Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Vacation Until 22-9-11

Hi guys & girls,

I will not be posting any stuff the following three weeks on my weblog.

However - feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I will post the news I read on the internet about games, gamification, gamevertising and social gaming.

I am enjoying a long trip to Bali, the Gili islands and Lombok, because I always wanted to go there and I just LOVE Indonesian food...

Should you ever visit The Netherlands, please visit restaurant Djakarta in Utrecht. The place itself doesn't look al that good, but the food is fabulous!

Okay, enough - non gaming talk - check the map if you like to see where I will be going and be sure to be back from 22-9-11...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Speaking at Games for Brands in London 27th of October

Hi Guys (and Ladies of course! ;-),

Great news! - I will be speaking during the 'Games for Brands' seminar in London on the 27th of October. So that will be the date that my book 'A Brand New Playground' will be available in English FOR FREE (as a pdf)...

More information about the event is to be found HERE but basically you can expect what the title says. During the day you can learn how to use games as a tool to reach brand- organizational objectives.

My book (and the case I will be presenting) explains specifically how games can be used to train staff and changing their behavior in a fun way using intrinsic motivation!

Why should you attend?
You should attend if the following information is surprising to you:

I intend share my book on the web for a month so people can download it for free.

If you didn't know already - you can download the free summary HERE (

Send me a DM through Twitter if you intend to visit me in London @BartHufen #GamesForBrands

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top Trends I spotted at GDC Europe & Gamescom 2011

Last week I attended GDC Europe and Gamescom 2011 to spot the emerging trends for the upcoming year of game-development and how brands can utilize games as a marketing tool. These are my findings:

The workshop with Epic's Developing Director was packed! 

1. A new business model: Free games & In game Micro transactions 

As described in my book (and earlier in the book 'Free' by Chris Anderson) the freemium model is a good way to quickly reach a large audience and then find ways to make money of your gathered crowd. The games industry is learning from these options and below I describe some options for your brand. Most of the options are especially interesting for digital content.

1. Provide a FREE tool (app), light version of your product (demo) or medium (website) to build up a large crowd and transform that crowd into a community encouraging them to become active on your platform (create postings, feedback, interact, helping each other, upload content, etc.) maybe even using a gamification layer to encourage people even more and challenging them to level-up and remain active.
2. Create innovative business models, not just selling banners and letting your community members pay for their membership. There are numerous examples of companies making an excellent turnover by selling additional services or in-game (virtual) products. Why not a pay per play model for games, literally paying per level I play. There's so many games I never finished playing because I lost interest or just couldn't push on. Most of FarmVille-like games use a freemium model where the game is free but you can buy interesting goods that help you booking results quicker.
In-game Transactions are key to make money on platforms like Facebook.
3. Promote sharing the game and create multiple discount. It lengthens the success of your game if you add multiplayer and let your crowd promote the content to other people by a 'share'-button (or LIKE!)...

There was quite a row of people waiting to see Battlefield 3

Check a case description about the freemium model here by Flurry.

2. Social, Social, Social Gaming Platforms 

It seems that most game publishers are focussing on building their own platforms. After MSN Games, Spil Games, Zylom, Facebook, Steam (Valve), Electronic Arts and many, many others, it looks like all publishers want to either have their own community of gamers (like Steam and EA) or are trying to plug their content on large community networks with certain specific target group, for instance Vkontakte in Russia or Qzone in China.

3. Controlling movement - movement controls

After I visited the booths of Microsoft (Kinect), PlayStation (Move) and Nintendo (Wii and U-Play) I could only conclude that they all believe that movement games are our new 'living room entertainment' concept. Games vary from sailing, rowing, fitness, running, boxing, cycling and even fishing (if that's a sport to you ;-)! It's a good development considering obesity with kids (especially in USA) and the fact that children are challenged to move actively - even when it's raining.

4. Device Independent Gameplay  

In the past game developers would 'port' existing PC games to other Platforms without regarding the specific context the games would be played in on that specific platform. Luckily these days developers and publishers spend more time redesigning their intellectual property to other platforms which can easily turn into great new gameplay elements and enriched ways of play. For instance - it was quite impressive to see this first person shooter on an iPad - it looks like Unreal Tournament in 2000!

Thanks to Unity, games can look amazing on different platforms (phone, PC, PlayStation etc,). Unity is a stunning 'easily-create-your-own-game' engine for game designers that like programming the easy way.   It's comparable to a programming tool like HTML5 but Unity is compatible with all platforms and is not just web-or browser-based. This tool makes it possible to - for instance - chop wood with your mobile phone on a train trip in a mobile mini-game and utilizing the 'money' you made chopping wood in the train on your PlayStation console as soon as you get home and continue playing that same type of game (World of Warcraft for instance).

5. Cloud Gaming 

Another trend game developers expect is what I call 'Cloud Gaming'. Companies like Onlive and IQU are providing this game content and are serving you content that you do not even have to 'own' or download on your PC, console or Phone. I mentioned this trend in my book already. Consuming digital content will evolve from 'owning' content to being able to 'acces' content. The business models are either subscriptions or an in-game economy based on micro transactions.

6. Games for a Greater Good and Serious Gaming

Although there weren't much companies around during GDC I am still convinced that the interest to use games for serious objectives and public welfare is still rising. In one month I have been approached to speak at an event in New York, London and Moscow, so it must be a 'hot-topic'. One of the few companies I met during GDC was Playdom (Jude Ower). Jude is looking for venture capitalists and game developers that wish to team up and develop game concepts that can contribute to a better world. Feel free to find more information about that on their website: They are based in London (United Kingdom).

7. Intelligent Interaction Design: Dynamic Content! 

Companies that still own a website without interactive or dynamic options really need to wake up (yes yes, mine is under construction)... Dynamic Feedback is the new norm. This means that based on the database that is filled with information about your visitors (thanks to cookies), the database should show different information based on your consumers surf-behavior. It means that when I always immediately click 'Products' when I come to your companies website, after my third visit 'Products' is the landingpage or at least dominant on the landingpage of your website. The same goes for gaming portals. If visitor X always plays puzzle games on your website, the amount of suggestions on the right hand side should show at least 8/10 puzzle games (and maybe two featured games). It's all about showing and sharing relevant information. This enhances the chance that consumers will forward, share, show (or LIKE) it to friends.

8. Gamification

Of course this is a running topic on my weblog and although there were especially programmers on the GDC Gamification is a topic that definitely has potential according to all the game developers I spoke with during my three days in Cologne.

My latest presentation about Gamification is available on Slideshare!

To end with some more pictures of the Gamescom in a short film.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GDC Europe 2011 - a brief update

The first day at GDC (Game Developer Conference) in Koln (Cologne) was impressive. 

I saw 3D games comparable to Unreal Tournament on PC on an iPad 2 taking advantage of all things Unity (an engine for game developers) has to offer. If you want to check out some great games, developed through Unity, check out their website and check out the Transformers 3 game (and the showreel below). 

Unity Spring 2010 Highlight Reel from Unity3D on Vimeo.

A presentation by Wooga once again confirmed that (Social) games as a freemium with in-game transactions (ingame economy) is the new-to-last business model to earn money on games. The company is in place since 2009 and already released a top 10 Facebook game. 95% of their players find their game through the platforms it runs on (Facebook). 
Henric (the presenter) stressed that it's the gameloop (the game mechanics) that determines whether a game is fun or not. The gameloop is preferably based on existing and 'known' processes, like gardening, driving, building a city, etc. and has no more than 4 to 6 steps. For instance: buy a piece of land, grow vegetables, harvest them, make money, buy land, grow (other / new / better) vegetables, harvest them, make (more) money, etc. 

Then Playdom - one of the bigger publishers of casual (and social) games,  showed that to make an internationally profitable game, you need at least an audience of 15 mln people, since on average only 1% is likely to play the game and only 1% of that percentage will buy ingame content regularly, hence making your free-game profitable.

1% of 15 mln = 150.000 people
1% buys a lot of ingame stuff, say €40,- per year = €600.000,-
9% buys some stuff to experiment, say €10,- per year = €141.000,-

Which is a total sum of €741.000, which basically means you can have a development team of up to 7-10 people (an average team for a social game and 1 year production).

They showed some key-facts on Facebook and other Social Media users.

In China, about 200 mln people have subscribed to Qzone, the largest Chinese social network.
There are 111 mln Spanish speaking people on Facebook
Local Russian social networks account for 34 million people.

Some other countries:

France: 33 mln
Germany: 21 mln
Dutch speaking (Netherland, Belgium, Dutch Antilles): 4,6 mln
Italian: 19 mln
Arabic: 16 mln

The main purpose of a social game should be to keep your players happy, don't frustrate them and don't challenge them too much (according to Playdom). They expect to be rewarded for their efforts and actually managing expectations is probably the most important part in developing a social game. Below some more facts about the German game market, as you can see - 23 mln play games and almost 50% are women...

Looking forward to tomorrow when the Gamescom kicks off, it's comparable to the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) for Europe!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

GDC Europe 2011

The upcoming three days I will be smelling a lot of techy programmers I'm afraid at the Game Developer Conference in Koln Germany.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication [Official Music Video]

Game inspired? Hell yeah!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Universal Theme Park in Orlando

Forget privacy, we have your fingerprint connected to your credit card information... we need no more... ;-)
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Whip Will!

I ran into picture I took on my vacation in 2010 in Tampa. Check out this streetname...'Whip poor Will'... it's sad and funny at the same time!

A tipical 'Friday-Fun' picture... one day early...

[and totally off-topic I know]

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Students in USA are messaging 3 hours per day!

I was surprised recently that big telephone companies like Vodafone and KPN (The Netherlands) didn't foresee the fact that apps could gradually make certain functions of their business proposition redundant. To name one example: texting / messaging. Since Whatsapp (do we still remember Budweiser's Wassup) telephone companies are loosing loads and loads of turnover...
And it must have been their biggest chunk of turnover if you take a look at this Infographic from According to this research students spend 3 HOURS (on average) PER DAY sending text messages to each other...!!!

This is incredible, that's even more than watching TV!

I recently received a hand-written note from a guy aged 25... it was illegible and looked like the handwriting of my grandfather AFTER he died... If 82% of all students prefer to use digital tools to learn, why are we still not using games as a training tool on schools I wonder. Are teachers really that terrified that they will lose their jobs? I think teachers will become the admins of the future teaching playground, but that's another subject. For now, go check out this great infographic - and a BIG thanks to Lessie for keeping me posted on interesting shizzle for the peepz!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dragon Collection on Gree played by 8 million people!

You have to watch this video twice I guess (if only to understand the great narrator... in Japanese), but I read a news item last week that Konami, one of the bigger publishers in the world with games like This is Football, ended this fiscal quarter with a good profit thanks to their social game Dragon Collection. Now I had never heard of this game, but I read on Konami's website that - originally - it's a card game (like Heroes of Might and Magic and such). Apparently these card games (like Pokemon) are very popular in Asian countries. So popular that 8 million people in Asia play the digital version of the game (social game if you like)! To me the game looks like a children's card game that you can collect with a bag of chips, but apparently I should still not underestimate the power of playing cards!

Gree is a social gaming site in Japan and Asia.