Gaming

Facebook acquires the VR game studio behind one of the Rift’s best titles

Posted by | Facebook, Gaming, M&A, Oculus Rift, Sanzaru Games, TC, Virtual reality | No Comments

Facebook is aiming to build on its VR hardware launches of 2019 with an investment in virtual reality software.

Facebook announced today that it has acquired Bay Area VR studio Sanzaru Games, the developer of “Asgard’s Wrath,” considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the Oculus Rift’s best games. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the studio will continue to operate its offices in the U.S. and Canada with “the vast majority” of employees coming aboard following the acquisition, Facebook says.

The 13-year-old game studio has created a total of four titles for the Oculus Rift, including “Asgard’s Wrath” and “Marvel Powers United VR,” both of which were at least partially funded by Oculus Studios. Sanzaru has also made a number of titles on console and mobile systems, releasing games structured around their own IP alongside licensed titles for properties like Sonic and Spyro.

Following Facebook’s acquisition of Beat Games in November, the Sanzaru Games purchase showcases Facebook’s continued interest in propping up VR game studios and aligning them around their interests while allowing them to operate independently. While Beat Games’ “Beat Saber” was considered a more mass market title, Sanzaru’s “Asgard’s Wrath” represented a play toward courting serious gamers with a lengthier first-person adventure title.

Facebook has already injected billions of dollars into its VR ambitions and, as the company hopes to build out the content ecosystems of hardware it released last year (including the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S), there is little to suggest that their rate of investment will slow in the near future.

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Games already are social networks

Posted by | augmented reality, clash of clans, discord, epic games, Facebook, Gaming, High Fidelity, league of legends, Philip Rosedale, Social, Virtual reality, virtual worlds | No Comments

Video games are only getting more popular.

Roughly 2.5 billion people around the world played games last year, double the number of players in 2013. Gaming is a $149 billion industry, growing 7% year over year, with the U.S. as its largest market. In America, the average gamer is 33 years old and 46% of gamers are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

(This is part one of a seven-part series about virtual worlds.)

Per Quartz reporter Dan Kopf’s summary of U.S. Department of Labor data:

More people now report playing games on a typical day — 11.4% in 2017 compared to 7.8% in 2003 — and, on days they do play games, they spend more time doing so — about 145 minutes in 2017, compared to 125 in 2003.

Young people are the biggest driver of the trend. From 2003 to 2015, 15-24 year olds spent less than 25 minutes playing games on the average day. From 2015 to 2017, those in that age group dedicated almost 40 minutes a day to games.

Mobile games account for a large part of this dramatic growth, but all major game categories are growing. The console gaming market — the oldest segment and most expensive due to hardware cost — expanded more than 7% last year alone.

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A multiverse, not the metaverse

Posted by | augmented reality, epic games, Facebook, fortnite, Gaming, Minecraft, Mojang, Roblox, Social, Virtual reality, virtual worlds | No Comments

Following web forums, web platforms and mobile apps, we are entering a new stage of social media — the multiverse era — where the virtual worlds of games expand to become mainstream hubs for social interaction and entertainment. In a seven-part Extra Crunch series, we will explore why that is the case and which challenges and opportunities are making it happen.

In 10 years, we will have undergone a paradigm shift in social media and human-computer interaction, moving away from 2D apps centered on posting content toward shared feeds and an era where mixed reality (viewed with lightweight headsets) mixes virtual and physical worlds. But we’re not technologically or culturally ready for that future yet. The “metaverse” of science fiction is not arriving imminently.

Instead, the virtual worlds of multiplayer games — still accessed from phones, tablets, PCs and consoles — are our stepping stones during this next phase.

Understanding this gradual transition helps us reconcile the futuristic visions of many in tech with the reality of how most humans will participate in virtual worlds and how social media impacts society. This transition centers on the merging of gaming and social media and leads to a new model of virtual worlds that are directly connected with our physical world, instead of isolated from it.

Multiverse virtual worlds will come to function almost like new countries in our society, countries that exist in cyberspace rather than physical locations but have complex economic and political systems that interact with the physical world.

Throughout these posts, I make a distinction between the “physical,” “virtual,” and “real” worlds. Our physical world defines tangible existence like in-person interactions and geographic location. The virtual world is that of digital technology and cyberspace: websites, social media, games. The real world is defined by the norms of what we accept as normal and meaningful in society. Laws and finance aren’t physical, but they are universally accepted as concrete aspects of life. I’ll argue here that social media apps are virtual worlds we have accepted as real — unified with normal life rather than separate from it — and that multiverse virtual worlds will make the same crossover.

In fact, because they incentivize small group interactions and accomplishment of collaborative tasks rather than promotion of viral posts, multiverse virtual worlds will bring a healthier era for social media’s societal impact.

The popularity of massive multiplayer online (MMO) gaming is exploding at the same time that the technology to access persistent virtual worlds with high-quality graphics from nearly any device is hitting the market. The rise of Epic Games’ Fortnite since 2017 accelerated interest in MMO games from both consumers who don’t consider themselves gamers and from journalists and investors who hadn’t paid much attention to gaming before.

In the decade ahead, people will come to socialize as much in virtual worlds that evolved from games as they will on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Building things with friends within virtual worlds will become common, and major events within the most popular virtual worlds will become pop culture news stories.

Right now, three-quarters of U.S.-based Facebook users interact with the site on a daily basis; Instagram (63%), Snapchat (61%), YouTube (51%) and Twitter (41%) have similarly penetrated the daily lives of Americans. By comparison, the percentage of people who play a game on any given day increased from just 8% in 2003 to 11% in 2016. Within the next few years, that number will multiply as the virtual worlds within games become more fulfilling social, entertainment and commercial platforms.

As I mentioned in my 2020 media predictions article, Facebook is readying itself for this future and VCs are funding numerous startups that are building toward it, like Klang Games, Darewise Entertainment and Singularity 6. Epic Games joins Roblox and Mojang (the company behind Minecraft) as among the best-positioned large gaming companies to seize this opportunity. Startups are already popping up to provide the middleware for virtual economies as they become larger and more complex, and a more intense wave of such startups will arrive over the next few years to provide that infrastructure as a service.

Over the next few years, there will be a trend: new open-world MMO games that emphasize social functionality that engages users, even if they don’t care much about the mission of the game itself. These new products will target casual gamers wanting to enter the world for merely a few minutes at a time since hardcore gamers are already well-served by game publishers.

Some of these more casual, socializing-oriented MMOs will gain widespread popularity, the economy within and around them will soar and the original gaming scenario that provided a focus on what to do will diminish as content created by users becomes the main attraction.

Let’s explore the forces that underpin this transition. Continue reading through the seven articles in this series (which will be linked below as they are published daily over the next six days):

  1. Games already are social networks
  2. Social apps already are lightweight virtual worlds
  3. What virtual worlds in this transition era look like
  4. Why didn’t this already happen?
  5. How virtual worlds could save society
  6. The rise of virtual economies and their merging with our “real” economy
  7. Competitive landscape of the multiverse

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In Fortnite’s new spy-themed season, more is more

Posted by | fortnite, Gaming, TC | No Comments

The new season of Fortnite’s second chapter finally landed last week, shaking up a reimagined map that burst dramatically out of a black hole in the game last year. Over the weekend, we scoped out what’s changed in a game now sprinkled with secret agents, laser beams and all manner of things dipped in gold. Happily, we can report that Epic returns the game to its true colors in season 2, with some innovative ideas that deepen the game for casual players.

The black hole event and subsequent total map makeover were exciting at the time, but as the months ticked by, Epic’s decision to pare down the game’s excesses left the game feeling bare. In season 2, Epic piles a lot of new ideas onto the game’s foundation, and the game feels weirder and more chaotic with a map that’s much more alive as a result. And bananas in suits. Did we mention bananas in suits?

The Island has been taken over by covert operatives – members of Ghost and Shadow. Will you join the fight? pic.twitter.com/dmUiUyxWM2

— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) February 20, 2020

In season 2, Fortnite takes its most committed stab yet at a coherent theme, with spies, secret societies, dapper bananas, bulky henchmen and… a really swole cat for some reason. It’s a fun vibe and well-executed so far. That theme plays out everywhere, from a revamped battle pass menu designed as a spy headquarters to some very dynamic new high-risk/high-reward map hotspots chock full of special new weapons, locked vaults and laser beams.

Even better, the new locations are stocked with NPC versions of the boss-like characters the season introduces us to right off the bat, making for a fun and reasonably challenging way to mix up gameplay when you need a break from the sometimes lonely intensity of battle royale play.

Suit up, it’s time to drop in, secure intel and take back the Island. The Agency is calling, whose side are you on? pic.twitter.com/kHw6LcDSnT

— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) February 20, 2020

The new season keeps the old map mostly intact while adding five main new locations, all heavily guarded, loot-rich fortresses. That means a new point of interest near each corner of the map, and one right on the central island (a spot inevitably destined for something more interesting than a suburban home). The rest of the map doesn’t have many visual changes, but a handful of smaller, old locations scattered around the map have been co-opted by spy organizations and staffed with henchmen, which makes for a chaotic surprise when you come across them in the heat of gameplay. Even Pleasant Park has its own underground spy hub now.

Down the line, the new season will also introduce two competing factions for players to join, Ghost and Shadow. Depending on which faction you choose, players can unlock some pretty cool variants on battle pass skins, including Meowscles, a shirtless, muscle-bound catman with a pec-flexing animation that might be the best thing to ever happen to Fortnite. Well, except for the new teleporting port-a-potties. You’ll find those soon enough.

⚠ Attention Operatives: Your choices will impact each Chapter 2 – Season 2 Battle Pass Agent’s future… permanently.

No matter what side you turn them to – GHOST or SHADOW, their allegiance cannot be reversed. Choose wisely! pic.twitter.com/k88IXZAEjl

— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) February 20, 2020

As far as changes that will affect gameplay, there are many, many unvaulted weapons mixing things up relative to last season’s stripped-down arsenal. Traps are gone, chests no longer shower you with fishing rods (thankfully) and heavy assault rifles and all manner of silenced guns have made a comeback. And if you really want to be treated to the best weapons in the game, you can raid one of the five new spy headquarters to take down bosses, including an explosive-happy rocker named TNTina, a sharply dressed guy calling himself Midas and Meowscles (oh Meowscles!), who hangs out on his own gigantic, laser-guarded yacht.

As you work through the battle pass, you’ll also unlock these boss characters as skins. It’s a fun way to drape some light narrative over a game loved mostly for its incoherent total cartoon chaos rather than a character-centric light and fluffy multiplayer shooter like Overwatch. And because Epic is tasked with the impossible — maintaining momentum on a game with such historic success it basically became a mainstream social network at its peak — carving out a deeper game under Fortnite’s candy-colored shell can’t hurt.

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Microsoft offers a closer look at the next Xbox

Posted by | Gaming, hardware, Microsoft, xbox, xbox series x | No Comments

It’s been a few months since Microsoft announced the impending arrival of the Xbox Series X. The somewhat redundantly named console made cameo during the Game Awards, getting a late 2020 date in the process.

We got at glimpse at the big, boxy design and peek into a handful of features, including the new wireless controllers and backward game compatibility. It didn’t, however, really get into the nitty gritty of what’s going to set the next-gen console apart. Thankfully, MS’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer is back with some honest to goodness specs.

“Xbox Series X is our fastest, most powerful console ever, designed for a console generation that has you at its center,” Spencer writes. “This means a high-fidelity gaming experience enclosed in a quiet and bold design, with the ability to discover thousands of games across four generations, all with more playing and less waiting.”

The headline feature here is, naturally, a new processor. Built on top of AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture, Xbox says chip is able to deliver four times the processing power of the Xbox One. The silicon offers 12 teraflops of GPU performance — that’s double the Xbox One X and 8x the original Xbox One. Other notable additions include Variable Rate Shading for improved frame rates and resolution and DirectX Raytracing for better lighting.

Quick Resume is basically what it sounds like, letting players pick up on multiple games, exactly where they left off. Dynamic Latency Input aims to bring more responsive feed back from controllers, by reducing latency. 120fps video will be supported by the console, along with HDMI 2.1, which automatically switches to the lowest latency mode to reduce game play lag.

As noted above, backward compatibility is central, now that Microsoft has a few generations of consoles under its belt. Game Pass is increasingly important in the company’s play moving forward, as it ramps up focus on cloud gaming.

More information is promised in “coming months.” Once again, Microsoft will have a stiff competition on its hands, with the PlayStation 5 currently slated for “holiday 2020.” 

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Twitch to top 40 million US viewers next year, forecast says

Posted by | Gamers, Gaming, Media, streaming, Twitch | No Comments

Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming service for gamers, is poised to surpass 40 million monthly active viewers in the U.S. as of next year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer out on Thursday. By 2023, it will reach 47 million viewers. Currently, the analyst firm estimates Twitch has 37.5 million viewers in the U.S. who tune in to watch at least once per month.

Officially, Twitch reports it has more than 3 million active monthly creators and over 15 million average daily streamers, per its own website. But it focuses on metrics like minutes watched and concurrent viewers to paint a picture of its size and growth.

While Twitch continues to gain new viewers in the U.S., the new forecast indicates Twitch’s growth is slowing due to increased competition from YouTube, Microsoft’s Mixer and Facebook Gaming. This backs up findings from a separate report released last month, which found that Twitch’s loss of top streaming talent began to impact hours watched and streamed on its site in Q4 2019.

While none of the defections knocked out Twitch from its No. 1 position, it is starting to slow down its growth across a number of key metrics.

Last year, for example, Twitch lost top streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek to Mixer, plus Jack “CouRage” Dunlop to YouTube, and Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios to Facebook Gaming. Corinna Kopf, a member of David Dobrik’s “Vlog Squad,” also left Twitch for Facebook at the very end of December.

The defections continued in Q1 2020, with Ronda Rousey moving exclusively to Facebook Gaming earlier this month.

Despite these losses, eMarketer says Twitch will still see double-digit growth in the U.S. this year, up 14.3% from 2019. However, that’s down from 23.5% growth last year. And in the following years, growth will continue to slow, dropping to 6.3% by 2023.

The report stresses that Twitch needs to find ways to retain its gaming talent going forward, instead of losing them to better deals offered by rivals. It will also likely continue to invest in its expansion beyond gaming, as non-gaming traffic drove significant viewership in 2019. Twitch’s “Just Chatting” category, for instance, was watched more than any game on the site in December and was No. 2 in January, according to StreamElements.

“[Twitch’s] platform is designed for live streaming video and streamer/viewer interaction; these features are certainly intriguing to content creators outside of gaming,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Peter Vahle.

This is the first time the analyst firm has estimated the number of people watching Twitch on a regular basis — a decision it likely made because of how large Twitch has become.

“Twitch,” said Vahle, “…is now too big for the internet giants to ignore. The big platforms, owned by the likes of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, are competing to sign big deals with popular streamers and esports leagues. Twitch will have to find ways to encourage streamers — and viewers and advertisers — to stay on its platform now that other attractive options exist,” he added.

Another possible way for Twitch to boost viewership — and one not mentioned in eMarketer’s report — is to lean on its ties to parent company Amazon.

“Last year was actually our biggest year ever in terms of growth of Twitch on Fire TV,” Amazon’s Fire TV head Marc Whitten told TechCrunch in January, when talking about Fire TV’s 2020 plans.

Amazon is now thinking about how to better integrate Twitch and Fire TV — especially since Fire TV supports the integration of live content right on its homepage, and Twitch is a live-streaming service. With Fire TV’s now over 40 million monthly users, Amazon could easily send more viewers to Twitch if it just turned the dials a little.

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Voodoo Games thrives by upending conventional product design

Posted by | Apps, Column, Gaming, Startups, Voodoo Games | No Comments
Will Robbins
Contributor

Will Robbins is an early-stage investor at Contrary.
More posts by this contributor

Voodoo Games is one of the most interesting startups alive today. In mid-2018, it had 150 million MAUs and raised $200 million from Goldman Sachs, yet I’ve never heard anyone mention the company. That might be normal for an obscure enterprise SaaS play, but Voodoo is consumer-facing through and through.

Quantitative success aside, Voodoo upends much of the conventional thinking about product design and gaming. If it can do it, how can similar strategies apply to other products?

But first, some background: What is Voodoo Games?

Voodoo is best described as a product conglomerate. Take a look at its App Store page. It has dozens of generic-looking apps. The basic playbook is:

  • Quickly build a relatively low-quality, single-purpose game.
  • Make sure one mechanic is really fun. It doesn’t matter if users churn 20 minutes after downloading it.

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The drunken HQ Trivia finale before it shut down was insane

Posted by | Apps, Entertainment, Exit, Gaming, HQ Trivia, Humor, Matt Richards, Mobile, shut down, Social, Startups, TC, WTF | No Comments

“Not gonna lie. This f*cking sucks. This is the last HQ ever!” yelled host Matt Richards . And it just got crazier from there.The farewell game of HQ Trivia before it shut down last night was a beautiful disaster. The hosts cursed, sprayed champagne, threatened to defecate on the homes of trolls in the chat window, and begged for new jobs. Imagine Jeopardy but Trebek is hyped-up and blacked-out.

Yesterday HQ Trivia ran out of money, laid off its 25 employees, and shut down. It was in talks to be acquired, but the buyer pulled out last minute and investors weren’t willing to pour any money into the sagging game show. It had paid out $6 million in prizes from its $15 million-plus in venture capital since launching in late 2017.

But HQ was in steady decline since February 2018 when it peaked at over 2.3 million concurrent players to just tens of thousands recently. The games grew repetitive, prize money was split between too many winners, co-founder Colin Kroll passed away, original host and quiz daddy Scott Rogowsky was let go, the startup’s staff failed in an attempt to mutiny and oust the CEO, and layoffs ensued. You can read how it all went down here.

But rather than wither away, the momentary cultural phenemenon went out with a bang. “Should HQ trivia shut down? No? Yes? Or f*ck no!” Richards cackled.

You can watch the final show here, and we’ve laid out some of Richards’ and co-host Anna Roisman’s choicest quotes from HQ’s last game:

  • “If you just got here, this is HQ Trivia. It’s a live mobile gameshow. We’re gonna read about 34 questions and then you’re gonna win about 2 cents and you’re gonna fucking loooooove it” -Roisman
  • “This $5 prize is coming out of my own pocket. We ran out of money. We just kept giving it away. We gave it all to the players, to you, you loyal HQties” -Richards
  • “Take this time now to buy some extra lives. You never know when you’re going to need them. I wish we had an extra life for the company. I’m sorry. I f*cking can’t. I’m gonna cry. My dogs eat $200 worth of food a day. My dogs are gonna starve” -Richards
  • “Why are we shutting down? I don’t know. Ask our investors. What am I going to do with my fish tank? I think our investors ran out of money” -Richards
  • “Who likes healthy snacks! That’s why the investors stopped giving us money, because there wasn’t any f*cking snacks in this b*tch. We were snackless. Who the fuck can work in a place without snacks!” -Richards
  • “I met a couple who told me HQ is part of their foreplay” -Richards
  • “Who’s going to miss the HQ chat? I’m going to miss all those people telling me I don’t have eyebrows or to do the Carlton” -Richards
  • “Maybe we should close every night. These are the nicest f*cking comments I’ve ever seen. Wow, you’re finally telling me I look hot. I tried for a year and a half -Roisman
  • [Reading comments] “‘Won’t miss you at all, good riddance’” -Roisman. “Who said that? Let’s find that mothef*cker and sh*t on his porch” -Richards
  • “Hire everyone! All the people who don’t have jobs they f*cking rock!” -Richards
  • [While doing a headstand] “Someone hire me! I’m f*cking talented” -Roisman
  • “We should have unionized a long time ago” -Richards
  • [To his girlfriend] “Hello baby! I don’t got a job, you still love me?” -Richards
  • “We bought this giant bottle of champagne for when we hit 3 million players” -Richards (HQ never got there)
  • [Shakening up the champagne and opening it to a disappointing trickle] “It wasn’t as big as I thought it was gonna be” -Richards.That’s what she said. It was anti-climactic” -Roisman. “Much like this episode” -Richards. “Much like this app” -Roisman
  • “They gave me like two double shots of tequila” -Richards, on why he was drunk

Then things really went off the rails at 41 minutes in, cued up here:

  • [Upon a bunch of people getting a question wrong] “Y’all fucking fucked up!  You are dumb! I’m kidding, you’re not dumb. You fucked up. It happens” -Richards
  • [Reading the final question together] “What does Subway call it’s employees? Ham hands, sandwich artists, or beef sculptors?”
  • “520 people are splitting $5. Send me your Venmo requests and I’ll send you your fraction of a penny” -Richards

Farewell, HQ Trivia, you glorious beast.

 

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HQ Trivia shuts down after acquisition falls through

Posted by | Apps, DEADPOOL, Entertainment, Exit, founder fund, Fundings & Exits, Gaming, HQ Trivia, Mobile, Rus Yusupov, Social, Startups, TC, trivia | No Comments

HQ Trivia is dead. Today the company laid off its full staff of 25 and will cease operation of its trivia, sports and word guessing games, a source close to the company confirmed.

HQ Trivia had a deal in the works to be acquired, but the buyer pulled out yesterday and investors aren’t willing to fund it any longer, CEO and co-founder Rus Yusupov said in a statement attained by CNN Business’ Kerry Flynn:

“We received an offer from an established business to acquire HQ and continue building our vision, had definitive agreements and legal docs, and a projected closing date of tomorrow, and for reasons we are still investigating, they suddenly changed their position and despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement,” Yusupov writes. “Unfortunately, our lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution. All employees and contractors will be terminated as of today.”

With HQ we showed the world the future of TV. We didn’t get to where we hoped but we did stretch the world’s imagination for what’s possible on our smartphones. Thanks to everyone who helped build this and thanks for playing.

— Rus (@rus) February 14, 2020

Launched in October 2017, TechCrunch wrote the first coverage of the 12-question live video trivia game started by two of the former Vine founders. Users could win real money by answering all the questions and not being eliminated in multiple daily games. HQ Trivia had raised more than $15 million, including a Series A led by Founders Fund. At one point it had more than 2.3 million concurrent players.

hq trivia app 1

But eventually the novelty began to wear off. Cheaters came in, splitting the prize money down to just a few dollars or cents per winner. Copycats emerged internationally. Engineering issues led users to get kicked out of the game.

Then tragedy struck. Co-founder Colin Kroll passed away. That exacerbated internal problems at HQ Trivia. Product development was slow, leading users to grow tired of the game. New game types and viral features materialized too late.

A failed internal mutiny saw staffers prepare to petition the board to remove Yusupov from the CEO position. When he caught wind of the plot, organizers of the revolt were fired. Morale sunk. By July 2019, downloads were just 8% of their previous year’s, and 20% of the staff was laid off. HQ managed about 15 million all-time installs, peaking at 2 million in February 2018, while last month it had just 67,000, according to Sensor Tower.

The demise of HQ Trivia demonstrates the fickle nature of the gaming industry, and the startup scene as a whole. Momentary traction is no guarantee of future success. Products must continually evolve and adapt to their audience to stay relevant. And executives must forge ahead while communicating clearly with their teams, even amongst uncertainty, or find their companies withered by the rapid passing of time.

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GameSnacks, from Google’s Area 120, brings fast, casual online games to developing markets

Posted by | Apps, Area 120, games, Gaming, Google, Mobile, mobile games | No Comments

A new project called GameSnacks is launching today from Google’s in-house incubator, Area 120, with the goal of bringing fast-loading, casual online games to users in developing markets. Billions of people are coming online through mobile devices. But they’re often on low memory devices with expensive data plans and struggle with unreliable network connections. That makes web gaming inaccessible to millions, as the games aren’t optimized for these sorts of constraints.

Today, over half of mobile website visitors leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, but on low memory devices and 2G or 3G networks, a typical web game will load much more slowly — even triple or quadruple that load time, or worse.

The idea with GameSnacks is to speed up load time and performance of web games by reducing the size of the initially-loaded HTML page, compressing additional assets like scripts, images, and sounds, then waiting to load them until necessary.

GameSnacks says this allows its games to load in a few seconds even on network connections as slow as 500 Kbps.

For instance, A GameSnacks title called Tower is ready to play on a 1 GB RAM device over 3G within just a few seconds. A typical web game on that same device took as long as 12 seconds, the company claims.

In addition, GameSnacks’ games are simple, casual games that only last a few minutes. They’re meant to fill those idle moments you have when waiting line, waiting at the bus stop, or waiting for a doctor’s appointment to start, for example. The games are also designed to have straightforward rules so they can be learned without instructions.

While mobile may be a primary platform, GameSnacks’ games are also accessible on any web-capable device, including desktop computers with a keyboard and mouse. On mobile, both iOS and Android are supported.

At launch, GameSnacks is partnering with a leading technology platform in Southeast Asia, Gojek, which is bringing the new games to their ecosystem through the GoGames service. Initially, this partnership is focused on delivering games to users in Indonesia before expanding elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Currently, GameSnacks is working with developers including Famobi, Inlogic Games, Black Moon Design, Geek Games, and Enclave Games. Other HTML5 game developers who think their title may make sense in the GameSnacks catalog are encouraged to reach out.

GameSnacks’ business model will ultimately involve other partnerships that allow other developers to embed GameSnacks games into their own apps, even customized to feel native to that app’s experience.

Founded by Ani Mohan and Neel Rao, GameSnacks is a team of six working within Area 120 at Google, which is home to a variety of experimental ideas, including those in social networking, video, advertising, education, transit, business and more.

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