Editor’s note: During the upcoming Inside Social Games Conference on June 6-7, Bret Terrill, the Founder of 12gigs.com, will be moderating two panels on the future of social apps, “Gambling Games: The Promise of Real Money,” and “Platform Opportunities for Social Apps.” InsideSocialGames.com had the opportunity to ask Bret two important questions on the future of social and mobile games.
InsideSocialGames: Is it possible to build a cross-platform gaming network? Is this something the world wants?
Bret Terrill: A cross-platform gaming network is something that a lot of people were chasing last year as the next big thing. The idea was: Similar to Facebook owning the social graph, a company could own the “gamer graph”, connecting people who liked certain genres across platforms and games. As it stands today, Facebook is really the only company that has been successful in creating a cross-platform (PC and multiple mobile environments) gaming network , one that has largely fed off their immense social network.
Other large games companies, such as DeNA and Gree, have had success in the Japanese market, but they have moved toward a publisher model in the last year. It is an open question on whether Clash of Clans players care about what other games the people they “friend” within the game are playing. I suspect the gameing industry itself cares much more than the players, who are more interested to see what is in the top charts of their phone’s App Store.
Questionary is a new Facebook game from Kobojo. It’s been around since late January and has been seeing some slow but steady growth since, and is also currently featured in the “New Games” section of Facebook’s App Center. The game is also available for iOS and Android devices. This review is based on the Facebook version.
Questionary is an asynchronous quiz game that does not deviate significantly from the successful format established by titles such as the immensely popular SongPop. Players challenge one of their friends or a random opponent fo a trivia battle, and are then tasked with answering five questions. At the end of the five questions, they receive a score according to how many questions they got correct and how quickly they answered. Whoever earns the most points is declared the winner of that round, and a rematch can then be requested if desired. The game keeps track of the total number of wins and losses between each pair of opponents, and invites players to post on their opponents’ Timelines after they have completed a round. (more…)
Disney City Girl is a life simulation Facebook game from Disney Playdom. It first came out in November, and has been showing up on the Emerging Facebook Games charts recently. It’s also available to play on Playdom’s web portal.
Disney City Girl casts players in the role of a girl who has graduated from college and decides to move to New York in an attempt to make something of her life. There is no option to play as a male character — unsurprising, given the title, but there is very little in the game that is not relevant to both genders. It is therefore somewhat surprising to see Playdom limiting its audience like this — the game is clearly heavily inspired by The Sims, which ably caters to players of both genders and all sexualities rather than limiting itself to the narrow stereotype of the shopping-obsessed girl.
It would not have been too much of a stretch for the game to be called something along the lines of “Disney City Life” and provide the ability for both genders to represent themselves as they saw fit, but sadly it is not to be, it seems. According to the developers, this is because the “paper doll” mechanic of dressing up an avatar is supposedly more popular with female players, and that female avatars get more interesting clothing. While this may well be true, it seems unnecessarily exclusionary and feels like pandering to stereotypes. (more…)
Animal Blitz is a Facebook game from Thai developer Sanook Online. It showed up as the No. 15 emerging Facebook game earlier in the month.
The first thing many players will notice about Animal Blitz — depending on the speed and quality of their connection — is how long it takes to load, because at several minutes, it is very noticeable. Not only that, but the game doesn’t appear to cache its information locally on the user’s computer, meaning that this lengthy load time occurs every time the game is started. And to make matters worse, the game frequently breaks to load when switching between menu screens or starting a new round — surely with an initial loading break of that length, the game could have minimized in-game load times. Lengthy load times are not particularly conducive to a feeling of “pick up and play” so this may set a negative first impression for some players.
Fortunately, once the initial loading is done with, Animal Blitz proves itself to be a fun and competent, if totally unoriginal, puzzle game. It’s a match-3 puzzler of the Bejeweled Blitz mold, requiring players to match horizontal or vertical lines of three or more animals to “rescue” them in order to score points. Like Bejeweled Blitz, the player has a limited amount of time in which to score as many points as possible, but unlike PopCap’s title, the player may earn time extensions during play by matching a certain number of a specific animal — Bejeweled Blitz only allowed the player to purchase time extensions with soft currency before the game begins. (more…)
Kings & Warlords is a new Facebook game from Digital Chocolate. It’s a massively-multiplayer “hardcore” strategy game, and showed up as the No. 2 emerging Facebook game at the end of last week.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Kings & Warlords was a Kabam game at first glance, since its structure, interface and indeed gameplay is almost identical to Kabam’s popular Facebook and mobile titles. Thematically, it is closest to Kingdoms of Camelot, with the action unfolding in a medieval fantasy world and the player training various types of troop with which to defend their kingdom. (more…)
Aquantika is an aquarium-themed Facebook game from Skylance LLC. The game showed up as the No. 8 emerging Facebook game last week, with a MAU increase of 11,000 (122%).
Aquantika sees players overseeing their own custom fish tank in an attempt to collect as many breeds of fish as possible and earn money through selling them. Fishes may be purchased using soft or hard currency then placed in the tank. Normally they are purchased as babies, but with hard currency they may be purchased ready-grown into adults. Fishes must be fed before they will grow from a baby into an adult and subsequently breed, but they only need to be fed once every day or so. It is also possible to purchase an auto-feeder with the hard currency the game provides the player with at the start of the game — this begins with enough food for seven days, but must then be topped up by expending soft currency. (more…)
Joy Kingdom is a Facebook game from Sojo Studios, developers of WeTopia. Like their previous title, Joy Kingdom is an awareness-raising game that allows players to contribute to various real-world charitable projects through playing — though this time the focus is on animal welfare rather than projects to benefit human communities. It is presently available to the public in open beta on Facebook. The game showed up as the No. 7 emerging Facebook game last week.
The basic gameplay is Joy Kingdom is fairly conventional. Through purchasing structures, building and farming, players will earn various resources with which they can continue to unlock additional items. The eventual aim is to clean up the tainted land of all the “shadowy” creatures and plants, and bring joy back to the land.
The main focus of the game is generating the Joy resource in order to provide help to the various real-world projects. Choosing to help a real-world project means that the player must place a “spirit animal” representing the project in their game world, and when they have collected enough Joy they may feed it to the animal to help increase the amount of support that project will get. (more…)
Wordz IQ is a Facebook game from Playforia. It’s another entry in the company’s “IQ” series, which now includes Bubbles IQ, Gems IQ and Poker IQ.
All of Playforia’s “IQ” games follow a similar formula — players compete in the game’s challenges individually, then their scores are tallied up with their friends’ in order to produce a “team IQ score.” Reaching various milestones in the “team score” awards all players with free powerups that can be used in the game — these usually cost real money to acquire, as there is no other in-game currency.
While the basic structure of Playforia’s “IQ” games is the same, the actual play mechanics are rather different in each instance. While Bubbles IQ, which we reviewed here, was a conventional bubble shooter, Wordz IQ is a single-player crossword/Scrabble-style puzzle game that challenges players to create words using a limited selection of letters. (more…)
Diamond Speedy is a Facebook game from Speedy Winner Holdings Ltd. It’s been showing activity since October of this year and appeared as the No. 15 emerging game at the end of last week. It’s also available on iOS, Kindle Fire and Google Play, but this review is based on the Facebook incarnation of the game.
Diamond Speedy is, as its name suggests, a social puzzle game that follows the Diamond Dash formula and adds a few small twists to create a distinctive, if rather familiar experience. Players must click on groups of three or more contiguous like-colored gems to remove them from the board and score points. The game adopts the “blitz” puzzle style, whereby players have a minute to score as many points as possible, rather than a linear level-based mechanic. Unlike Diamond Dash, which uses a 10×10 grid, Diamond Speedy uses a somewhat more cramped 8×8 grid reminiscent of that seen in Bejeweled Blitz. The gem designs are also clearly inspired by PopCap’s title, each having their own distinct shape as well as color — good for color-blind players.
Diamond Speedy encourages repeat play through a combination of mechanics — firstly, there is the usual weekly leaderboard, allowing friends to compete against each other for the highest score. Secondly, however, is a role-playing game style leveling system, in which players earn experience after each game, and may assign “skill points” to three different statistics upon each level up. The three statistics include a score boost, an increase in the amount of “mana” earned for each match, and an increase in the amount of time the player may remain in “lightning mode.” Mana builds up in a meter at the top of the play area as the player makes matches, and zaps a number of gems out of the way when it fills up — but it also declines over time or when the player attempts to make an illegal move. Lightning mode, meanwhile, is similar to Bejeweled Blitz’s “frenzy” mode — making a large number of matches in a short space of time causes special visual effects, and for each match to also destroy the gems around it, making for much more fast-paced play. (more…)
Stars Connect is a new Facebook game from IsCool Entertainment. The game has been showing activity since October of this year, and showed up as the No. 13 emerging Facebook game last week.
Stars Connect is a game that combines the asynchronous music knowledge quiz of SongPop with the highly social, addictive nature of collectible card games. Players must earn “Stars Points” through playing against their friends, then use these points to purchase packs of cards in an attempt to collect complete sets and trade with their friends.
The player is initially introduced to the game’s quiz component through a mock competition against a computer opponent. Much like in SongPop, players are played a short clip of music and must identify either its title or artist from a selection of four different options. The faster they answer, the more points they receive. When both participants have had a turn, a winner is declared and rewarded; in the case of the tutorial game, it is assumed that the player wins against the computer opponent, who automatically forfeits all of the answers. Upon completing a competition, the player is awarded with Star Points, and may then take these into the Stars Club in an attempt to acquire new cards.