How to build awesome leaderboards for your mobile game (III)

PART III: RELEVANCY

In the previous installments in these series, we’ve discussed how leaderboards are key tools to increase the stickiness of your game and its viral growth.  So now, let’s discuss how they can help impress your gamers and make your game more relevant.

Traditionally, old arcade machines just had a local highscore. On one of the first examples of ‘storing player data’, Asteroids, allowed to enter your initials after a game to show that you had smashed any previously existing records.

                                          Geosophic_asteroids_game               Geosophic_asteroids_leaderboard

That same model was replicated in every console game. Highscores and rankings were all about showing who was the best of your house, or the Gameboy that you shared with your friends at school. Eventually, the internet appeared in scene and games went from one extreme to the other. Leaderboards became global, and there was definitely some strong appeal in that. If you got a rush by knowing that you’re the best at home, imagine the kind of rush you’d get of knowing that you are the absolute champion of the world. And that worked well enough… Until, at some point, developers started to see that there was a missing gap there. Yeah, of course, hardcore gamers and devoted fans were willing to spend hours fighting for those top 10 positions, but what about casual gamer number 900,000? Was there any appeal in being buried in an endless list of names?

Farmville Leaderboard

        Farmville Leaderboard

When the so called ‘Social Gaming’ appeared into scene with the advent of Facebook, a new and obvious way of making the player feel relevant again came into life too:

Why not compete just with your friends? After all, you might not have a shot at competing with that Korean child prodigy in ‘Who has the biggest brain?’, but it still felt good to beat your buddies every once in a while.

Plus that need itself, promoted, to some extent, virality.

Of course, we all now know that it escalated into an arms race of spamming your friends with Farmville invitations, etc. But a key concept emerged there: The keystone of appeal in a leaderboard is relevancy. Be it because it makes you feel in the top of the world, the best… even if it just among your friends.


That’s why we’re huge believers in what we call the concept of the #LocalHero.
When you give your players the chance to compete at the city level, the stakes, automatically go higher. It’s definitely more achievable for casual players too, and as we all know that’s definitely a crucial segment when you’re in mobile. Specially, because A LOT of casual gamers are thirty-somethings with some significant spending power.

Foursquare Leaderboard

      Foursquare Leaderboard

Take for example Foursquare.  Even though it’s not a gaming company,  they are probably the best example of the success of this technique. Their mayorship mechanic was a major drive to keep people coming back to their app on their early days.

And if this works with a non-gaming audience, at such a hyper local level as being the ‘boss’ of a venue, imagine how better it gets with something as relevant as your home-town and with people more used to gaming mechanics.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just go ahead, and test it with your own players. One thing that Geosophic really prides itself in, is that we believe that value demonstrated is the best sales strategy. That’s the reason why you always get to try, completely free, any of our plans for 30 days, AFTER the leaderboard has gone into production. That should be a quick way of running some experiments and see how the virality, stickiness and relevancy of your game just rockets. Let us know how they go!

How to build awesome leaderboards for your mobile game (II)

PART II: BETTER CONTENT TO SHARE

Lately, there’s been some buzz in the specialized press about game developers ditching mobile because, (among other reasons) they face ‘discoverability issues’. Which is a fancy way of saying: What good is developing a great game if nobody ever finds it? (Mostly because it ends up buried among zillions of others in the charts).

There seem to be two key solutions to tackle this obstacle. One is using cross-promotion (either by working with a publisher who has several games or through an open network such as Chartboost).

But there is also a tool that, no matter how big or small you are, you can always use: Social networks like Facebook or Twitter. You don’t need anyone but your own players to drive up the viral growth of your game. And by viral, we mean, of course, getting your players to share your game with their friends in social networks.
Geosophic_leaderboard with social features


Basically, there are three triggers for people to share your game:

1) Enthusiasm:  They really, really like it. So much they want all their friends to try it. By far, the best scenario, but sadly, a limited one. Still you need to enable this.

2) Rewards: Somehow, you reward the players for posting in their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Either you give them more virtual currency, energy, or well, you know the drill… It’s a bit like ‘buying their love’ but, hey it can totally work, and in some cases it’s completely justified.  

3) Pride: In our humble opinion the second best in this list. Enthusiasm is a great trigger but very infrequent. Bragging off about an achievement, ranking or victory is something much easier to accomplish.

Geosophic_leaderboard with social features_02

A good leaderboard can tie in beautifully and seamlessly in here. Like we discussed in our previous installment, not only it creates that universally accessible competitive experience, but also it enables players to boast about their successes, becoming a virality engine of its own.

A good leaderboard can allow your gamers to:

1) Show off that they are the TOP 10 player of their region, city or the world.

2) Boast that they’ve achieved certain status (i.e. Think of Foursquare here: Mayor of Starbucks!).

3) Tease their friends (i.e. ‘I just surpassed you in the Angry Gamers ranking!’).

So, next time you’re wondering how can your help your game to rise to fame on its own, make sure you’ve added a leaderboard with some nice social features on it!

How to build awesome leaderboards for your mobile game (I)

Part I: Why do you need a leaderboard?

Leaderboards are in almost every gaming platform out there. 90% of mobile games have them. They’re pretty much ubiquitous in mobile games these days. So, why are they so popular? Well, you could say they’re pretty much they are the salt and pepper of mobile game development.
Of course, your game is, and always will be, the big star of the show. The main course. The big, delightful meal that will bring the gamers to your table. Nothing will ever change that.

Leaderboard appeals to all kind of gamers

Leaderboards are there to help you ‘spice’ things up. They add those key notes of competitive flavour that gamers of all sizes, colours and styles around the world love. Why? Because competitiveness is part of the human nature. And particularly, an essential part of gaming. Competition is another form of mastery. And mastery, the feeling of dominating a challenge or a task it’s the ultimate reward. The big reason why we enjoy games. Why we want to keep playing just another level before going to bed.

And think about it, if you enjoy being good at something, knowing you’re actually better than others at it it’s an added value. An extra layer of sweet joy to add on top of the accomplishment cake.

Leaderboards come up then as the simplest, fastest and most accessible way of making one player compete against others.

Geosophic customized leaderboard 01
In PCs and consoles, of course, competitiveness takes another shape. Fast, powerful and reliable connections allow for the hectic multiplayer madness of games like League of Legends or Starfcraft. But what do you do when your players maybe don’t have access to those super-fast connections that allow seamless synchronous gaming?

You provide them with an easy, intuitive way of comparing their scores to other people. And since the main reason of the success of mobile games is their casual audience you want something that both, is easily understandable by everyone, from kids to grandpas and fits most of your game mechanics.

So once we’ve established why leaderboards are useful we’ll talk a little bit about how you create a top-notch one that actually impacts the behaviour of your gamers and increases their retention, lifetime value, and ultimately the fun they’re having in your game.

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Vote for Geosophic Leaderboard!

In Geosophic we pride ourselves in listening to the growing community of developers using our platform. So, when our beloved Andrew Hill from Mesmer Mobile (and makers of the scary goodie that’s Zombonic), came to us asking for help to create a game about the Australian election with a voting leaderboard, we thought that:

A) The guy was crazy (in a very cool way :)).

B) It was awesome that mobile gaming was becoming such a big part of our lives.

And we made it. We built a voting leaderboard Andrew used to collect almost 100,000 votes in what may have been be the biggest poll ever held in the country.

The final result was Abbott Vs. Rudd (iOS and Android), a game where the Australian citizens could express their disagreement with the candidates by throwing shoes, balls and even sandwiches to them while they debate (*). The game was a success and made some noise in a few australian media. And it featured a shiny and new voting leaderboard we just made just for Andy, based on his specifications.

         Customised voting leaderboard

So, now you know it, we’re a bit like the A-Team. If you’re crazy enough to work with us, we will build you a tank, or a customized location-based feature or leaderboard with the spare parts we can get from the hardware store.  
Luckily for you, we’re easy to find ^_^.

*No candidates were harmed during the making of the game.

Gamescom: How to make your mobile game a global hit

Gamescom 2013 - Photo by Gamescom

                               Gamescom 2013 – Photo by Gamescom

Yeah. Gamescom. You all know it.

That time of the year in which we descend like the Zerg swarm upon beautiful Cologne. Hordes of cosplayers, gamers and geeks take the streets and every billboard in the city is showing the latest Bethesda or Rockstar titles.

For a few days, we really live in an alternative reality in which gaming gets the recognition it deserves and we’re in the front of the stage. During Gamescom, being a game developer is like being a film director or a rock musician. Everyone looks at you with a mixture of respect, admiration and awe.

Gamescom 2013 - Photo by Geosophic

                               Gamescom 2013 – Photo by Geosophic

Because you’re creating magic. Because you’re creating wow moments for players all over the world.
Or are you? Surprisingly enough in this era of global communications, we’ve seen in Gamescom that the main reason for game developers to attend the event is to meet potential publishers that will help them to get to other countries. Specifically, is fascinating seeing all the smart Asian developers showing their shining goods to European publishers, and all the European gaming virtuosos looking for partners that open the Asian doors.  

The value of a good publisher is, indeed, significant. Besides funding for promotion and development they can help with localizing both the content and the game mechanics.

In Geosophic, as fans of all things location-based we can’t help but wonder, how exactly different game mechanics work in different parts of the world?

Limiting the amount of time you can play on a daily basis is a system that apparently works great with the über-competitive Korean players. They are so desperate to beat their friends that they are happy to pay for that extra time. Funny how a few leaderboards can change the monetization dynamic of your game. But would such a thing work in Europe?

That’s of course, one of the things a good publisher can help with. Pointing out what mechanics fit better in your desired market.

But that’s only part of the journey. Then you have to actually build the stuff.

That’s where we’d love to help. In Geosophic we’re adding on new features every week to please different kinds of gamers all around the world. Not only that, we’re also giving you those location-based metrics for some reason. So you see which things are working and which ones not.

Geosophic metrics dashboard

                       Geosophic metrics dashboard

We’re sure you’ll still want to come to Gamescom, but hopefully it’ll all be just for the parties and the rockstar-dom ;-).

Pablo Valcarcel - CEO of Geosophic.png

La búsqueda del héroe local. TLP2k13 HackFest & Oddy Tournament.

Ser un héroe local es uno de los mayores alicientes para el jugador que usa Geosophic. Con las tablas de puntuaciones geolocalizadas ser el mejor jugador de Luarca cobra importancia, y, para los jugadores más competitivos, es sólo un escalón más en la carrera por ser el mejor jugador de Asturias, España e incluso del mundo.

Este verano hemos querido hacer más real el rol del héroe local, así que hemos vuelto a nuestro lugar de origen, a las Islas Canarias, para patrocinar y colaborar con uno de los eventos tecnológicos de más relevancia, no sólo a nivel local, sino también nacional e incluso internacional.

La Tenerife Lan Party (TLP) es el mayor evento tecnológico y de videojuegos de Canarias, y uno de los mayores de España. Allí fue donde hace dos años presentamos Feudalsquare, el videojuego que encendió la chispa de lo que hoy es Geosophic. Para nosotros fue una excelente oportunidad de darnos a conocer y queremos devolver parte de eso ayudando a otras empresas innovadoras locales y al propio evento a crecer. ¿Cuál es la mejor forma de hacerlo? Utilizando nuestra tecnología para descubrir y coronar a los héroes locales.

Héroes del talento: Tenerife HackFest

2013-07-18 17.45.03Un hackathon, un hackfest. Tres días frenéticos en los que convertir esa loca idea, para la que nunca has tenido tiempo de implementar, en una demo jugable. En Geosophic co-organizamos el evento y entregamos el premio al mejor videojuego de entre los equipos participantes. Fue una competición muy reñida ya que los videojuegos desarrollados tenían una calidad excelente.

Tras una difícil deliberación decidimos otorgar el premio principal a PickNik, de PlayMedusa, un delicioso juego de mesa para tablets de espíritu clásico para cuatro jugadores que recuerda tanto al Tragabolas como al Pikmin. Los felices ganadores se fueron a casa con una consola Ouya y diversos servicios Premium de Geosophic.

Quedamos tan impresionados por el resto de proyectos que decidimos entregar dos premios más, consultoría y unos meses de servicios premium a los siguientes dos mejores juegos: Gravity Test y Spheria.

201307 TLP ian Livinstong playing

El momento cumbre del concurso fue la visita de Sir Ian Livingstone, co-fundador de Games Workshop y CEO de Eidos Interactive. Sir Ian pudo probar todos los videojuegos en desarrollo y dio valiosos consejos a unos participantes más que agradecidos.

Si quieres descubrir cómo funciona la magia del héroe local en tu juego no tienes más que registrarte o enviarnos unas líneas por tu medio favorito (correo, twitter (@geosophers), facebook).

Próximamente publicaremos la segunda parte de este post, donde os contaremos algo más sobre el torneo que organizamos junto a PlayMedusa y MediaMarkt.

Geosophic patrocina la Tenerife Lan Party (TLP2k13)

El equipo de Geosophic ha decidido patrocinar y apoyar la edición de 2013 de la TLP que se celebra del 16 al 21 de julio, con el objetivo de compartir sus conocimientos y experiencias con los profesionales del sector de las nuevas tecnologías y los videojuegos de toda España que asistirán al evento.

¿Qué es la TLP2k13?

TLP Tenerife es un festival dedicado a las nuevas tecnologías, los videojuegos y a la cultura alternativa. Desde sus inicios en 2006 como Tenerife Lan Party el festival ha aumentado cada año la calidad y variedad de su oferta, reuniendo a profesionales y aficionados bajo un mismo techo. El evento de este año ha registrado a mil setecientos participantes, lo que lo convierte en unos de los eventos de ocio electrónico más importantes de España.

La TLP engloba 4 áreas distintas: la Lan Party, que este año cuenta  con veinte gigas de conectividad garantizados, una cifra sin precedentes en España; E-Sports, dedicada a los deportes electrónicos; Summer-Com, centrada en el mundo del manga, comic, cine, cultura japonesa y, finalmente, nuestra favorita, las jornadas TLP Innova, orientadas a materias como la emprendeduría y la innovación, la creatividad digital, el desarrollo de aplicaciones.

Una de las ponencias más interesantes de este año será la de Juan Verde, asesor de economía internacional y sostenibilidad de Barack Obama. Aunque también destaca la presencia de Ian Livingstone, el creador de Tom Raider entre otros juegos y José Cabrera, vicepresidente de Operaciones de Sun Microsystems para Europa, Oriente Medio y África.

¿Por qué está involucrado Geosophic?

El equipo de Geosophic ha decidido este año aportar su granito de arena y contribuir al desarrollo del conocimiento en Canarias. Además, creemos que las Islas Canarias son el lugar perfecto para probar algunas de las novedades que ofrecemos y descubrir nuevos talentos y sinergias en el ecosistema canario. En resumen, que nos gusta apostar por los héroes locales.

¿Qué aportamos dentro de la TLP2k1?

Patrocinamos el TLP Hackfest

¿Tienes una idea para hacer una aplicación móvil y te gustaría ponerla en marcha? Pues aprovecha el primer hackathon organizado por la TLP y participa en la categoría de videojuegos o turismo. Si eres uno de los ganadores dentro de la categoría de videojuegos, podrás conseguir los siguientes premios que ofrecemos:

  • Videoconsola OUYA

  • 3 meses de servicio premium de Geosophic.

  • 3 sesiones de consultoría para preparar y lanzar el juego internacionalmente.

  • Camisetas “Local Hero”.

Organizamos el torneo Oddy Smog’s Misadventure TLP2k13

Entre los días 17 al 21 de julio, y gracias a la colaboración de PlayMedusa y el patrocinio de Mediamarkt 3 de mayo, organizamos el primer torneo Oddy Smog’s Misadventure.

Participar es muy sencillo: Solo tienes que descargarte el juego desde Google Play o App Store y jugar en los alrededores del recinto ferial de Tenerife o de Mediamarkt 3 de mayo. Al finalizar cada partida, las puntuaciones obtenidas se subirán a un ranking de puntuaciones especial, creado utilizando la plataforma de servicios de geolocalización de Geosophic  y habilitado específicamente para esta ocasión.

El domingo anunciaremos los ganadores del torneo, que obtendrán los siguientes premios:

  • 1er premio: Tarjeta regalo de 50€ en MediaMarkt.

  • 2º premio: Tarjeta regalo de 30€ en MediaMarkt.

  • 3er premio: Tarjeta regalo de 20€ en MediaMarkt.

Puedes consultar las bases completas del torneo en esta página.

Impartimos una charla en TLP Innova

Nuestro CTO Tanausú Tanausú impartirá la charla “Emprendimiento desde las trincheras”, en la que contará un poco del día a día de Geosophic, compartirá lecciones aprendidas y errores cometidos y desvelará algunos de los trucos aplicados gracias a los cuales hemos conseguido llegar a más de un millón de jugadores en los últimos 7 meses.

Y mucho más…

Parte del equipo de Geosophic estará presente a lo largo de todas las jornadas, tuiteando a través de @geosophers, publicando cosas en nuestra página de Facebook, entregando los premios del Hackfest, animando a los participantes en el torneo o simplemente conociendo a otros participantes y charlando sobre videojuegos móviles y geolocalización. Si quieres conocernos, escríbenos, mándanos un tuit, un whatsapp o un silbo gomero, y únete a nuestra comunidad de #localheroes.

Introducing this month champion: Periodic leaderboard

Being a local champion has become a great driver for players of games using Geosophic location leaderboards. Remember what Penny would think about this? But sometimes it is just not fair to keep the top rank forever, even more when the highest score is ages old.

Just imagine the scene next sunday at Wimbledon:

- We are terribly sorry Mr. Murray but Mr. Sampras is still champion here. We just can’t change ranks every year.

At Geosophic we are aware of that (we heard it from you, fellow game developers) and we have just released the solution: Periodic leaderboards!

This new type of leaderboards works just as the regular ones, but besides lifetime scores they also include daily, weekly and monthly rankings, which can be customised any time, any where, using our dashboard.

And you know the best part of this? You don’t need to update the SDK if your game is already released. Just browse to your dashboard and change the leaderboard type from “simple” to “periodic”, select which frequencies you do want to have (daily, weekly and/or monthly) and it just works. We automatically refresh each leaderboard content for you.

We think this new feature will work amazingly in gaming tournaments, game jams, hackatons and other competitive events and we are planning to do some testings in collaboration with some of the developers using Geosophic. But this is another story… for another blog post.

What do you think?

New IDE in the block: Android Studio

Unlike previous years, Google I/O 2013 seemed to pCaptura de pantalla 2013-06-28 a la(s) 20.21.50ut a lot of focus on better  enabling Android developers. Highlights included improvements to Google Play, the new Game Services, the optimized location API… Today we are going to talk about one of the new Android’s crown jewels: Android Studio.

Android Studio is the new Google app development kit based on Jetbrains’ IntelliJ Idea. In particular is an IntelliJ with a brand new Android-focused plugin. This fact worries me as an Eclipse user. Is it possible to export my Eclipse projects to Android Studio? The answer is yes. Google has defined a migration process for Eclipse users. You just need to update your ADT plugin to the 22.0 (or higher) version.

Ok, first barrier crossed. Let’s take a look to what Android Studio offers.

Android Studio offers a deep set of analytical tools that will help you fill out your code and analyze it before shipping. The Android API, for instance, is now marked up with more meta information about which routines could send back a null pointer. Android Studio will use this to try to highlight potential bugs if you forget to catch these exceptions. That’s cool!

Another contribution of the new IDE, and the most important one in my opinion, is the new set of tools for designing your Android layouts. Android Studio lets you pop up your layouts in six devices of various sizes. You can tweak the layout and see how it will be displayed in a Nexus phone or tablet. That’s amazing! I can test my apps to fit a large number of different screens easily with just a quick view.

Captura de pantalla 2013-06-28 a la(s) 20.35.01

Wow, now you get my attention. Let’s see how easy is to create a new app from scratch.

The first approach to the IDE is not quite easy for a guy that comes from Eclipse’s world. Nothing extremely difficult but you need to squeeze Google’s search a little bit. Also, Android Studio hides some bugs, something quite common in any early software version. In my case, I had a problem with my library dependencies and I had to make a workaround to solve it. Not a good thing when you are deciding whether to move to this IDE.

About the performance of Android Studio, is good enough in my opinion. Android Studio starting time is faster that Eclipse’s (not so hard to achieve :)). Occasionally, it may take a little of extra time, but is not quite painful. The reason is that each new project has to download some Gradle packages from Internet and that process can be slow depending on your Internet connection.

Project’s compilation and execution times are more or less the same as Eclipse (at least with a small project).

In my opinion, Eclipse has a respectable competitor talking about performance. Android Studio has a lot more room for improvement and Eclipse it’s a little bit stucked in this field. Let’s see how the more stable versions of Android Studio behave.

Finally I got my test working project done using the Geosophic’s library. All works fine. Great! Check our Getting started guide for Android to know how to include Geosophic in your Android Studio projects.

In conclusion, Android Studio features looks great. Maybe the IDE is still a little bit immature but it will be a great tool if Google keeps working on it. So say hello to the new guy in the town. Another tool to put in the list. Android Studio, Eclipse, Xcode, ….. Will we have a development tool that covers all the mobile platforms? Maybe some day… Fingers crossed!

Yeray Callero

Yeray Callero

Why Location Based Leaderboards are great for you game? Ask Penny!


Source CBS

Think of Penny in 
The Big Bang Theory.
(pause…) Ah yes, Penny! ;)

In contrast to the rest of the group, Penny is not well-educated, savvy in a specific technical field and surely not a hardcore gamer. However she has great social skills, common sense, very knowledgeable about pop culture and likes to play games with the guys.

Hence she isn’t going to be engaged by playing against the boys or ranked worldwide where she is buried amongst millions of gamers. And definitely will not be able to find commonality within her group.

But give her the chance to compete within The Cheese Cake Factory where she works, and she’ll keep pushing those buttons until she becomes the local queen. And who knows, she might even teach Sheldon and Leonard a lesson.

Traditional game platforms (such as 
Xbox Live
PSNetwork,
or OpenFeint in mobile games) primarily cater hardcore gamers. Thus, the competitive features found in traditional platform services (rankings, achievements) only satisfy hardcore gamers like Sheldon and Leonard thriving to be on top within their own community.

With increasing growth of mobile and casual games, we’ve entered a paradox where mid-core and casual gamers are reaching higher spending power, but find themselves lost and unengaged in these traditional networks.

And studies show, leaderboards and ranking tables are a proven method to increase competition in all kinds of games, and thus, user engagement.

Geosophic’s Location based leaderboards can increase engagement for gamers like Penny!

Location based leaderboards include rankings that show the best players not only worldwide, but within the current country, region, city and even neighborhood.

beerpong_pasadena

Thus, working professionals, housewives, executives and Pennys all over the world can gain sense of achievement without needing to spend hours on those games.

Do you want the Pennys of the world return and engaged in your game?

Well, now you know the secret. Make them feel relevant. Add some Location-Based Leaderboards and turn them into local heroes and heroines.