Online and mobile gaming are huge. Everyone knows that. But what if there were a way to translate a player’s social gaming activity into a real-life reward? Oh, there is?! Let’s take a walk…
There are a couple game development teams that are recently making headlines for this very idea. One is a partnership between Kiip and GameSalad, the other is Sojo Studios‘ WeTopia for Facebook. While one focuses more on a personal reward system, the other allows gamers to make charitable contributions to causes around the world. I believe these gaming models will change the way developers and advertisers think about game creation and monetization.
The ‘Me’ Impact
Kiip and GameSalad announced a partnership yesterday that could potentially change mobile gaming from this point forward. Kiip utilizes a reward system for gamers, giving them prizes for completing certain achievements in games. These rewards include anything from food and drinks, to discount coupons from major retailers. GameSalad provides an easy way for developers to create mobile games.
The partnership is good for both parties, as Kiip’s reward system will be built directly into GameSalad’s tools, and a mobile developer would only need to check a box to include the system in his/her game. The partnership is also good for brand sponsors (such as Sephora, 1-800 Flowers and Dr. Pepper), as user engagement is increased on account of the pursuit of the reward.
Brian Wong, 20-year-old founder of Kiip, explains that this type of advertising system is better than traditional banner ads in mobile games because it “creates an emotional connection with gamers because it gives them a reward at the exact moment when they have accomplished something difficult.”
The ‘We’ Impact
Stealthy startup SoJo Studios is launching today with a little help from some big-name backers. SoJo – short for “Social Joy” – Studios was founded by Lincoln Brown, whose mission is to “get people to play online games that actually impact the world.”
WeTopia is SoJo Studios’ first attempt at social gaming with a heart. WeTopia is like Zynga games in the sense that players build farms, landscapes and communities on Facebook; but instead of earning virtual currency, WeTopia users earn “Joy.” Joy can be spent on things like planting trees, providing clean water to a community, etc. – so wherever a player spends their Joy in the game, “SoJo gives one of its partnering charities money to accomplish the task, or a similar task, in real life,” according to Business Insider. This initiative to do good has attracted the likes of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres as one of its main investors. DeGeneres will be promoting the game on her show.
As stated in Venture Beat, WeTopia players will be able to track their contributions make within the game through photos, videos, blog posts and in-game updates. “The goal,” they say, “is to combine fun and tangible help, so that rewards in games are more than just a collection of points.”
Players will not have to pay in order to play or make a difference; sponsors make donations on behalf of the Joy spent in games.
Reaching a new level, unlocking an item, building a functioning farm or neighborhood - these are all achievements that already entertain millions of people daily. Now imagine these same achievements with real-life rewards. Whether it’s a free cup of coffee, or sending new books to an underprivileged community, my guess is that social gaming is going to be expanding its horizons in many new ways to come.