Articles of Interest

Advice from Seth Godin: Call your customers. Or write to them. “I know that times might be tough for you. Is there anything I can do to pitch in and help?” Perhaps more practical for some companies than others, but I bet the spirit of this idea can be applied in many thoughtful ways.

PlayMesh, an iPhone game developer, has found an ingenious way to integrate microtransactions into its iMafia game. Since Apple doesn’t support or allow in-game microtransactions, PlayMesh has cleverly linked iMafia currency to the purchase of other PlayMesh games, like Chess Puzzles and Speed Shapes. In other words, if you purchase Speed Shapes, you get not only that game, but currency that can be spent within iMafia. Brilliant.

I just discovered this New Yorker article written by Malcolm Gladwell in 2006, about companies that can supposedly predict, with far greater success than experts, the likelihood that a song or movie will be successful. Unfortunately, the article is so breezy that it’s hard to evaluate the claims within it; but still, interesting!

Soren has written an excellent article about in-game economies… the kind of article that begs for a follow-up or two. (Hint, hint…)

Given the level of passion that our customers have for our games, I’ve always wondered why more developers don’t invite fans (via a competition) to create compelling and unusual print/online advertisements for upcoming releases. Here’s some decent stuff that Street Fighter 4 fans created voluntarily. Now imagine if Capcom had explicitly requested submissions and offered a decent prize. Maybe give every entrant some purely-aesthetic but really cool-looking free DLC in SF4, on top of that. I bet that the top results would put to shame more than a few professional design firms.

Lots of interesting iPhone related stats: iPhone users made up 14 percent of mobile downloaders in November. Thirty-two percent of iPhone users said they downloaded a game during the month, considerably higher than the market average of 3.8 percent. Overall, the audience for downloaded mobile games grew 17 percent. For the same period, 20.5 million users said they played a downloaded game on a mobile device, or 8.9 percent of all mobile subscribers.

Amazon has announced the launch of their casual game download service, as expected ever since they acquired Reflexive. The most notable part of the announcement: games will be priced at $9.95 or less, instead of the more common max of $19.95. Also, Amazon won’t be offering any free games (advertisement or microtransaction supported) for now. My thoughts: it would be foolish to discount the potential impact of Amazon’s entrance into the market — they understand online merchandising better than anyone, and have a huge, loyal customer base that they can leverage. That said, I bet Amazon will be surprised by the resilience and effectiveness of its competitors in this space, most of which have been toughened by years of intense competition, and many of which have developed effective tools for retaining customers (i.e. Pogo’s tokens, badges and avatars; Kongregate’s “Kongai” game; the many forms of free-to-play content, in general.) One sign that Amazon’s new service isn’t having an explosive start: Totem Tribe, Amazon’s #1 Editor’s Pick, is currently ranked an abysmal 38,175th out of all video game-related products in Amazon’s catalogue. Kim has shared more thoughts of his own here.

There’s more to life than games:

For the democrats and geeks among you, a really funny patch log for the presidency. For example: “Leadership: Will now scale properly to national crises. Intelligence was not being properly applied.” Oh, and “Messages to and from the President will now be correctly saved to the chat log.” :-)

Coraline is now one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s a 3D, stop-motion animated film based on Neil Gaiman’s work. This is the kind of movie that will literally have you muttering out loud, in amazement, on more than one occasion. The 3D effects are incredible (we’ve come a long way from the cheesy blue/red lens films), the story is wonderful and the pacing is perfect. It’s safe for kids but perfectly entertaining for adults. Go see it in the best (preferably high-def, digital) theatre that you have access to!

More work and personal life productivity tips from Gummi.

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