Posts Tagged plus+
Being an app reviewer, I think that I play more games than the average person. I personally don’t have much of a genre preference, although I do enjoy games that let me upgrade my character(s) or towers, and I have no sort of fan-affiliation with any specific game companies. Deep down in my heart, I also really don’t understand what the big deal is with these “social game centers.”
A friend made a comment to me about an article that I wrote about OpenFeint going multiplatform, and it rung a bell in my head. He said, “Why are people making such a big fuss about GameCenter?” and then looked at me like I should have some sort of profound answer. The answer was a garbled message about the unification of gaming and blah blah blah (I’m letting out my inner Steve Ballmer). Truth be told, I really don’t care about GameCenter that much at all. In fact, I think the whole social gaming platform is pretty ridiculous because developers really aren’t grasping what social gaming is all about.
The only company, in my opinion, that has really gotten it right is Com2Us with Homerun Battle 3D. If you read my articles and reviews, I talk about this game like it’s the next coming of Wonderbread, and it really is that good (and nutritious). I’m not the only one who thinks so either. According to Mobile Entertainment, “players have notched up more than 60 million online match-ups, totalling 480 million minutes spent battering baseballs out of the game’s virtual stadium,” all without the help of a giant social gaming platform backing. With that game, I genuinely care about the competition and get disappointed when my bitter rivals aren’t online. The joy of the system though is that you don’t have to go into another bland page to get some simple high score information, it’s all integrated into the game.
On a customer level, I really don’t think that there is any advantage to using a service like OpenFeint. I don’t mean to knock the service, because it does provide an easy to use area to display global high scores, but it doesn’t, in my opinion, add anything to the game experience. I’ve never invited anyone to a game or used the included IM service, and I really don’t think that the overall score I have makes me want to play OpenFeint games any more. To me, there’s just a bunch of fluff surrounding a game that doesn’t really nurture any sort of competitive spirit. It’s just a nice place for my high score to be displayed.
The only real advantage that I see, for an average gamer, to a unified GameCenter is that my user name will be the same on all the high score lists, and this really only matters if I get into the top 25 of a specific game. I’m not going to go search through a bunch of lists to find my friends in the top 5,000, I just want to see how high of a score I need to get to enter the top 25.
The key to social gaming success doesn’t lie in unifying the platform or stamping your logo on a bunch of games, it’s partnering with developers to make the online experience unique. Nothing about GameCenter will stop me from playing ngmoco games that are on the Plus+ Network because my game purchases are all about the games.
If GameCenter really aspires to be anything near what X-Box Live is, it needs to be so much more that it seems to be shaping up into. I need to able to use my phone as an X-Box headset to talk trash to the people I’m playing against. I need to, within the games, see which of my friends are playing ANY game network wide, not just that specific game. Not only that, but I need to be able to send someone a challenge to another for one game, and while they are playing another game, get my challenge request in some kind of instant notification. I’m not going to check my e-mail for game invites, I want to be able to do it all on the fly. I need all the games need to be connected, all the time.
Until then, “social gaming” on the iPhone just seems like blah, blah, blah, blah (my inner Ballmer has me sweating with rage).
Ryan posted earlier last week about Apple’s growing pains. Yes, Apple has approved over 100,000 apps, and we’re long since past the 2 billion download milestone, which is great. But alongside the explosive growth in the App Store has come explosive growth in another, not entirely unexpected direction: piracy.
I’m not going to pretend that piracy is a new or even an unusual phenomenon. Grabbing the latest album or movie off of the internet takes about as much effort as wiggling your pinky finger. But App Store piracy is a bit unique. First of all, we’re hearing a lot more indie developers speaking out about it. And secondly, those developers are extremely restricted in what preventative measures they can take, thanks in no small part to Apple.
The real power is in the numbers. Recently, Fishlabs reported that they experienced first-day piracy rates of 95% for Rally Master Pro. This is far from unusual; Smells Like Donkey claimed to experience rates as high as 90% in the week following the release of their newest game, Tap Fu, and ngmoco regularly experiences first-week rates of 50-90%. These rates decrease over time as pirates lose interests and more legitimate customers download the game, but indie developers are hit the hardest, with many enduring lasting piracy rates around 50%. Worst of all, hotly anticipated apps are cracked not within hours, but within moments of their release.
Needless to say, many are frustrated. Smells Like Donkey wrote that they felt “totally screwed over” after seeing just how rampant piracy was. And who can blame them? There aren’t many viable ways to protect applications.
Developers can attempt to check for pirated apps, but they often feel compelled to tread lightly. There’s nothing worse for PR than blocking a legitimate customer after a piracy check generates a “false positive.” (I.e., a genuine buyer gets mistaken for a pirate.) In the App Store, word of mouth is often what makes or breaks a game. Some insert pop-up notifications when a pirated app is detected, asking the user to buy a legal copy of the application, while others revert their games to a “lite” mode; most are loathe to permanently disable the apps.
Random musings of the App Store.
Apple now allows in-app purchases in free apps
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard that Apple is now allowing in-app purchases in free apps. Yes, this creates many possibilities including the extinction of lite versions and new app store charts, but I think that none of these possibilities will come to fruition, for one simple reason: DLC simply won’t be widely implemented. One reason, and the reason I think developers have been loathe to implement DLC so far, is the public perception of DLC. The average app consumer is wary – perhaps rightfully so – of DLC, and automatically assumes DLC is there to rip off the customer. I think developers will even be aware of this when making free apps with DLC, as the fear of being nickeled and dimed could lead poor public perception, starting with bad iTunes reviews, which will be open to anyone who clicks the “Get App” button. In addition, I think consumers simply purchase less through in-app purchasing. Once you already have an app, that app can become boring quickly in this ADD app store, so instead of purchasing more content for that app, you are likely to impulsively buy a completely different and new one.
Rock Band released
Last night, EA mobile’s Rock Band was released onto the App Store. Sure, it’s got that EA polish, but is it really worth 10 times more than Tap Tap Revenge 3, its $.99 competitor. Early indication may be no. While Rock Band features four different instruments, they are all similarly tap-based. The gameplay is fairly unchallenging but fun, and the background graphics are very repetitive and there are no special backgrounds for songs as in TTR3. In addition, the game comes with an anemic set list of only 20 songs, compared to over 100 free songs for TTR3. DLC packs for Rock Band are scarce so far and come packaged as two songs for $.99, the same as TTR3. I think the Rock Band game itself is better than TTR3, just not ten times better.
Released: 2009-10-19 :: Category: Games
Free ngmoco:) games!
Largely as a promotion for their Plus+ network, ngmoco:) has made three of their older games free. These are the full versions of the games, now including the excellend Plus+, and they’re all worth checking out:
Released: 2009-10-17 :: Category: Games
Released: 2009-10-07 :: Category: Games
Released: 2009-10-01 :: Category: Games
This week’s upcoming app that looks freakin’ sweet:
There are a few good turn based strategy games on the iPhone, but the Battle for Wesnoth could just blow them all away. Here are a few features:
Over 200 unit types in six major factions, all with distinctive abilities, weapons and spells
Experienced units gain powerful new abilities as they advance.
Bring your battle-hardened troops with you as you fight through campaigns
Hundreds of campaign scenarios available, easily download user-made content
Day/night cycles, fog of war, racial traits
The Battle for Wesnoth has not been submitted, but you can download a free PC/Mac/Linux demo here.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse:
Ngmoco:) has recently been tweeting about, and advertising in their games, Epic Pet Wars, another dumb code-sharing text-based MMO. I thought you had high standards ngmoco:)…
App of the Week
Last week, I disappointedly reviewed Cocoto Kart Online, which simply wasn’t up to snuff. Happily, Gameloft’s Shrek Kart has provided a great karting experience. While the controls could still use some additional tuning, they aren’t nearly as awful as those found in Cocoto. Though there is no online multiplayer, the single player mode has enough content. The graphics are unbelievably crisp, the track design is good, and the Shrek license is actually used pretty well. At $4.99, it’s the best Mario Kart-esque game on the App Store.
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 »
Random musings of the app store
This week’s only news story also has the sign of the apocalypse and the apps of the week built in – handy, eh? Over a 24 hour period, 453 new games were released! What happened Apple, did someone finally wake up? This is a great disservice to developers, as it’s exceedingly hard for an app to get noticed when so many other good games are released on the same day. Sure, developers can set release dates, but if they do, their app is placed on the latest releases section in iTunes according to approval date not publication date, therefore burying it beneath the first page and limiting valuable exposure. Please fix this, Apple! Anyway, enough ranting, here are some of the most notable releases this week. We’ll try to have reviews for as many as we can in due time, but until then, here’s a quick rundown:
Hybrid: Eternal Whisper
Gamevil’s action-RPG follow-up to Zenonia certainly has great aesthetics and a nice online component,
but for me so far, the story has been too intrusive and the gameplay mediocre. At $5.99, you may want to wait for our review. Upon playing more, the gameplay has proven more fun and the story’s role is minimized. Recommended!
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
Zach Gage’s first iPhone game is a very stylish Tetris variant with OpenFeint integration. Instead of blocks falling from from the top, the fall into the middle from both the left and the right, where you have to manipulate them using multi-touch controls. Match four or more of the same color to clear blocks. The game starts out slow with only black and white, but quickly becomes challenging with the addition of more colors and faster scrolling. From my time with the game, I can say it’s one of the more fun puzzle games on the App Store.
This beautiful flight sim had our editor Chris in a frenzy before its release. From initial impressions, it seems the game delivers on the hype, but if you don’t want to shell out the $2.99 now, Chris will have a review up very soon.
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
Aves contains some truly magnificent animations and entrancing binaural audio, but with its simplistic gameplay, it plays more like a tech demo. Still, if you want to see some really cool technology, it’s worth the $.99 price of admission, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Ghost LLC’s future projects.
Above and Beyond Air Combat
Young developer Josh Rosen’s followup to SciFly is a totally different beast. It’s still an arcade plane flying game, but it shines with OpenFeint integration, a huge level of customization, open-world gameplay, and shiny graphics. In any normal week, this would easily earn the app of the week award.
Robocalypse – Mobile Mayhem
Robocalypse is a humorous and strong entry into the RTS genre, which is relatively weak on the App Store. Featuring a lengthy campaign and full online multiplayer, Robocalypse is a safe bet for RTS fans.
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
Alley Gator is Glu’s entry into the quick $.99 games category with accelerometer-based gameplay.
Released: 2009-09-19 :: Category: Games :: Family
From the guys who made Sparta comes a port of an addictive online flash game.
Against the Fire!
Meridian’s followup to their smash hit Alive 4 Ever is a similar survival shooter but with theme of a fireman putting out water monsters.
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
Dungeon Hunter (pulled from the App Store)
Otherwise known as Gameloft’s Diablo clone, Dungeon Hunter was said to be very impressive, but was unfortunately pulled due to a bug in the game. The game should be available for download again soon.
Castle Warriors is another nice addition to the RTS genre on the App Store. The gameplay is similar to Galcon and the graphics are very nice overall.
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
Super Shock Football
After App Store giants Gameloft and EA turned out full football sims, you would expect Chillingo, publisher extraordinaire to follow up with one of their own, right? Instead, developer Steamroller studios has produced a light-hearted throw back to vintage vibrating football games that is ultimately more suited to the iPhone than either Madden or NFL 2010.
This Chillingo “shmup” is very stylish but adds little to the genre gameplay-wise.
Scarecrow is Ezone’s take on Doodle Jump and also the latest 3rd party game to incorporate ngmoco’s plus+ network.
Apps of the Week
iBlast Moki is the best puzzle game on the iPhone, period. This physics-based puzzle game contains challenging gameplay. The goal is to, using bombs and eventually other elements like balloons, get all of the mokis to the exit of the level. It sounds simple, but some of the levels are head-scratchingly devious. There is almost unlimited replay value with over 70 levels, Plus+ integration, and a full-featured level editor/sharer.
By the same token, Meteor Blitz is the best top-down space shooter for the iPhone, surpassing even the famed Isotope. The dual-stick control scheme is incredibly fast and responsive, the graphics are simply stunning, and the gameplay is livened up by the inclusion of RPG elements and many different weapons. The game also features superlative pause and auto-save functions.
Released: 2009-09-15 :: Category: Games
Wow, so many great games, and I’m sure I’m missing a few. Of course, I won’t expect any good game releases for the next month couple with reports of month-long approval times.
While Apple and AT&T’s lawyers are busy dealing with multiple lawsuits for failing to deliver MMS, we’ve been rounding up the latest App Store news.
Man, that’s a lot of beer money. Ever wonder how much you’ve spent on apps? There’s some new software for Mac that reads all of your downloaded apps and ads up how much they would cost. To be truly accurate you need to edit the prices of some apps, but it’s pretty close. I hate to tell you how much I’ve spent so far. Here’s a hint — I could easily feed an NFL team for a week.
In other news, man seeks attention. Someone trying to make a point decides to try and get publicity for that point. Not a new story, it happens all the time. But this guy decided he was so upset with Apple that he was going to shoot his iPhone with a 9MM and then set it on fire. That should prove a point. Watch the video for a nice case of misguided anger.
Luxor getting the Plus+ treatment Luxor, one of the best known marble shooter games is getting Plus+ integration and will be released for the iPhone soon. One of the first specific games to be announced with the social gaming platform developed by ngmoco:) integrated.
What will be keeping me busy this weekend. Worms just released an update. I’m going to try that out and hope that it fixes the major problems we had with the game. I’m testing out GPS apps. Gomi still has me hooked. Plus a couple other pre-release games I’m looking into.
What are you playing this weekend? Let us know in the comments. Have a great weekend everyone!
Random musings of the app store.
Minigore Released into the WildMinigore, a dual-stick survival shooter, has finally been released onto the App Store after weeks of intense hype and anticipation. So what was all the hype about? Honestly, I don’t know. Compared with its survival shooter kin, iDracula (App Info), Minigore is as shallow as a puddle. It has one map, two weapons, four enemy types, and two health points. It definitely has a unique art style going for it, but beyond that, not too much. There seems to be some sort of story, and while it is never even touched on, there will apparently be Pocket God-style episodic updates. I’m sorry, but I don’t like this approach unless it’s done with a complete game. Minigore is clearly not a complete game, and I’m tired of getting incomplete games with promises of updates that aren’t always fulfilled. There seems to be a bit of a logjam cycle going on with apps nowadays – developers won’t add to their apps unless they do well in the App Store, but consumers don’t want to pay for an incomplete app. But hey, it worked for Pocket God (App Info); it went from being a boring, mindless, stupid time waster to a… boring, mindless, stupid time waster. But seriously, Minigore is not a bad game, just an average one that without a bevy of substantial updates is undeserving of the immense hype that preceding it.
Released: 2009-07-30 :: Category: Games
Freeverse joins ngmoco’s Plus+ network
As I touched on last week, there is an emerging social game network competition on the App Store. And, as I loosely predicted (thank you, thank you), ngmoco’s Plus+ network has taken the lead. Freeverse, who may not be my favorite developer but is certainly among the most popular and has a large volume of games, has announced that they will be implementing the Plus+ network in their upcoming action space trader Warpgate, their incredibly popular Flick Fishing (App Info), and presumably more upcoming games. Having two of the premiere App Store developers certainly bolsters Plus+, and could induce a chain reaction of developers braking for Plus+. At this point, OpenFeint may be implemented in more games, but that catalog is very scattered, not all of those games are exactly quality controlled, and some apps were clearly not made for OpenFeint (have you ever tried to go into a Pocket God chat room?). I’m definitely putting my money on Plus+ for now.
From the developer of Trace – Gomi submitted
Bovine Dragon has finally submitted their new game, Gomi, to the App Store. Gomi appears to be a platforming game in which you, as a Gomi, replace the pollution in the world with trees and other natural things. The artwork is certainly unique, and the gameplay looks good, but perhaps the most impressive thing about Gomi is the staggering amount of content. Gomi will have over 140 stages, each lasting several minutes, spread across 8 worlds, with a boss battle for each world that unlocks a new ability. There are also 8 unique mini-games, hundreds of achievements, hundreds of playable Gomis, a complete soundtrack of 17 songs, and online scoreboards for everything. Wow, talk about a complete game! The developer estimates that playing through each stage once, without trying to unlock any achievements
or playing any mini-games, will take over 12 hours. The price for a game of this size? Reportedly just $1.99 upon release. This looks to be an incredible value and if the production values and unique gameplay of Trace (App Info) were any indication, Gomi should be an incredible game.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse
Offender Locator (App Info), an app that locates nearby sex offenders, is currently sitting at #4 overall in the App Store. First of all, are people really that paranoid? And second, if you do find an offender in your area, what are you going to do? Move away? Complain to your neighborhood police patrol? Set up barricades? No, you are just going to be more worried than you were before.
App of the week
So normally, I would list more than one app of the week, but this week, there is basically only one app deserving of the honor, only one game I have been playing all week:
Space Invaders Infinity GeneI have to admit, after seeing SIIG appear on the App Store, I was skeptical. After all, how fun can a remake of Space Invaders be? It might be fun, but for $4.99? I figured they just slapped some neon backgrounds on the old tried and true gameplay. Well, after reading the 148apps review, I decided to buy the game, and, happily, I was utterly, completely, and unequivocally wrong. TAITO brings a shining example of how to remake retro games for the App Store. The graphics are fantastic, the action is frantic and heart-pounding, the music is techno bliss, and the controls are perfect. The evolution concept and implementation is fantastic, with unlockables aplenty. And on top of all of this, there is the ridiculously awesome ability to generate completely original levels based on your iPod music. I really need some good songs for this mode, so if anyone has any suggestions, post away! This isn’t just a great App Store shooter, this is a great shooter period. Probably in my top three iPhone games ever, and at $4.99, if you’ve ever enjoyed a shooter, you owe it to yourself to buy this game.
Released: 2009-07-28 :: Category: Games
Wow, they actually let me write a second Monday Morning App HQ. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the column, and feel free to post feedback.
ngmoco:) announced yesterday it’s plus+ network — a community gaming platform similar in function to the XBox Live network or the Playstation Network, but for the iPhone.
The plus+ network lets you create an identity that you will eventually be able to use across all ngmoco:) games and games from other developers that integrate with the system. This identity lets you track your achievements, compare to friends, send and receive challenges, etc. Much like XBL or PSN, you are given a score across all games that is derived from achievements in those games.
The challenges system takes advantage of the push notification services of the new iPhone OS 3.0 which sends the notice of a new challenge directly to the phone.
Here’s a quick look at what it looks like in the just updated Star Defense, version 1.2 for iPhone OS 3.0.
When you first launch the new Star Defense, you’ll see a new logo in the upper right, the plus+ logo. Click the logo and you will be prompted to login or join the network. If you click join it will walk you through the usual steps to create an account — gamer tag, password, email, etc.
From there you can add friends, check your achievements in the games registered, read news on all of the games, etc.
More functionality will come once you add a few friends and start sending challenges back and forth.
So far, the plus+ network looks promising. I can’t wait to see more games added. Feel free to add me as a friend, let’s see how this thing works. I’m jeff148apps on the plus+ network.