Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Chocolate (but none by Zynga). These games tend to lack the cutting-edge
sophistication of some of the newer generation of Facebook games, but
they do feature dual currency systems and the types of social interaction
that became standard in the second generation of social gaming. hi5 allows
hosts a virtual storefront where users can purchase and download games for
Windows, including titles like the Grand Theft Auto series and Gears of War .
The site has a universal system of coin, and some games claim to offer “cash
prizes.” hi5's “Game Developer Program” offers a portal for designers and
developers with a significant amount of information, APIs, and advice on
how to become a “Preferred Partner.”
Achieving Preferred Partner status means that hi5 will contribute marketing
resources to the games they expect will be popular, or to high-profile titles
that are exclusive to the platform. These sorts of incentives are attractive, as
is the hi5 platform called “SocioPath,” which has a companion suite of tools
for monetization called “SocioPay.” SocioPath is primarily a UI flow differen-
tiator, which seeks to reduce some of the early game friction associated with
inviting new users. Specifically, rather than force users to register or log in
to the site in order to play a game or join a friend who has invited them, the
SocioPath UI flow automatically creates a guest account for the user behind
the scenes, which allows them to begin playing instantly. Then if users want
to save their progress, they are prompted to log in or create an account.
SocioPay takes a similar look at ways to monetize users more effectively, for
example, by tracking player purchasing habits and by letting games promote
custom offers to different types of players.
These sorts of innovations show that hi5 is serious about being a gaming
platform and is focused on reducing barriers faced by new players interested
in their games. This alone makes hi5 worth watching; they are innovating in
the social games space, they are led by industry veterans, and they operate
under a well-funded mandate to “own” social gaming.
#10: Xbox Live online gameplay didn't appear on consoles in any major way
until the Xbox, and then not until the platform had been available for almost
two years. But it wasn't until the release of the Xbox 360—which featured
robust online matchmaking, leaderboards, voice and text chat, and a way to
investigate what games friends were playing—that any console truly had online
market share. Since the release of Xbox Live on Xbox 360 in 2005, the software
behemoth has continually improved the service, which offers both freemium
and subscription models. The service currently boasts more than 25 million
registered users, almost all of whom regularly play and purchase games.
#11: Orkut , named for its Turkish creator, Orkut Büyükkökten, claims approxi-
mately 15.5 million users. (However, other reports set the number as high
as 100 million.) Notably, Orkut is a significant operator in emerging markets
like India and Brazil. Users from these two countries make up a more than
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