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Flappy Bird and Threes are Addictive Viral Hits for the Same Reasons

Posted by Carter Dotson on February 24th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: THREE OUT OF THREE :: Read Review »

After Flappy Bird’s surprise success and stunning departure, it seems like a million developers want to make the next Flappy Bird; that next smash viral hit. But too many have taken it literally by making their own Flappy-style games. To make a fun viral hit, it requires many factors to come together perfectly – and not necessarily flapping. Threes is that next Flappy Bird because it nails many of those same factors that make it an effective and successful game.

While Threes comes from Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend, developers far more established than Flappy Bird’s Dong Nguyen was, their game still succeeded in large part in spite of traditional ways of being successful. Threes didn’t have a big marketing campaign, and had a non-prominent feature by Apple. Despite this, the game has peaked in the paid games list at number one on iPhone and number two on iPad, having been sticky in the top five for the past two and a half weeks since its launch. It lost its top rank temporarily on iPhone with the release of Card Wars – Adventure Time, but regained it a few days later. Point is, it’s done enormously well despite it not having much in its favor marketing-wise.

Now, whether or not one considers Flappy Bird to be a ‘good’ game, it was a major hit because it was effective at what it did, and Threes is effective in much the same ways.

Both games are very hard to do exceptionally well at. Flappy Bird has punishing physics and little margin for error. Threes is a much more strategic game: there are a lot of systems in place with the cards all moving simultaneously that require a lot of practice – and a lot of patience – in order to master how they work, just like Flappy Bird’s physics.

Yet, despite the challenge these games present, they’re still exceptionally easy to play. Flappy Bird just requires one tap, and makes it easy to restart. Threes just requires swipes, and its addition-based rules are simple enough to glean once learned.

It’s that classic combination of “easy to learn, difficult to master” that makes them tick. As well, there’s just enough chaos involved in the design to make players feel like they have a shot. All it takes is a good card draw in Threes, or a set of pipes that’s manageable in Flappy Bird, and it’s one step closer to a high score. It’s that mix of “out of control” plus “I know I should be doing better” that makes both games so addictively fun.

But plenty of games can get that mix right. What makes them popular? Part of it is the personality: Flappy Bird‘s used a charming semi-flightless bird protagonist and art styles like the obstacle pipes that resembled retro gaming that were endearing in a specific way. Threes’ characters with their voices forge an emotional connection to the player, and it makes them more than just score objects. As well, it’s an accomplishment to unlock higher card values and new characters.

Also, scoring highly in each game feels like a milestone. Flappy Bird‘s scores are a rather literal representation of progress. Threes’ scores are effectively a bit fudged due to their four-or-five-digit nature, but they still represent a clear indicator of progress. Someone gets a higher score because they created more valuable cards. They did better, there was no fudging why they did better. All it takes is to look at the final board of a player to see how well they did and why they did better. This makes it so that players know just what they need to do in general to get better scores. This makes them very shareable.

And the ease of sharing in each game was a key factor in its virality too. Flappy Bird had a tweet button that was frequently used to share scores before it was removed. Still, it offers easy access to Game Center leaderboards, where friends’ scores can be seen. Threes not only tweets out scores, but it also tweets out the image that sums up the score, what the maximum card was, and the final board. It succinctly shows just what happened. And each high score and each tweet is a call to arms – it temps those with the game to try to beat it. And then they share their successes. And all this talk inevitably snags in more people to play, and it just takes off from there because the games are so effective at getting their hooks into the players.

It’s that mix of effectiveness and emotional connection that has made each game become so popular on their own scales. So while Threes might not involve flapping, it is inextricably linked to Flappy Bird regardless.

Extra Innings Mobile Instructor Launched

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on August 8th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Extra Innings, the national chain of indoor baseball and softball training facilities, launched a new app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Called Extra Innings Mobile Instructor, it allows users to record and upload video--assumably of sports performances--and then provide a commentary using a "white board" technique. The videos an then be sent to the trainers at Extra Innings for professional analysis, with a 48 hour turnaround time. These instructors include many ex Major and Minor League ball players, so the feedback could prove invaluable.

Video submissions and subsequent analysis will cost from $14.99 for three submissions to $74.99 for up to 18 video submissions. The application here to coaches and parents seems obvious, but softball and baseball players could up their game on their own as well, using this app.

“This is groundbreaking within the industry,” said Extra Innings’ founder Rob Nash. “Whether you’re a parent with little knowledge of baseball looking to give your child a leg up or an elite player who is having a bad day during a tournament, our instructors can help improve any player’s game. Additionally, if players are already receiving personal instruction at an Extra Innings facility, these videos will make in-person instruction sessions more effective.”

Available now in the App Store, Extra Innings may be the groundbreaking app many kids and Minor League hopefuls have been waiting for.

Slate Gains A Complete App Overhaul

Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Slate is a great website to read, offering analysis and commentary on all sorts of issues from politics, news and modern culture. It's an entertaining site indeed and one I try to check in with every now and then. It seems that doing this has been made even simpler courtesy of the latest update of its free app.

The app has had a completely redesigned layout that showcases what's new across the magazine at a glance. Everything has been made much simpler to browse throughout. There's now the ability to view Slate's collection of photo slideshows and access to the relaunched news blog, The Slatest, that promises regular story updates throughout the day. It's also now possible to listen to Slate's podcasts including the Political Gabfest, Culture Gabfest and Hang Up and Listen.

Extra content is provided through the daily videos that can also be watched through the app including the Trending News Channel.

The updated Slate app is an ideal way of keeping up to date with the website's happenings throughout the day with a great new interface. It's out now and it's a free download.

Evaluate Life With Life Stats

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 22nd, 2011

There's a bizarre sense of fun in keeping track of statistics. This differs from person to person but there are a great many people whose brains just work better when dealing with facts and figures. An app like Life Stats could be just what these people need.

It's a new app that enables users to see at a glance just how they spend their life. It calculates how much time and what percentage of a person's life has been spent participating in various activities from sleeping to sitting to showering. The app can then organize a top 10 of most popular activities amongst their friends and post the results on their Facebook wall.

It's an intriguing looking app that could be great fun. Underneath that frivolous exterior, Life Stats could also be a great way of reassessing one's life. Feel like too much time is spent on Facebook or watching TV? Use the app to work out how you can adjust things to better suit one's life.

Life Stats is a neat idea all round and it's available now as an universal app and for the price of a few seconds time to download it.

Bracketcast NCAA 2009

By Perrin Stewart on March 16th, 2009
Our rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar :: BELOW AVERAGE
Bracketcast brings Accuscore to your hand just in time for the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. Given its limited functionality, however, is it worth laying down even $0.99 for the software? Read on to find out!
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