Full-service Chinese mobile games publisher Yodo1 revealed a social games platform it plans to launch in Western markets. The platform, titled Kryptanium, allows developers to add social and cross-promotional features into every game, including single-player games, with an API.
The Kryptanium platform emerged naturally out of Yodo1’s localization and publishing business, helping Western developers monetize their games in China. In Western markets, social networks like Twitter and Facebook are invaluable tools to developers for marketing their games, and can, in the best cases, have a viral affect. But this is much harder to achieve in China where Google, Twitter and Facebook are blocked.
Kryptanium aims to solve this problem by integrating with the popular alternatives to Facebook in China (Sina Weibo, QQ and Tencent Weibo) and pulling them all to one platform which can then cross-promote to a large audience. An added benefit to the platform is that the user can interact with the platform, tap on cross-promotions and download new games all without exiting their current game session. “Never leave the game,” is the guiding philosophy, Yodo1’s vice president and lead on Kryptanium Spencer Liu told us. “When the developers we work with saw Kryptanium in action, the response was very enthusiastic. They asked us how they can use it, right now and in the U.S.”
Farm Heroes Saga is a new Facebook game from the newly-rebranded King, released alongside the recent Papa Pear Saga. Access has been somewhat limited until recently, but the game is now open to all players, and being actively promoted via the front page of Facebook’s App Center.
Like most of King’s other games, Farm Heroes Saga takes very heavy cues from well-established puzzle game mechanics. In this case, it follows the same Bejeweled-like mold as the company’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga, which is presently being heavily promoted in a variety of different media and topping both the MAU and DAU charts as a result. Farm Heroes Saga is presumably an attempt to ensnare the same 45.5 million (estimated) monthly active users and 15 million (estimated) daily active users who are currently playing Candy Crush Saga on a regular basis — but is releasing an almost-identical game the right way to go about it?
Farm Heroes Saga’s basic gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled. Players swap various fruits and vegetables around on a grid in an attempt to make matches of three or more like-colored objects in a horizontal or vertical row. When a match is made, it disappears, causing objects above it to drop down into the space that has been made.
Logo Game is a Facebook game from Canadian developer Media Sense Interactive. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is presently showing up in the Trending section of the App Center.
Logo Game is a very simple and straightforward game that tasks players with identifying brand logos. In the case of logos which have distinctive text, the words have been removed and only the basic graphic design left behind. In the case of logos which are nothing but text (such as Google), certain letters have been left behind. The player’s job is to identify the logo from the clue given and then type it in using their keyboard — this means they actually have to know what it is rather than hoping they get lucky from a multiple-choice question.
Game developer and publisher Electronic Arts announced that on June 14 it will retire three of its Facebook games: Sim City Social, The Sims Social and Pet Society.
EA made the announcement on its website and explained that the games were being retired so it can “can reallocate development resources to other titles.” The announcement also encourages players to spend their existing balance of in-game currency as it will become invalid starting June 14.
This is a dramatic but not at all surprising move for EA. EA’s Q2 2013 earnings report was scant on information about the company’s performance and plans for its social games. However, former EA CEO John Riccitiello then revealed the company’s changed its outlook from last quarter as it’s shifted to focusing on mobile development, killing or delaying as many as 10 different social games.
Crush City is a Facebook game from Qublix. It’s been showing activity since January this year, but is currently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center.
Crush City is a puzzle game in the Diamond Dash mold. That is, it’s a color-matching puzzle game in which players must find groups of like-colored objects that are orthogonally adjacent to one another and then click on them to make them disappear. Rather than adopting the fast-paced “blitz” format of Diamond Dash and many of its imitators, however, Crush City instead takes a linear level-based approach with specific objectives to complete on each stage. Players expend lives on making an attempt at each level, and get them back if they are successful.
Mahjong: The Secret Garden is a Facebook game from Inertia Game Studios. It’s available now to all players on the social network, and is presently showing up as a Trending app on App Center.
Computerized representations of mahjong, or more accurately mahjong/Shanghai solitaire, is a surprisingly under-represented subdivision of the puzzle game category on Facebook, as it has been a popular tabletop game to adapt into standalone casual computer games for many years now. There are a few mahjong solitaire games on Facebook, but none have managed to capture the public’s imagination in the same way as the myriad Bejeweled and Puzzle Bobble clones out there — despite the mechanics of mahjong solitaire being no more complicated than those games.
In mahjong solitaire, mahjong tiles (which are printed with various symbols including Chinese characters) are arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing and/or symbolic formation, often with several layers of tiles overlapping one another. Players must remove tiles from the arrangement two at a time by matching those with the same symbol and value that are “exposed” — in other words, able to move freely from side to side without disturbing other tiles. This typically means matching tiles from the outermost tiles in each layer of the arrangement, and tiles from different layers may be matched so long as they are exposed.
Dessert Shop is a Facebook game from Shinezone, who for some reason has omitted its name from almost everything to do with the game. It’s available now on the social network, and is presently highlighted on the front page of the App Center.
Dessert Shop is a simple management game in which players take on the role of a pâtissier (or, if they so wish, a pâtissière) that has just opened a new establishment. Through collecting ingredients and combining them together into various recipes, they are able to satisfy their customers with a selection of tasty treats and make money in the process.
Basic gameplay in Dessert Shop is along the same lines as other typical Facebook “Sim” games. Unfolding from an isometric perspective, the game tasks players with placing items which “grow” ingredients every few minutes, harvesting these ingredients and then using them on special cooking stations to create either complete dishes or more complex ingredients that go into other dishes. For example, wheat can be harvested in garden plots, then sent to a grinder to make flour, which can then be used to make other recipes. The items which “grow” ingredients aren’t necessarily plants — special shelves provide the player with basic ingredients like sugar and milk every few minutes, presumably representing deliveries in thematic terms.
Cook Hero is a Facebook game from RapaZapp Interactive Studios. The game has been showing activity since December of last year, but has recently showed up in the Trending section of Facebook’s App Center.
Cook Hero is a match-three puzzle game in the Bejeweled mold — that is, it primarily involves swapping objects around in order to make horizontal or vertical lines of like-colored objects. In terms of overall game structure and presentation, Cook Hero takes extremely heavy cues from King’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga — players work their way through a linear series of levels one at a time, and every few levels the objective required to complete a level changes, ranging from scoring a certain number of points to destroying all the blocks of ice in the background of a level. All levels have a limited number of moves in which to achieve their objective, and failing to complete the level before all moves have been used costs the player a life. Lives replenish at the rate of one every half an hour, up to a maximum of five, and can, as usual, be replenished quicker either by paying or begging to friends.
Spot It is a Facebook game from Ravensburger Digital. It’s currently being highlighted by Facebook in the “New Games” section of App Center.
Spot It is a game that challenges players to look at pairs of near-identical images and spot the differences between them. Each pair of images has a particular number of differences to find and can be challenged in one of two different modes. There is also a collection metagame that encourages repeat play, and social competition between friends.
The game opens with an initial tutorial in which the player is tasked with completing a simple pair of images, then the process of purchasing “booster packs” of pictures is explained. Players earn coins with each successfully-completed puzzle, and these coins may be used to purchase the aforementioned booster packs. Each booster pack has a specific theme and contains several randomly-selected images from that theme’s collection — “mixed” packs containing images from all themes are also available for a lower cost. Purchasing a booster is no guarantee that you will obtain unique images, however — any duplicates you acquire go into the “trade” menu and can be exchanged with other players, much like a real-life sticker swap meet. At present a special promotion is running whereby purchasing a single booster pack also gives you an extra free one for gifting to a friend — the extra pack cannot be kept for yourself.
Mobile and social game developer and publisher Rumble Entertainment today announced it will publish Ballistic, a AAA-quality first-person shooter for Facebook and browsers. The game is developed by Aquiris Game Studio located in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Set in real-world locations, the game will have two rival teams, the MFA and the Smokes, fight each other for control of an energy source in modes like deathmatch, capture points, and king of the hill. Players will be able to choose from a selection of firearms and skill perks as well as the ability to create customized loadouts.
At GDC last week, we were able to sit down and spend a great deal of time playing the game on mid-range PC laptops. The first thing that stood out to us was the quality of Ballistic’s graphics: The Unity Engine has been fully utilized to present a beautiful, high-quality game that would not look out of place if it were running on a high-end PC or a console.