At the recent Casual Connect show in San Francisco, we were excited to see video game makers offering a variety of products with broad appeal that even the most inexperienced and casual of app users could enjoy. Surprisingly, the way in which they attack this problem – making games more intuitive and approachable – requires some unexpectedly complex technology and tricks that most users will never get to see.
While there are more than a few services, products and apps the average smartphone, social network or tablet PC user might be familiar with on display at Casual Connect, (such as life-sized Candy Crush Saga pieces walking around to promote King’s meg-ahit app) much of what was present at the show in San Francisco are behind-the-scenes services that help track users, integrate ads and maximize revenues for game makers. That’s great in the majority of cases if you’re a developer who’s created an app, but of considerably less interest if you’re not a professional software maker. However, there are always some fun exceptions to the rule.
Following are six behind-the-scenes app services which quietly work hard to make players’ lives more fun and enjoyable. You may not recognize their names, but you can be glad these products are around, because they make the everyday experieneces we enjoy playing our favorite applications that much better.
Playphone – There’s probably an 83% chance that you’ve used PlayPhone’s service, and you may not even realize it. That’s because the company now provides mobile app download solution for that percentage of the North American carriers’ mobile and smartphone products. Playphone designs app stores and the delivery platform for you to search and receive recommendations directly from your phone carriers. With partnerships with AT&T, Verizon and the newly announced Sprint, the service they provide unwittingly touches the vast majority of app downloaders by providing the method for accessing content.
Arkadium – Every month, millions of Americans play crosswords on newspaper websites, AARP.com, cable network pages and more. But the LA Times, Discovery Network and dozens of more of these websites aren’t creating these games themselves. A company named Arkadium creates, curates and manages the “Games” page of many of the country’s most popular site, and does so behind the scenes. They’ve got hundreds of titles they rotate on these pages, but Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles are two of their most popular.
Lootsie – While many are familiar with the concept of virtual achievements to help engage player interest in games, platforms like Lootsie are emerging which are translating in-app activities into real-life rewards. Instead of working hard to earn virtual currency that is realistically worthless, Lootsie negotiaties with major brands to provide real-life benefits, such as Starbucks or Best Buy, and works across a number of different games.
PaeDae – Pronounced “PAY-day,” this service takes offering real-life rewards even further by allowing users to enter sweepstakes and giveaways without detracting from the in-game experience. They work with advertising agencies and game developers to make any advertising fun, instead of obtrusive, and only collect users e-mail addresses instead of pages of “lead-generating” personal information. For example, in the wildly popular “Car Town” Facebook game, PaeDae integrates a giveaway with Jack in the Box that to the user seems just like another fun part of the game, with real world benefits.
Tango – While many may be familiar with a business who provided face-to-face chat functionality before FaceTime stole its thunder, the company still has hundreds of millions of users of their chat client and has begun expanding their reach into the app market. In addition to simple-to-play games that are contained within their chat client, they’re seamlessly integrating with other app publishers the ability to track, challenge and interact with your Tango friends in games like Candy Block Breaker and Jetpack Jinx.
FreeMyApps – If you download a lot of apps, you may want to consider getting them through FreeMyApps. The company provides “points” for getting these through their service, and these points can be redeemed for iTunes credits. The service is especially useful for kids who may have an iPod touch or an old iPhone who don’t have any money in their iTunes account as a way to earn credits that can be used to purchase a handful of paid apps. WEBSITE