Mobile advertising and publishing platform Tapjoy today announced a partnership with South Korea’s largest social mobile platform Kakao, which will allow developers on the Kakao Games platform to monetize with Tapjoy’s advertising and monetization tools.
The Kakao Games platform allows users to play with KakaoTalk users, share game scores, and compete on leaderboards in real-time. Games on the platform now gross more than $40 million per month, the company revealed in a statment.
In March, Tapjoy revealed that approximately 100 million unique viewers who come through its network per month are international, which equates to about 75 percent of its overall unique viewers per month coming from outside the U.S.
The partnership provides Tapjoy the opportunity to deliver premium content within titles on the Kakao Games platform.
KakaoTalk currently has more than 90 million users around the globe, more than 30 million users visiting the platform every day and is South Korea’s practically ubiquitous mobile messaging app. SundayToz was the first developer to get its match-3 puzzler Anipang on KakaoTalk’s game platform. At GDC 2013, SundayToz founder and CEO Kevin Lee told us he spoke with the founder of Kakao, and proposed the idea to turn the messenger app into a game platform, which led to the launch of Anipang for Kakao. Today, Anipang is generating around $500,000 in revenue a day.
Recently, KakaoTalk also demonstrated growth outside of its native South Korea by surpassing the 10 million download mark in Japan on March 24.
Blitz Brigade is an iOS and Android game by Gameloft. It is available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and contains ads and numerous in-app purchases.
Blitz Brigade is a team-based first-person shooter that borrows elements and styles from other popular shooters and brings them to mobile platforms. At the start, the user is dropped into the main menu and can decide between playing the game and playing through the detailed tutorial. While experienced gamers will be quick to grasp how the game works, most will still need a while to adjust to the touch-screen controls. Most first-person shooters are released on PC or consoles, letting players use a controller or mouse. However, Blitz Brigade’s touch controls—along with the added option for tilt-based aiming—forces players to adapt to a system that hasn’t been perfected on mobile devices.
Entering the game’s multiplayer mode provides the player with numerous choices. There are two different game types: Domination and Deathmatch. Domination requires teams to keep control of territories, while Deathmatch is a traditional “kill to win” mode. Both modes are fun, and most players will have a preference. Upon starting a game, players will choose which team they wish to join and which class they want to use. At the start, there are only two classes available, but others can be unlocked from either playing the game or spending in-game currency. This pre-game screen also allows players to customize their equipment and weapons, creating a bit of individuality in the characters. Once in game, certain issues start to expose themselves. One of the most glaring problems with the online multiplayer is the apparent lag. There aren’t many mobile games with full 3D graphics that allow numerous players to compete at the same time. The lack of precedence is apparent in Blitz Brigade, and the gameplay suffers because of it. The troublesome controls combined with unreliable online play leaves much to be desired. Hopefully the network code can be improved with future updates, but for now, it hurts the experience. (more…)
Draw Rider is an iOS and Android app from 17Studio. It is available now as a free download, with a premium version available for $1.99. The premium version includes more features, more levels, and removes advertisements.
Draw Rider is a single player racing game where the player’s goal is to complete each stage within a strict time limit. While the game only runs from left to right, its use of rough terrain, balancing, and physics make the simple goal quite difficult to accomplish. Even with a high difficulty level, Draw Rider provides a concept that is simple enough for gamers of all levels to grasp.
Draw Rider places the player in the role of a stick figure riding a bicycle from the far left end of the level to the far right. The four on-screen buttons accelerate, brake, lean forward, and lean backward. There’s not much else to the gameplay, but those tools are more than enough to add a sense of challenge to the experience. That challenge is further increased by the rough terrain. While the first couple levels are mostly flat, the stages quickly become full of pits, dips, hills, and other obstacles and rough areas that will require the player to quickly master the controls and understand the physics engine if he or she wants to find success. To make it even harder, each level comes with three time limits, of which the longest much be beaten before the next level is unlocked. There are 37 stages in the free version of the game, which will provide more than enough challenge for the majority of players.
Transformers Legends is a new iOS and Android game from Mobage. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries additional in-app purchases.
Transformers Legends is a card-battle game, much like the previous licensed titles that Mobage has put out such as the rather poor Marvel: War of Heroes. Transformers Legends fares slightly better in the interactivity stakes than past entries in the card-battle genre, but not by much; at heart, it’s still a rather tedious, immensely repetitive experience almost totally devoid of any real sense of strategy, narrative or indeed excitement.
Like most card-battle games, Transformers Legends is split into two distinct components: a single-player “mission” mode in which the player repeatedly taps on a button to gain experience and new cards, and a multiplayer PvP mode in which the player taps on a “fight” button and hopes that their cards have higher numbers on than their opponent’s. To its credit, Transformers Legends does flesh both of these modes out slightly more than normal — the “mission” mode occasionally features rhythmic tapping on the screen to “defend” against attacks and the PvP mode’s cards do feature special abilities that automatically come into play at the appropriate time — but for the most part this game is very much business as usual. Acquire cards, upgrade them by fusing them with “trash” cards, complete missions to level up until energy runs out, fight other players until “battle cubes” run out, end session, repeat later in the day.
Game company GungHo Online, the makers of the Japanese juggernaut mobile game Puzzle & Dragons, saw its market cap surge to $9 billion as its stock prices significantly jumped in the past few days.
GungHo’s stock, which is traded on the Osaka Stock Exchange, has more than doubled in price in April, increasing by about 20 percent from yesterday to today. As industry watcher and analyst Dr. Serkan Toto pointed out, the swell in the Japanese company’s stock price could be attributed to the recent launch of the English version of Puzzle & Dragons on Android, and the announcement for a version of the puzzle and role-playing game hybrid for the Nintendo DS handheld system and a new spin-off game called Puzzle & Dragons Challenge for iOS and Android (both titles are Japan only).
GungHo’s market cap is larger than other Japanese gaming powerhouses like GREE and DeNA as well as Zynga, which released its quarterly earnings yesterday.
Puzzle & Dragons, which is said to be generating $62 million to $86 million per month, was labeled by Distimo as the top grossing app worldwide.
Cut the Rope: Time Travel is a new mobile game from Zeptolab, and the third in the popular physics-based puzzle series. It’s available for $0.99 on iPhone, $2.99 on iPad and for free on Android. This review is based on the iPhone version.
For those unfamiliar with the Cut the Rope series, they are simple physics puzzle games in which the player must drop a piece of candy into the mouth of a hungry green monster named Om Nom. The candy is typically suspended at an inconvenient place in the level by one or more ropes, so the player must determine which of the ropes must be cut by swiping through them in order to get the candy into Om Nom’s mouth. Further challenges are provided by gold stars scattered around each level, which the player must cause the candy to pass through on its way to Om Nom if they want to get the best scores.
Cut the Rope: Time Travel doesn’t deviate particularly far from this formula. The basic gameplay is the same, but the main difference is that in most levels, you’ll be feeding two Om Noms instead of one — one is the Om Nom from “our” time, while the other is supposedly one of his ancestors from the time period each of the sets of levels is based around. Both Om Noms must be successfully fed in order to pass the level.
Tekken Card Tournament is a new iOS and Android game from Namco Bandai’s European arm. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries numerous in-app purchases.
As the title suggests, Tekken Card Tournament is a digital collectible card game based on Namco’s popular and long-running fighting game series Tekken. Players make use of decks of virtual cards themed after characters from the Tekken franchise, and then take the fight to either computer- or human-controlled opponents in live online turn-based one-on-one battles.
The fighting gameplay in Tekken Card Tournament makes use of a “rock, paper, scissors” system whereby each player may pick one of three actions on each turn. Choosing to “Focus” allows you to draw a card into your hand, up to a limit of five. Choosing “Strike” allows you to attack with all the cards in your hand and also destroys the first (oldest) card in your opponent’s hand if they choose to Focus. Choosing “Block,” meanwhile, blocks the first two cards from an opponent’s hand if they choose to “Strike,” but otherwise has no effect. The challenge of the game primarily consists of determining what the opponent is likely to do next based on the cards they have in their hand — except under special circumstances, both players’ hands are visible to one another — and then taking the optimum course of action. Play is kept pacy thanks to a time limit for each turn and a mechanic which obliterates both players’ hands completely if they both block for more than two turns in succession.
Extreme Road Trip 2 is a new Facebook game from Roofdog Games. It’s currently highlighted in the “New Games” section of Facebook’s App Center, and is also available for iOS and Android-based devices via the App Store and Google Play respectively. This review is based on the Facebook incarnation of the game.
Extreme Road Trip 2 is a combination of two popular casual game genres: the endless runner and the physics-based stunt racer. Players take control of an out-of-control vehicle and must try and survive for as long as possible over an increasingly-unduluating course littered with various obstacles, coins to collect and landmines that fling their vehicle into the air. Controlling the vehicle is a simple matter of using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to spin it when it is in the air, and ensuring the car lands the right way up when it hits the ground. The speed at which the car hits the ground is not important — so long as it is still wheels-down when it lands, it will continue driving. Particularly accurate landings will reward the player with a speed boost.
Frontline Commando: D-Day is a new iOS and Android game from Glu Mobile. At the time of writing, it doesn’t appear to have hit the two platforms’ respective app marketplaces as yet, but it is set to do so later this week, and will be a free download with additional in-app purchases, much like Glu’s other titles.
Frontline Commando: D-Day is the follow-up to Glu’s previous title Frontline Commando, but exchanges the earlier title’s modern-day setting for the Normandy landings in World War II. Several years back, the first- and third-person shooter market was saturated with World War II-themed shooters, but the trends have shifted back in favor of modern-day conflicts these days. Glu’s return to the D-Day landings helps distinguish the new game from its numerous contemporaries.
Gameplay in Frontline Commando is more of a gallery shooter than a true third-person shooter. Players automatically move from cover point to cover point in each level, and must then eliminate all enemies in the area in order to progress to the next hotspot. Once all the hotspots have been cleared, the level is complete and the player receives rewards. Three objectives in each level provide the player with specific challenges to accomplish such as beating a particular completion time or performing a certain number of headshots, and successfully achieving these rewards the player with stars, which are used to unlock additional rewards and new campaigns at regular intervals. (more…)
Towers is a Facebook game from Xi-Art Inc. It’s currently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center as well as sidebar advertising modules within the App Center, and is also available for iOS and Android devices. This review is based on the Facebook incarnation of the game.
Towers is a cards-based solitaire game somewhat similar to PopCap’s Solitaire Blitz and standalone downloadable card games such as Big Fish’s Fairway Solitaire and Subsoap’s Faerie Solitaire. The basic mechanics are the same — players have a single “draw” pile of cards, from which one is face-up at all times, and cards from the on-screen arrangement must be matched to the draw pile by clicking on those of a value one higher or lower than the current face-up card. Kings wrap around to aces and vice-versa. If there is no card available to play onto the current face-up card, the player must click on the draw pile to take a new face-up card. The round is over when one of three conditions are met: the draw pile is exhausted, the 120-second time limit expires or the player clears the arrangement of cards on screen. At the conclusion of a round, if the player has met the target score — which usually only happens if they successfully clear the screen, due to the significant bonuses this provides — they may move on to another round, otherwise the game is over and their best score is recorded on a weekly tournament leaderboard.
The game features an experience level system that slowly creeps up with each completed game — more experience is earned for higher scores. Upon each level up, the player unlocks a “skill” which affects the gameplay in a minor way — usually by increasing their final score by 1% at a time. At level 3, the player unlocks the ability to earn soft currency with each game, though they may not actually spend this soft currency on powerups until they have earned at least 1,000 units of it. Given that an average game barely nets double-digit quantities of soft currency, earning 1,000 of these silver coins will take a very long time without making an in-app purchase. This only unlocks the first of three powerups, too — the others must be unlocked by using the previous ones ten times, which will require a significant total amount of soft currency to achieve. This rather questionable pacing is clearly a rather unsubtle attempt at nudging the player in the direction of the in-app purchase options (which are, it’s worth noting, available even when there’s nothing to spend the currency on) but thankfully the game is perfectly enjoyable and playable without the use of powerups. (more…)