response to increased competitive pressures. We can also assume that much of the capital was allocated to continued support for game developers on each platform and R&D towards Wii U.
Meanwhile, Rovio released its 2011 earnings statement, highlighting $67.6 million in profit on $106.3 million in revenues that can be largely attributed to its Angry Birds property, 30% of which came from merchandising and licensing. Based on these numbers, we can estimate that around $70 million was generated by downloads of Angry Birds. Impressive numbers indeed and deserving of praise for the company’s immense success across the various platforms on which Angry Birds can be found.
Yet, Angry Birds is at the top of the food chain, and few (if any) can come close to matching the success that Angry Birds has seen. And in comparison to Nintendo’s current business, it fails to match the numbers of its own game platform business.
For fiscal year beginning April 1, 2012, Nintendo is expected to achieve $500 million in operating profit according to a forecast estimate compiled through a survey of 20 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company controls its own fully integrated platform specifically tailored to gaming, similar to Apple’s hardware/software strategy that spans personal computers and mobile devices, not to mention the impending launch of the rumored iTV. Nintendo sells the hardware and controls the pipeline of software making its way to consumers, consisting of its own popular IP and an ecosystem of developers from which it generates additional revenues with every game purchase.
Let’s take a look at another example, one that would be on the lower end of Nintendo’s sales figures on a platform that is largely characterized as “struggling” – Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS. The title has so far achieved global sales of nearly 5.5 million units, running at $39.99 a pop. That’s nearly $220 million in revenues, over double Rovio’s business. Now, the margin on packaged goods isn’t really as significant, but even if we’re looking at a 20% profit margin, we’re talking about approximately $44 million in profit from a single title that has been on the market for only 6 months and on hardware that isn’t even considered a mainstream success. Looking forward, it’s not a stretch for Nintendo’s hardware to go strictly digital as industry trends indicate and eliminating the packaged goods channel, increasing margins and generating even greater profits (considering a premium price point maintained through “deeper” gaming experiences of Nintendo hardware). Also, this is just for one title – consider all the other games moving through the 3DS, controlled 100% by Nintendo and generating even greater revenues from both 1st and 3rd party games.
For Nintendo to trash its own closed gaming platform for Apple’s in pursuit of revenues that have not publicly achieved the scale that Nintendo currently maintains just doesn’t add up. It’s also understandable that Nintendo derides the thought of having to pay Apple the 30% cut, which would make it an even greater challenge to achieve success on the scale of its current games business. A counter argument to this is that Nintendo can offer games on each platform, which doesn’t come without merit, but let’s take a look at this audience.
Can Mario Wear Different Hats?
For Nintendo to reach the scale of success on Apple’s platform that it currently achieves within the confines of its own closed platform, let’s assume two scenarios: 1) that the game experience is rich enough to sell on the level of Angry Birds (that’s 1 billion downloads!), or 2) that Nintendo sells at a premium with less market penetration. Both situations would have to involve the creation of new games based on its popular IP, rather than a direct port of old games which would only have a minimal impact on Nintendo’s bottom line, not to mention potential disappointment in the controls for some of our most favorite classics that were built for console controls.
The first scenario would be largely targeted at the expanded mainstream audience, one that Nintendo did a great job of penetrating with the Wii and DS. Yet, we have to ask ourselves if the casual gamer of an older demographic and one that skews female would be willing to purchase a Nintendo device if Mario could be had on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Facing limited time in one’s day, chances are that this gamer would skip the purchase of a game-dedicated device and invest $0.99 on a more casual Mario experience. Asking my wife and her 21 year old sister if they’d purchase a new Mario for Wii if they had Super Mario World on their mobile device, they both confidently answered “no way, the app would be good enough”. This would affect the purchasing decision of millions of consumers and cannibalize Nintendo’s gaming platform at a much more significant loss than what it can possibly recover in $0.99 downloads. This isn’t a risk that Nintendo can afford to make, at least not right now.
The second scenario involves a very challenging balancing act of pricing games at a premium, say $9.99, and selling through enough downloads to generate a return on development costs. This would carry an even greater risk of cannibalizing Nintendo’s own platform as these premium games would also come with a deeper and richer gaming experience that could potentially directly compete with Wii U, DS and 3DS game quality. If I have a great Mario title on my mobile devices at $9.99, chances are that I’ll skip the dedicated hardware and $50 price tag for the game.
Additionally, either decision would send a very negative signal to the remaining developers who still believe in Nintendo’s gaming platform, causing additional speculation about those consoles’ impending demise, an even further loss of support in game development, and all but hammering the final nail in the coffin of Nintendo’s platform.
Finally, do we really want an innovator in the gaming space to drop what it does to hop on the iOS bandwagon and solely rely on a touchscreen interface? Is the future of gaming really only about the touchscreen, perhaps with gesture and voice recognition integrated within? Imagine where gaming would be now if Nintendo bowed down to economic pressures back when the GameCube was being labeled as a failure and the Wii and DS never happened. All those Wine, Cheese and Wii parties would have never happened, and one could fairly assume that the Kinect and Move gaming experiences may not have been inspired into market release, perhaps confined to TV integration and never having impacted the games we play.
“Tiiiime Is On My Side, Yes It Is”
Mick Jagger’s voice resonates in my head as I read that Nintendo is sitting on a pile of cash amounting to $14 billion. Not only is Nintendo expected to turn a profit for fiscal year 2012/13, but it has a war chest to conceive and define the “next generation of gaming” through a fully integrated hardware and software platform, one that’s made exclusively for gamers and consumers seeking a good time. Even though the new Wii U doesn’t spur much hope with industry analysts and other market players, such efforts would be completely lost if confined solely to the hardware and interface design choices of Apple, a company whose business is far greater than the games sector to justify a focus on giving us new ways to experience video games.
But how much time does Nintendo really have to make a decision? Even with $14 billion to cover years of operating costs, Nintendo can’t afford to sit around forever. A fair guess at the amount of time that Nintendo has to evaluate the marketplace and give a shot at maintaining a unique gaming experience lies perhaps in the 5-10 year range. Most everyone will understandably argue that this is too much time, but Mario, Zelda and Metroid aren’t going anywhere, and if Nintendo’s own platform faces a demise there will always be an audience ready to pounce on these titles when made available on iOS, Android or any other platform outside the company’s own walls.
Atari, who is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has hit a milestone of 10 million downloads just a year after releasing a number of classic and new games based on its renowned IP. Even decades after spending my hard earned weekly allowance in the arcades on Missile Command, Asteroids and Super Breakout, I can count myself among the millions that are downloading these games on iOS and Android (disclaimer: Atari is a TriplePoint client). You can bet that team Mario will have a lasting impact on consumers and maintain brand recognition that results in downloads 5-10 years down the road.
Losing Share to Angry Birds
Kids everywhere are wearing Angry Birds shirts and socks, while plushies continue to fill the rooms of children around the world. The ~$30 million merchandising/licensing business around this IP is a strong indicator that the property is capturing the mindshare of consumers, certainly at a loss for Mario. This perhaps is the greatest challenge facing Nintendo the longer it waits to nail down and execute a strategy for distribution on iOS and Android. Yet, the company has a history of bringing fans of its various 1st party IP a reason to buy back into the franchises, and the continued power of those brands will no doubt ensure that it continues to sell hardware and games, and that the expanded audiences take notice as well, even if these casual audiences may no longer be willing to purchase a Nintendo gaming device.
When all is said and done, nothing can sway Nintendo from sitting on its bankroll to continue attempts at innovating gaming fun as we know it, not as long as the market opportunities in mobile fall short of the rewards of maintaining its own closed gaming platform. A company that has over 120 years of history shouldn’t be swayed so easily by market pressures to ditch its game-focused platform for a new market that has been hot during the past 4 years (App Store launched in 2008). A survivor of the turbulent gaming market in the 90s and one that has stood up to Microsoft and Sony, we should be cheering on Nintendo to come up with a fresh gaming experience that takes us beyond a simple touchscreen interface dominated by a company that (understandably) deprioritizes gaming among all forms of digital media. Mario and team may one day land on our mobile devices, but considerations for its existing business should be taken into account, and we’ll always be ready to download Nintendo’s games years down the road.
The recent rise of mobile as a key platform in the gaming space is accompanied by meteoric growth in asynchronous gameplay. Not what you typically envision when hearing of the latest “multi-player videogame,” asynchronous games do not require the two or more participants to be playing simultaneously; rather, players make turns at their convenience. Chart toppers such as Words With Friends, Hero Academy and Draw Something have millions of people around the world playing asynchronous games daily.
The appeal of this detached gameplay mode on the mobile platform is obvious: by not having to participate “in-sync,” players are free to go about their day, logging in to make a move only when it’s convenient. Growing up, getting a quick game of StarCraft going with my friends required planning in advance to ensure everybody was free (or hoping they were signed into Ventrilo). Now the rich, social experience of multiplayer gaming is available anywhere, anytime, and with any of your hundreds of Facebook friends.
Without a doubt, asynchronous gameplay is bringing millions of new gamers online. Everybody from busy professionals to even busier moms can find time throughout the day to glance at their phones and lay down a quick 20-point word or crudely sketch a sunflower for their friends. These types of people that could never carve out a two-hour block of time to delve into the latest RTS or explore the world of a new MMO are exactly the target audience for asynchronous games.
Recently, I became completely addicted to Zynga’s Words With Friends. My phone buzzed constantly with updates – after all, with 10 or 15 games happening simultaneously, there’s always somebody free to play. I am, and imagine I always will be, a huge Scrabble fan, and my initial enthusiasm motivated the first few weeks of play. However, after a few months of playing WWF, I found myself oddly numb to the experience. Sliding my finger across each subsequent “New Move” notification pop-up seemed more and more of a chore and less about enjoying the game. I was no longer playing because I was immersed in the game, but rather because felt beholden to making the next move so my friends would not be left hanging.
A few months back, I finally snapped out of my daze and started reflecting on the experience, ultimately concluding that I expected too much of asynchronous gameplay. Like most of my daily electronic information flow, the game simply became another source for that short, addicting burst of serotonin so many of us crave in the Digital Age, with little to gain that could not be found in a casual glance at Twitter.
I may think that I’m a busy person and at times certainly am, but I’m no mom rushing kids to soccer practice and dance recitals. In retrospect, I probably spent close to two hours a day keeping up with WWF – not exactly a “non-disruptive” amount of time. Keep in mind, this was not two hours I scheduled specifically for play, but like with most players, time taken in small increments throughout the day that quickly added up to the point of distraction. This most convenient form of gaming was not only sucking an hour or two out of each day, but also doing so when I should have been focusing on work or enjoying the company of friends.
A few months free of Zynga’s iron grip and I’m making a point to schedule time for the sort of immersive gaming that I used to know and love, inviting friends over for a game of Super Smash Bros. or investing the time to set up a game of Risk or Settlers of Catan. I still play the occasional game of Draw Something or Scramble With Friends, but my notifications have all been turned off, and the icons are gone from my home screen. Now, I play only when I’m truly not busy or have made a point to invest some time.
Asynchronous games are part of a wider push in the tech space to make everything as convenient, connected and on-demand as possible. “No time to sit down and play? Just have these bite-sized snippets instead!” That’s great for people on the go, but for those of us accustomed to the deep immersion that comes with truly investing yourself in a game, with setting up your StarCraft hotkeys and arguing over which dictionary to use for Scrabble, there is more than a bit of magic missing so far, in asynchronous gameplay.
While I may sound like the exception to the rule in the face of so much overwhelming success, evidence suggests many others experience the same burnout and disappointment after the initial rush to play. However, I’m confident that the next generation of asynchronous game developers will mitigate these issues with innovative new features that not only keep us hooked, but also tear us away when things start to get out of hand and our entertainment threatens to become a chore.
“Shadow Government was probably the most fascinating game I saw at GDC.” – Mike Schramm, TUAW
Excerpted from Shadow Government tries to combine real-world policy with casual gameplay on 3/14/2012 for TriplePoint client, Playmatics
Play the news for yourself when Shadow Government launches on the iOS App Store later this year.
Last week, while chatting around my kitchen table with a friend, she pulled out her phone and proceeded to play a round of Temple Run while we continued our conversation. Taking a cue from her, I whipped out my phone and began playing as well. And there we sat, talking as we individually played our games; eyes on our phones, concentration focused on not running into a tree or getting attacked by demon monkeys. As a non-gamer (I am reluctant to identify myself even as a casual gamer), this was an extremely unusual situation for me to be in. I have never connected with friends over Xbox LIVE or hung in on a Friday night playing Mario, but I am increasingly finding myself in situations where I am bonding and interacting with my friends over an iOS game.
I have never, ever, been a “gamer.” I may have dabbled with some Sims or Guitar Hero, but prior to installing Temple Run I had gone years without repeatedly playing any videogames. While a love of videogames was something I could conceptualize, comparing it to my love of books, it was never something that I personally experienced. I blame that on my horrible hand-eye coordination.
There are roughly 100,000 games currently available in the App Store. The mobile gaming market has grown exponentially in recent years, garnering attention from people who have never owned a console or handheld gaming device, but who own a smartphone. The smartphone has quickly captured a previously untapped market of gamers, getting Dad — who hasn’t played a video game since Centipede at the arcade — to spend spare moments slinging birds at pigs. Recently, the success of mobile gaming has even sparked discussion on the end of handheld devices.
As an iPhone owner for years, I still was never attracted to the games that entertained my friends, using my phone primarily for email and, well, phone calls. There was a gaming revolution occurring around me, but I was primarily immune to the draw of the game. What about Temple Run changed it all for me? As a self-proclaimed non-gamer, I base my addiction on its quick and consistent gameplay. I can pick it up on my two-minute subway ride or do back-to-back runs for an hour and it’s the same enjoyable game. Graphics are irrelevant to me. As someone who has never consistently experienced the almost life-like animation of certain console games, the visual gaming components are not high on my list of importance. Instead, it is the extremely simple, repetitive, yet exciting gameplay that keeps me starting up the only game I have on my iPhone. And small allusions to my childhood fictional idol — Indiana Jones — didn’t hurt at all.
Temple Run breaks taken while writing this blog post: 5
*Imangi, the studio behind Temple Run is a TriplePoint client.
Have some fun with this week’s Trends with Benefits, the weekly brainteaser from your friends at TriplePoint! TWB appears every week in our news round-up, Points of Interest, and offers terrific prizes to readers who can puzzle their way through the challenge du jour. First crack at the prizes go to Points of Interest subscribers when the newsletter goes out on Fridays, but we’ll be sharing each week’s challenge here on our website, as well.
Up for grabs this week is Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing for iOS, a critic favorite from TriplePoint client, SEGA! Celebrate your independent spirit with a free copy, up ahead!
Try and solve this week’s Trends with Benefits, the weekly brainteaser from your friends at TriplePoint! TWB appears every week in our news round-up, Points of Interest, and offers terrific prizes to readers who can puzzle their way through the challenge du jour. First crack at the prizes go to Points of Interest subscribers when the newsletter goes out on Fridays, but we’ll be sharing each week’s challenge here on our website, as well.
This week’s challenge is for Cell Bound, the new iOS action-puzzler from TriplePoint client, Hothead Games! Read on and see if you can work this one out!
Introducing Trends with Benefits, a weekly brainteaser from your friends at TriplePoint! TWB appears every week in our news round-up, Points of Interest, and offers terrific prizes to readers who can puzzle their way through the challenge du jour. First crack at the prizes go to Points of Interest subscribers when the newsletter goes out on Fridays, but we’ll be sharing each week’s challenge here on our website, as well — starting with this week’s undead-themed quiz, offering a copy of Hothead Games’ new iOS hit Bunny the Zombie Slayer as a prize! Read on and see who else you know in the corpse-killing business… Continue reading Trends with Benefits: Zombies! Zombies Everywhere!
Many of us are fortunate that we can pick up a menu, medicine bottle or business card and read it directly as is. Unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky. Ai Squared, a TriplePoint client, has developed products for the low-vision community for over twenty years. This week, they expanded their services with the launch of their iPhone application ZoomReader.
Designed specifically for anyone in need of visual assistance, ZoomReader takes a picture of any text, converts the text digitally using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and reads the text aloud through an integrated voice synthesizer. Standalone OCR devices are very expensive and not usually portable. The ZoomReader app provides a much less expensive on-the-go alternative to these devices, and helps make reading and seeing easier for people with low vision.
Since launch on Tuesday, ZoomReader reached the #2 Grossing App in the Lifestyle Section of the App Store and in the Top 200 Grossing Apps in the entire App Store.