Deko-Deko Mail is an animated messaging system that allows the user to choose from nearly 2000 animations to accompany a wall post. The combination app/game from HumaNature Studios launched mid-February, 2011. According to our traffic and growth tracking system, AppData, it has picked up 50,000 MAU as of launch.
The idea behind the game comes from a Japanese concept of animated images called emoji. It’s not uncommon to see Japanese teenagers sitting in a group texting one another so it is no surprise that emoji – the animated images, far more elaborate than emoticons – in text messages originated from the island. It is based upon this idea, that Deko-Deko Mail was developed.
Created by the designer of Toejam & Earl and Orly’s World, Deko-Deko Mail allows users to send messages or embed them in blogs or e-mail. Keywords within a message are tagged to indicate associated images (as in the message above). Categories of images also exist, as does a free search. Some images are free while the majority cost five Keys — the in-app currency — which is where the game element comes in.
Keys are easily earned as purchased. Initially, the standard “liking” the app and providing e-mail earns Keys at every level; ten experience for each post and 50 experience for each new friend. Additional Keys are earned each day simply for logging in; successive days earn more Keys. Friends can also request and send Keys at a rate of one Key per friend per day. A gift option of 30 FB credits worth of Keys (300 Keys) is available.
Using a premium animation costs five Keys but does not unlock the animation permanently; it’s a usage fee paid each time a user adds it to a message. The exception to this rule is avatars and pets. Users can choose an avatar and pet to represent themselves in their friend bar. Each level unlocks more options, but early unlocks are available by paying five Keys.
Greg Johnson, Captain and Designer-guy (it’s on his business card) at HumaNature Studio conceived of the idea after his wife visited her home in Japan, where she purchased the latest cell-phone to keep up with her friends and their emoji craze. Before she’d purchased the phone, some of her friends accused her of being angry with them for not sending the appropriate emoji with her messages. At that time, Johnson had assets in his possession from a canceled Nintendo DS game. After hearing his wife’s story, he adapted his game concept to a messaging system and named it Deko-Deko Mail based on the Japanese term deko-mail (decorated mail).
Demographically, Deko-Deko Mail appeals to a younger female audience. But Johnson has been experimenting with advertising sales for this this very viral app and is seeing some appeal to both younger males and older females. For example, the animations lend themselves to cute and amusing messages aimed at younger children — perhaps an animated “hug” by a parent or grandparent. However, the app tags words and acronyms like “suicide” or “FML,” so an older audience can express a more mature message (see above). Johnson’s goal doesn’t seem to be targeting one audience over another, but rather building an animation set that reflects the way people talk in general.