Bees and Pollen: What Games Can Learn From Social Insects


(Image from Alan Avidan, Bees and Pollen, showing LIft delivered by Bees and Pollen compared to competitors)


[Editor's Note: This story was a recap of an interview had with Alan Avidan, Executive Director of Business Development at Bees and Pollen occurred on June 6,2013, during Day 1 of the Inside Social Apps Conference in San Francisco.]

Alan Avidan of Bees and Pollen is working on a new type of game play: predictive personalization. The idea stems from the fact that many players get frustrated when they get stuck. For beginners this might mean not clearing level one, where as for more experienced players, the breaking point might occur when they can no longer unlock certain features without using the virtual store.


W3i’s Erik Lundberg on Android games monetization, tablet dominance, closing the gap with iOS

Monetization and insights provider W3i is stepping up its game with Pocket Gems and other mobile game developers on Android going into 2013. This could be the year that Google’s platform finally catches up in revenues to Apple’s iOS.

Through its expanded partnership with Pocket Gems, W3i now provides monetization solutions to Tap Paradise Cove and Campus Life. Far from being mere banner ads, the monetization service focuses instead on providing a native experience in these Android apps — tailoring ads, offers and video campaigns to the user experience.

Erik Lundberg, General Manager at W3i’s San Francisco office (pictured), explains that the shift toward native experiences comes from mobile advertising finally moving away from online advertising models. With 15 years in online ads before joining W3i just eight months ago, he’s had time to study the changing trends.

“In the early days of ads and mobile apps, people took online models and slapped them on a smartphone like small banner ads that are only 100 pixels wide,” says Lundberg. “Users have tuned those out. More native ads like a full screen interstitial or offer-based ads, we see a much higher CPM, like 10 times higher. We think that trend will continue toward native ads that are a part of the application instead of just throwing up a banner.”


Code Lyoko review

Code Lyoko is a Facebook game from 3DDUO and Moonscoop. It’s the official social game adaptation of one of French animated TV series Code Lyoko, one of Moonscoop’s key brands. In the original TV series, a cast of diverse characters delve into a virtual world to battle against a multi-agent computer program called XANA; in the game, players create their own avatar to join the fight.

Code Lyoko the game assumes that the player has prior knowledge of Code Lyoko the TV show, because it provides absolutely no context for what is going on upon first starting. The player is immediately introduced to some of the characters from the show and invited to create their avatar by choosing a class and customizing skin/hair color. Each of the character class’ distinctive designs are based on established characters from the show, allowing players to recreate their favorite hero. Once this has been completed, the game leads players through the early stages with a story-driven tutorial. (more…)

Monopoly Millionaire Mansions review

Monopoly Millionaire Mansions is a new Web-based social game from Hasbro, designed primarily as a promotional vehicle for its new Monopoly Millionaire board game. The game can be played now on the open Web and signed into either with a proprietary account or Facebook. However the player chooses to sign in, they are identified by a username made up of three words chosen from three separate lists, and a freely-chosen number.

Monopoly Millionaire Mansions is a location-based game that uses the Google Maps API. Players scan around the world to pick a suitable spot for their dream home and must then zoom in to the maximum level to pick a plot on which to build. Upon selecting a plot, the player is given a choice of several different mansion styles from which to choose, and is then given the opportunity to decorate the mansion with up to ten items. These items are initially pulled from a “level 1″ stock, but as the player builds more mansions they unlock access to additional tiers of decorations. Items can be freely placed on the mansion, even in places that make no logical or physical sense, and a “bring to front” button allows for items to be correctly layered if there is a problem with perspective. Players may also remove items, move them and replace them at will at any time. (more…)

Headlines from Inside Mobile Apps’ WWDC 2012 coverage

Here’s a convenient spot to find all Inside Mobile Apps’ coverage of Apple’s developer conference in San Francisco this week. This is the first WWDC since the passing of Steve Jobs.

Day one kicked off with a keynote featuring current CEO Tim Cook, VP of Mac Software Engineering Craig Federighi and Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall.

More as the conference progresses.

Zynga up to 21M mobile daily active users on strength of Q1 releases

During today’s earnings call, Zynga revealed it had grown to 21 million mobile daily active users, compared to the 12 million DAU it had in Q4 2011.

COO John Schappert says that the bulk of the growth was organically generated by Words With Friends, Scramble With Friends and Zynga Poker. Draw Something, while boasting impressive numbers all on its own, didn’t become a part of Zynga until very late in the quarter — which is why it didn’t account for more of that growth. Mark Pincus explained that the game’s monthly unique users were factored into Zynga’s Q1 2012 earnings; it’s monthly unique paying players were not.

Schappert also pointed out on the call that Zynga Poker — a three-year-old mobile game — finally broke into the No. 1 spot on Android’s Top Grossing chart, having already achieved that distinction on iOS. Apple also recognized Words With Friends in March as the No. 1 free game app of all time.

Read the rest on our sister site, Inside Mobile Apps.

Zynga reports highest ever bookings for Q1 at $329M

Zynga’s made $329 million in bookings and $321 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 15 percent and 32 percent year-on-year, respectively. The developer reported a net loss at $85.4 million, compared to a net income of $16.8 million for Q1 2011.

Daily active users are up 6 percent year-on-year from 62 million to 65 million. Monthly unique users are up 25 percent to 182 million from 146 million in Q1 2011. Zynga also says it increased monthly unique paying users from 2.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 3.5 million. Zynga released six games during Q1 2012, four of them mobile: Hidden Chronicles, Zynga Slingo, Scramble with Friends, Dream PetHouse, Dream Heights and Draw Something (which Zynga acquired just before the end of the quarter). Last year, Zynga only had CityVille to rely on for Q1 bookings and revenue, which launched in late Q4 2010. That game is still top dog among games on Facebook in terms of MAU at 41.6 million today. Words With Friends holds the top spot for DAU at 7.6 million.

For 2012, Zynga is projecting bookings in a range of $1.425 billion to $1.5 billion with most of the growth coming in the second half of the year. That’s up from its previous bookings guidance of $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion on account of the OMGPOP acquisition. The company is budgeting stock-based expenses somewhere between $420 million to $445 million, excluding any equity awards it might grant in future acquisitions. Capital expenditures fall somewhere between $390 million and $410 million, which includes the price of Zynga’s San Francisco corporate headquarters building, purchased at the beginning of the month.

More to come.

Riot Games Raises $8M, Goes After China Gaming Market

Riot Games socialRiot Games is planning to launch a new game in October, called League of Legends, that combines hardcore gaming with casual online features. Today, the company announced that it has raised $8 million from leading Chinese social media company Tencent and existing investors Benchmark Capital and FirstMark Capital.

In Legends, players are “summoners” — wizards that summon “champions” to fight each other in battle. You can have up to six people per team, earn skill that you can carry across battles. My former colleague at VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi, has more on how the company plans to make money:

The game is a free-to-play game, meaning players can start playing for free. If they want to decorate their characters or buy time-saving features, they have to pay. Riot was able to set up the virtual goods system in a deal with Fatfoogoo, a virtual goods and electronic commerce platform maker. With Fatfoogoo, the company was able to add two kinds of currency: one that you can earn through experience, the other that you can buy with real money. Games with these dual currency systems are considered more fair, since rich players can’t entirely buy their way to victory. Players can spend the currency in the game’s store, where they can buy a variety of items.

League of Legends will first roll out in the U.S. and Europe, and later expand to Asia. Tencent, notably, plans to carry the game to its hundreds of millions of users in China.

Vitaminwater Uses New Game App for Market Research

Vitaminwater, the beverage brand that has become nationally-known this decade through clever marketing efforts, is making another innovative move today — on Facebook. It has launched its own application, called “flavorcreator,” that appears within its Page and intends to get users creating their own virtual vitaminwater beverages.

While the app has all sorts of games, contests and other features, what it really is trying to do is gather market research about the sorts of flavors that Facebook users like. More on that in a second.

Facebook vitaminwater

On its face, the app is a notably complex effort by a big brand to build a meaningful experience on Facebook, even as many others are still experimenting with basic Facebook page functionality like wall postings.

The app is actually a three-step game, and it has not gone fully live yet….

> Continue reading at Inside Facebook Brings Roulette to Facebook

RouletteOkay, don’t deny it. You’ve thought about winning big in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or even on a casino ship. Maybe you don’t always act on those gambling urges, but it can’t be denied that winning is fun, and winning money is even better. Here’s the thing about gambling though: While luck is critical, there is strategy involved and that is what a number of gamers find most fun (well… and the whole winning cash thing).

One of the more popular casino games is roulette (you know the game where you spin a dial and drop a ball into it and see where it lands?). It’s pretty simple and fun to play, and that is exactly what the Facebook title, Roulette, from is about.

The game is very well made and emulates the real deal astoundingly well (save the mob of people bunched around the table). The game generously starts you off with $10,000, which you’re probably going to need depending on your luck. The rules are the same as real roulette: place your bets on the numbers you want, on black, red, odds, even, etc, and let the wheel spin.

Beginner SuiteAs you progress and win money, you get a nice little suite all to yourself as well, which is upgraded (or downgraded) depending on how much money you have. As this is a Facebook game, you share and show off your “winnings” (your suite) to your friends. Since you cannot win any real money (yet, anyway), this is the primary reward for playing as well as the differentiating social feature beyond challenges and player rankings.

Roulette also looks very clean and polished. It really does feel like a real roulette table, and is definitely up there as far as nice looking apps go. Unfortunately, there are some bugs still in it, primarily with sound. Apparently every time you rank up or down (from gaining or loosing money), the game starts repeating an obnoxious clicking sound that just won’t go away, and will multiply if you rank up again.

Regardless, the game is still an excellent game, and the best part – it is just about being a good game.

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