Viewing entries tagged
Mafia Wars

MyTown Social Gaming Strategy

MyTown is best described as Zynga meets Foursquare. Take the best aspects of social gaming (Zynga) and combine them with location based networking (Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp) and you have MyTown: a game that awards points based on live social game mechanics built atop location-based check ins. You can own real properties (akin to being the mayor) and then collect rent (similar to Mafia Wars, Farmville) based on popularity and live activity (again like Foursquare).

MyTown's point structure is particularly clever and powerful because it creates an incentive structure predicated on routine usage and social sharing. Two great examples that were perfected by Zynga:

1. Deprecation. Farmville is the master of this: because rents cap out at a specific amount, users must collect rent regularly (ie hourly) to maximize potential revenues. As a proxy, if you do not return to harvest your crops in Farmville, they actually deprecate. 2. Social Sharing. Check-ins are rewarded with points (ie 150 points). But large bounties are provided for social actions like: connecting the MyTown account to Facebook Connect, broadcasting your location via Facebook and/or Twitter, and adding commentary on the location.

Below is a strategy to MyTown from town billionaire Kirk Nguyen. Fascinating stuff:

Try to maximize your points payload with multipliers. It's a combination of using multiple multipliers, obtaining the multipliers that yield the most return, and holding out until your base check-in worth is substantial enough (think long-run diminishing returns).

Upgrade as soon as you can, but it starts to get costly after level 5 or 6. Once the upgrade cost got to $7+ million, I bought free upgrade power-ups to maintain my cash for purchasing properties padding my towns total worth.

Finally, keep an eye on trending, number of owners, and popularity - ESPECIALLY popularity: it determines the maximum property value and maximum rent cap.

And if you want to stay on top of the leaderboards for your properties (and other non-owned properties), only keep local properties in your stable. I was in SF last night and bought some high-value properties, but then realized that I couldn't buffer my leaderboard weight for them when I got back into San Jose. I'll probably sell them sometime soon. Oh well, see ya Adidas Concept Store!

All in all, I try for check-ins worth between 45k-60k points, single-ownership of long-lasting, high-popularity businesses, and I collect all 20 of my level 11 property rents with one click.

Once you start rollin', you'll see how ingenious Booyah!'s micro-transaction business is. They made it very accessible and compelling.

My town is worth $2.5 billion, but I feel I could be doing better.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Top Facebook Pages: All-Time vs. Today's Top Gainers

InsideFacebook's PageData tool is useful in understanding trends in Facebook usage, marketing and pop-culture. It is also a powerful way to track a brand's success on Facebook - and if they are engaging in marketing efforts, a way to track the efficacy of that campaign. Compare the top 15 Facebook pages of all-time and of the last 24 hours (measured by total fans and fans added, respectively). Notice that the major difference between the two lists is the mix of brands vs. celebrities: facebook-gainers

All-time Leaderboard: 4 brands (Facebook, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, YouTube); (Mafia Wars & South Park could also be considered)

Today's Top Gainers: 7 brands (Ralph Lauren, Kohl's, Harry Potter, Kellog's Pop-Tarts, Facebook, Herbal Essences, A Perfect Getaway); (Mafia Wars, Sooty & Sweep and Texas Hold'em could also be considered)

Not only are there more brands in today's top 15 Facebook pages, but Ralph Lauren and Kohl's represent the top two positions and 47% of the new fans added. It suggests that:

- users have a natural, organic affinity for celebrities (not shocking - 6 of top 7 pages are celebs) - brands are experimenting on Facebook and are increasingly focused in engaging fans (also not shocking) - marketing plays a significant role in Facebook page growth. Ralph Lauren, Kohl's, Pop Tarts and the Perfect Getaway (an upcoming movie) are likely engaged in on-Facebook advertising campaigns

It will be interesting to revisit data for these Ralph Lauren, Kohl's and Pop-Tarts and see if these bursts in usage equate to long-term, organic user-growth.

Zynga Releases Mafia Wars iPhone App; Printing Money?

Zynga may well be one of the fastest growing companies that you've never heard of. And if you haven't heard of Zynga, you've probably interacted with one of its Facebook, iPhone or web apps. Lots of other developers and companies compete in their space... and many do very well. But Zynga has really mastered the UI. Today, they launched Mafia Wars for the iPhone (already a popular application on Facebook). In and of itself, this isn't news. There are remarkably similar games available... I even remember playing the same game on my TI-83 calculator in high school.

What is noteworthy is how terrific Zynga's artwork, user experience and development are. The game is gorgeous. The UI is exceptional. And this is how Zynga makes a not-so-unique game stand out. zynga mafia wars iphone app

It is also how Zynga makes other games and applications stand out: they get viral behavior and they understand how it translates into gaming applications. Scramble and Poker are not huge successes because the games are so differentiated - they are successful because Zynga taps into your social graph and masterfully layers in incentives.

And that is how Zynga supposedly now makes $50 million on virtual currency (tip @VCMike):

By building terrific games that are weaved into your social graph, Zynga attracts the users. That 'social stickiness' allows Zynga to profit from the users' willingness to upgrade, advance their characters, and differentiate from the masses.