Mobile, social and local (MoLoSo) are the big consumer mega-trends that are going on in technology. Lots of start ups are creating great products in these areas. The big players in the trend are Foursquare, Groupon, Instagram and more.
Not So Much in Games
In the online game space we do not see much in the way of MoSoLo platforms. Most of the work done in this area is on a per game basis with reliance on the individual app stores to provide platforms. There are exceptions. OpenFeint is a platform that allows mobile game developers to socialize their games. Apple’s Game Center was supposed to help as well. Unfortunately neither has quite caught on.
Mobile Games are Different
I think the reason for this is a fundamental difference in the mobile games space. Mobile games are played in quick, disconnected moments and do not have the time spent per session that drives sharing. For example, if you do two, or three flings in Angry Birds that take 30 seconds while you are waiting for a train, you aren’t likely to feel that sense of accomplishment if you had been struggling in a game for several minutes or hours. Additionally, with short sessions and limited screen real estate prompting the player to do something other than play will quickly sour them from playing your game.
So what should we do?
1. Provide quick and tangible feedback.
Just playing the game first time should be an event that can be shared! If most apps are barely used more than once, the second play should be an event that is celebrated.
2. Give me something for playing.
Perhaps a post-game note for playing will help? Sending an email or a text message could be an interesting way to remind players to play again. I think some connection between the mobile and the web experience would be interesting. After all, email isn’t dead as far as I know.
3. Connect to the outside world.
Using location provide tangible rewards attached to game play. For example, you are playing Words with Friends and win a game while you were playing in the bar waiting for a friend. What if the bar, provided a free shot, or beer to you for winning? Using location, plugging into games that people are playing we give tangible local rewards.
There is room for companies to use local incentives to provide mobile games that hook, that will entice players to share their game experience. Just think of that moment when a game gives you a tangible gift, that you can redeem at that moment and how much you would be likely to tell a friend.