We got a chance to stop in ay the new office of ngmoco:) recently for a quick rundown on some of their upcoming apps. As you may remember, they made a business switch recently and are moving completely to the free to play model where the games are free to download and play, but have some form of in-app purchases to give you a better experience. Their latest creations all fall into that model and include a spin-off from Touch Pets Dogs, Eliminate, and two from We Rule.
First up is ngmoco:)’s answer to Farmville. Built from the We Rule engine, this game will look familiar to those of you who have played We Rule. But this time around the focus is on farming. Both raising crops (like in We Rule), and raising livestock are the prime methods to earning in-game cash. To keep things a little friendlier though, animals are never sent off to slaughter. Instead, after raising them they are sent to be judged.
Next up, also built on the We Rule engine, We City. While We Farm is fairly similar to We Rule, this one changes things up a little bit. Instead of building a farm/kingdom, you are building a city. Think of this is a very simplified, friendly and social version of SimCity.
In both We City and We Farm, you can visit your friends creations and interact by purchasing services and goods from them, much like in We Rule. It should be noted that ngmoco:) have made the odd decision to have each individual game, even though they are very similar and are targeting a similar audience, have their own unique version of We Rule’s mojo. Players would, I’m sure, greatly appreciate a common in-game bonus currency so that if you excel in one game you can speed up another. But alas, this is not to be.
Touch Pets Cats
Touch Pets Cats is the answer to Touch Pets Dogs for you feline lovers. Similar game, but there are a few small changes in how it’s played. For one, since cats generally stay inside, the whole experience is indoors. You have the option to decorate your living space with earned and purchasable items and furniture.
The Next Version of Eliminate
By far the most interesting title we saw was the next version of Eliminate. Currently without a final title, this version will be set in the current time instead of the future — think US military fighting in the middle east. Much like Eliminate, it’s multiplayer over the Internet and works butter smooth. The game itself reminded me very much of Counterstrike and had some really good action. No images of the game yet, but keep an eye out for full details.
ngmoco’s new games have all been based off of the freemium play model. Whatever your opinions of freemium in other games, there’s denying that for Eliminate, it’s been a huge success; the online FPS has legions of dedicated fans. If you’ve tired of it in recent weeks, however, this might bring you back into the fold: ngmoco has released a new Eliminate app that adds a new and much-asked-for mode to the game. Cooperative play is here!
In the new co-op mode, two players team up to fight off the attacking bots. It includes a bunch of new loot to collect, so you can earn credits to upgrade your player’s armor and weaponry. It’s a lot of fun so far, and as a free update it’s even better. Eliminate fans, go grab the new app!
ngmoco:)’s hotly anticipated titles, Touch Pets: Dogs and Eliminate, have finally made their way past Apple’s approval process. For those who don’t know, Touch Pets is a pet sim that focuses on raising and training “the ultimate puppy” and also includes a wide array of social features. Eliminate, meanwhile, is a multiplayer online first person shooter. Both games will be free (yes, you read that right!) but will feature In-App Purchases. Note that IAP’s won’t be necessary to play the game; you’ll just need them to unlock extras. With Eliminate, for example, you get to play a certain number of games per day before your “energy” runs out; you can play without energy but you won’t be able to earn any in-game credits.
While both apps are approved, don’t get too excited: ngmoco is doing a Canada-only release first, to make sure that “all Eliminate systems are online and all puppies are house broken before unleashing upon the world,” according to their tweet. It’s an interesting strategy that will have non-Canadian fans grumbling, but given that ngmoco is releasing two extremely hyped games with heavy online components at once, it makes sense. Once the games make their USA debut, we’ll post our reviews; for now, you can check out our preview coverage from earlier this month.
Update: Eliminate is now out worldwide.Make sure you grab it! It generally takes a few hours for new apps to show up in the App Store, so don’t worry if you can’t see it yet.
Canadians can get Touch Pets here, though the rest of the world is still waiting.
With the announcement last week that Apple would allow In-App Purchasing (IAP) for free apps, we wondered what will really change in the App Store. Obviously right now this is a theoretical exercise as, so far, very little has changed. We’ve seen a couple apps that were previously paid switch to free, and at least one high profile app released as free with IAP.
We talked to a few users and a few developers to get their take on what this could mean for the future of the iPhone App Store.
This new app type, free but with In-App Purchasing has quickly been nicknamed free+. There are some really great things about it, and some really bad things about it. Let’s break this down into what’s good and what’s bad for developers and consumers.
Good for Developers
There are lots of really good things to like about this decision for developers and they are almost uniformly happy with the decision. We asked Kyu Lee of Gamevil for his thoughts, “In-app purchasing for free apps is a huge step for Apple, and it really shows how much they are willing to adjust to the developers/publishers needs. Apple was first to adopt in-app purchases, and now first to adopt in-app purchases for free games. We strongly believe the next steps would be introducing microtransactions that are lower than 99c or the ability to use an intermediate currency within the game. We believe that Apple should provide as many options available to the developer/publisher as possible as long as it enhances the customer’s experience, and we’re very excited about what the tracks they’ve been following so far.”
For some types of apps it makes the developers job a lot easier and potentially more profitable. Then there’s the added bonus of making piracy much harder with apps that include in-app purchasing.
More Income Options
With in-app purchasing there are many more income possibilities for developers. Not only can they sell expansions to their app from within the app, but they can also sell subscriptions, upgrades, and virtual goods (think MMO apps). Doing in-app purchasing allows for the impulse buy. For example, the recently detailed Eliminate from ngmoco:) will feature a certain amount of time you can play per day while advancing your stats. If you are really getting into the game and you run out of time you are pretty likely to drop a buck and buy more time. Maybe just once, maybe a few times. Depends on how compelling the app is. Think of this as the candy racks at the grocery store checkout. You are standing there looking at it, a certain number of people will decide to buy.
In addition to more options, income opportunity is spread out for a much longer time. The way it is now most apps that make it to the top 100 do so quickly, then fall off quickly. This little spike represents a very high percentage of their sales. Sales after that are usually tied to an upgrade, press, or other such promotion. IAP allows for longer term income opportunities for developers as they can add content to the app and charge for it over a longer period of time. In addition, you can continue to get money from the dedicated users more than just once like most current apps. Continue reading Thoughts on In-App-Purchasing For Free Apps »
Ngmoco will take advantage of Apple’s reversal in decision on allowing DLC in free apps, and they will probably be among the first to do so.
First, In conjunction with Apple’s announcement, Ngmoco announced that they will be making their upcoming FPS Eliminate free. The main draw of Eliminate is the thorough online component, with 4-player death match over Wifi or 3G. In the game, you have a certain amount of “energy.” While you are energized, playing online earns you credits, which improve your online ranking and can be used to buy upgrades and armor. However, your energy runs out after a few online matches, and while you can still play online while de-energized, you won’t earn credits. You can simply wait a certain amount of time (this has not been announced yet, but think somewhere from 1-2 hours), after which your energy will be refilled, or if you’re really cutthroat, you can purchase more energy using DLC. This is the only as yet confirmed use of DLC in the game; upgrades and armor will still be bought exclusively using game credits, though extra maps may be available for purchase.
Overall, this looks to be a brilliant move on ngmoco:)’s part. I would be shocked if the game does not quickly climb the App Store charts and reach #1 on the top free games list. This popularity will ensure a huge online community, and there will likely rarely be a waiting time for a match. The downside, of course, is the stress on ngmoco:)’s servers, but with their infrastructure, I imagine they’ll be able to handle it. Within the online community, there will almost certainly be an ultra-competitive subsection who will frequently purchase more energy, and this is how ngmoco:) plans to make money.
For more information on Eliminate, see our preview. The game was submitted to Apple about a week ago, and this new development will not affect its release.
In addition, ngmoco has just released a free version of the incredible Rolando 2. This free version includes chapter 1 of the saga, and essentially serves as a lite version of the game with the full version built in. After finishing chapter 1, you can purchase additional chapters for $.99, with the exception of the last two chapters, which come bundled together for $1.99. Strangely, the total price of all the DLC is $4.98, making it cheaper than the standalone version of Rolando 2 which retails at $5.99. With Apple’s former restrictions lifted, these “hybrid” lite versions could become commonplace.
We got invited, by ngmoco:) in to their San Francisco offices to take a look at the nearly final versions of Eliminate and Touch Pets: Dogs. While we were there we got to talk to CEO Neil Young a little bit about the Plus+ Network progress, what it takes to host a multiplayer game, and a little bit about what ngmoco:) has in the pipes for the rest of 2009.
Plus+ Network, ngmoco:)’s entry into the now very crowded social gaming networks for the iPhone field has had a rather slow start. Except for signing one high profile third party company, Freeverse, and the ngmoco:) titles, there are only 3 third party games that are part of Plus+. Well, that’s about to change. Neil Young commented that there will be over 50 Plus+ enabled games by end of year. They’ve been getting a great response from developers wanting to integrate with the system or switch from other networks to Plus+.
It’s been a quiet summer for ngmoco:) releases. Except for the amazing release Rolando 2, we haven’t heard much from them. That too will change. They have a total of 6-7 games that will be out by the end of the year. This includes Eliminate and Touch Pets: Dogs and 4-5 others we don’t know about yet. I don’t expect sequels to be part of that though and am hoping for some new and exciting games. Continue reading Upcoming From ngmoco:), Eliminate and Touch Pets: Dogs »
Last week, as most of you know, Rockstar Games announced that it was porting its critically acclaimed GTA: Chinatown Wars to the iPhone. Not only is this great news for fans of the game, though we do already have the superb Gangstar, but it also shows how seriously the iPhone is taken as a gaming platform. Rockstar is not a company to make gratuitous ports for every platform available (I don’t think the Wii will be getting GTA anytime soon), so this upcoming port shows that Rockstar believes in the power of the iPhone. If Rockstar will port GTA for the iPhone, what other big-name developers will follow? The days of the iPhone being a phone that you could play some gimmicky accelerometer games on are over. Sony, I would be afraid.
New ngmoco FPS trailer, now called Eliminate, reveals the use of micro-transactions
Ngmoco has released a new trailer for their upcoming Eliminate, and while the game is looking awesome, most people are fixating on another detail: you will only be able to play so many matches online for credits in one day, and if you want to play for credits again without waiting a day, you have to buy an “energy pack” using real money. So what’s the big deal? Well if you ask me, as long as ngmoco doesn’t abuse this, nothing. Here’s the kicker: if you run out of energy, you can still play online, you just won’t win credits. So the only people who will buy extra energy are the perfectionists who have to show how good they are. For people like me, who just want to play a game to have fun (isn’t that what a game is for), you can play however much you want and still have fun. So really, this is a great idea as long as two things hold true: the game is not originally priced above $6.99 and the amount of energy you get per day is reasonable. What do you guys think? Sound off in our comments below.
C64 Emulator finally approved by Apple
After months of back room deals, Apple rejections, and Apple non-communication, Manomio has finally gotten their superb C64 emulator has been approved! Obviously this won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re one for nostalgia, at $4.99, it’s worth picking up because of the high level of polish and solid controls. The emulator comes with five fully licensed games, but no BASIC emulator as was originally included, though it’s apparently suspiciously easy to enable the BASIC if you’re SSH savvy. Future games will be available via DLC at prices to be determined by the original IP holders. Next up, Manomio, a legal Atari emulator (I wish)!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-09-04 :: Category: Music
This, week, as a first for MMAHQ, we’re holding a contest where you can be the lucky winner of a $15 iTunes gift card! To enter, simply comment on this article with your prediction for what will happen at the 9.9.09 Apple event on Wednesday. What will the new iPod Touch look like? Will any huge games come out (like Madden)? Will Steve Jobs be there? The winner will be the person who has the most accurate or funniest prediction will be deemed the winner (that’s right, this is completely arbitrary)! Hopefully we can get some good participation, and if all goes well, we might have some more contests later on.
Apps of the Week
Modern Combat: Sandstorm
Modern Combat is the most visually impressive title on the iPhone to date, bar none. Models are good, textures are sharp, and everything is fully and accurately 3D. Not only this, but Gameloft actually nailed the controls, a first for an FPS on the iPhone. The gameplay, specifically the AI and level structure leave something to be desired, but Sandstorm remains a great accomplishment nonetheless, and it comes with a solid recommendation at the low price of $6.99.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-02 :: Category: Games
Samurai: Way of the Warrior
Samurai is one of the coolest games I’ve played on the iPhone. It’s a hack-and-slasher with great graphics, perfect controls, and gratuitous blood! Controls involve different combinations of swipes, and the gameplay is actually somewhat strategic – you have to balance small attacks with huge combos, because if you miss a huge combo, you leave yourself very prone to an attack. Execute moves correctly, and you might be lucky enough to see the body of the opponent samurai stop, then fall on the ground in two pieces, with blood squirting across the screen. Samurai comes with both a story mode and an endless or “dojo” mode. My only complaints about this game are that once you figure out the controls, it’s too easy – there’s an uneven difficulty curve, and that it does get repetitive at times. Still, I found myself playing this $2.99 gem much more than Sandstorm. Expect a full review soon, but until then, you really have to see a video to appreciate the awesomeness of this game.