Archive for March, 2011

Social Gaming, The Emergence of a Frontier

March 21, 2011

Even without a full picture, the information NGMoco released about We Rule on the game’s one year anniversary in the app store reveals a lot about social gaming and engagement via some very powerful mobile platforms.

Social Game at 1 Year

NGMoco’s We Rule has more than 13 million downloads in a year-a number anyone in the app space would covet.  But the more impressive (to me and hopefully you) number is the 3 billion minutes players have spent on We Rule in a year.  The 15 million mojo’s transacted each day is impressive too-although what is not clear how many of those are hard-dollar purchases versus free acquisition via the game.

What is clear though is that the hybrid “freemium” model NGMoco introduced is a viable business model, with significant hooks into many digital facets to bear close study no matter what your core business is.

For the uninitiated, We Rule is a free game to download for iOS devices.  The game is mostly simple, through touch and swipe gamers are able to grow and expand their kingdom from a single plot of farmland growing corn to multiple (now up to eight) realms with purchases of businesses and amenities to create an empire.

My We Rule has a dark realm where I keep dragons and land scarring structures; a water front with a ship yard, fish monger, naval ship.  (this is also where I keep the three little pigs and a butcher shop).  I have an opulent castle (recently upgraded) and I am eyeing one of the four new realms that opened with the last download of the game.

Some of the unique qualities of the game though-the ones to seriously look at and contemplate for products are:

  1. SSO-the games are tied to a gaming hub, which recognizes me when I log in and remembers me across games.  It also remembers friends from my networks (including Gmail, Twitter, Facebook).
  2. Real time app updating through downloading.  These are graphical components served into your game via a server side download-which means no new submission to the app store.  When there is a structural change to the game board, there is a standard Apple update.
  3. Hooks to keep finding and refining my in game friend list through my social networks.
  4. In-app purchase of mojo (the game currency), and other game components.

While the game is fairly engaging and easy to play and understand, there are some components that can be improved-and I would think knowing the way NGMoco has rolled out other games (I also play Adventure Bay and Castle Craft (esd714 is my gamer name in all three games) there is a constant review.

  1. It would be nice to integrate some level of real time twitter feed into the game (maybe via hashtag?) so I can brag about purchases and accomplishments in real time.
  2. There is no way to remove a friend’s game once it is connected to mine.  I have some friends who played some, but stopped, and their kingdoms and islands are part of my game experience.
  3. As the games become more complex, there is an increased crash rate, especially when WiFi capability changes in mid-game.

Of Announcements, Shows and Rumors

March 14, 2011


Lots of news and rumors though

Have to make sure I am there next year, I actually miss being there

Anyone who knows me, knows I am very much not a fan of conferences.  It’s just not my thing.  However, South By Southwest (SXSW) is a different kind of event, and every year (like this one) that I don’t go, I regret it.


For background only, I am someone who attended SXSW more than 20 years ago when it was a college music show in Austin-this is before the tech crowd kind of took it over and in the vernacular of my industry made it about convergence.  I can remember struggling to find money to go in college (the college radio station paid a couple of hundred dollars).  When I worked in TV in Dallas it was great to be assigned to the show.  It was so out of the mainstream, it was an easy assignment to snag.

Now, it’s a tough ticket.  One friend was actively looking for hotel reservations that were about to be canceled–knowing the roots of SXSW, that’s kind of crazy.

Over the years of evolution SXSW has become a place for tech on the periphery of the music and film industry to make announcements-this for the most part means apps (especially mobile) and new ways to layer social into existing products.  The list this year has  been impressive:

  1. New FourSquare
  2. New Gowalla
  3. New TED API
  4. Indie film enablement at Dynamo
  5. @Anywhere integrating with Twitter

And those are just five off the top of my head…

Then there was the one that didn’t happen:

The rumor over the weekend was Google would introduce us to its next social attempt, Google Circles.  Following that over the weekend (while not in Austin) was a bit dizzying–but it looks like that won’t happen, for now at least.

The upshot though is a place where new bands and indie producers gathered to be found has been found…

It’s no wonder the person who best lives convergence has been such a hit

So, hopefully next year this update is from Austin, and I won’t spend three days saying, “Man I should be at SXSW.”  Either way, it should be a lot of fun (as it always is).

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