Big Brother Africa

Big Brother Africa is one of the larger “own productions” in the DStv product suite. It has a Facebook fan base of 650,000 people who are extremely committed about the show. Our brief was to add some interactivity through gaming to the show.

What we did was create a suite of Big Brother themed games (Bubble Popper, spot the difference, crossword, find word and quiz). We also created bespoke avatars and accessories that you could theme for the Big Brother experience.

The coolest part was the competition that we constructed around it; we had a tiered competition; the more points that were scored on each of the themed games the more beer and fast food that went into the house for the Saturday party. Players also got an opportunity to win cool Samsung prizes.

the results;
time on site increased by 40%
new players +20%
return visits +17%

milion pound drop

I’ve been investigating the overlap between tv and games at the moment (more on the reasons behind that in the future). Nickolodeon and the BBC are doing some pretty interesting things. Mostly not to be monetised, but more as a supplementary service to their tv campaigns. For doctor who on the bbc they created four episodic games that correlated to the tv program. These were played over 2.4 million times.

This is cool, but to get an authentic second screen experience . I like the example of the million pound drop. The million pound drop is a new tv series from Channel 4. Essentially what it is is “who wants to be a millionaire” upside down; you start with a million pounds in cash, and get asked 8 questions, each time you have to guess and put a cash amount on a number that you think is the right answer. You can hedge your bets by putting it on numerous numbers, but every question that has a wrong answer has a trapdoor below it that your cash disappears in. this makes it more exciting for people watching because losing money is more tragic (and more entertaining) than winning it.

The gaming side is great because it taps into human behaviour around quiz shows. I always shout the answers at the tv, and this allows the same thing. You play along at the same time as the tv show, so you get to answer in real time. The presenter shares this during the show (i.e. They’d say you answered that as well as 50% of the playalong audience). If you at home keep more money than the person on tv you can play through till the end of questions (or until you lose). They’ve also partner with bet365 to offer betting games, which you can play to win money. This seems to really work with a maximum of 8.6% of the TV audience playing along.

my new baby

the games site i have been working on for the last couple of months launched last week. it was a sterling effort by all involved, and i’m pretty happy with the first iteration. there is a lot of potential for what we can do further; personalisation, web-2-mobile, different content. but the numbers will tell us where to go from here

Searching for geniuses

So, I’m back in South Africa for 6 weeks now (it kinda feels like I never left), and creating a games strategy for Its great powering through Powerpoint and meeting people and getting things up and running, but the one man army thing can only take you so far.

Which is why I need you dear reader to help me. I am looking for some people to join my team. Having loads of games experience is not crucial (but would be nice), loving the internet, hungry to get things done and being keen is crucial.

Immediately I need a games marketer , an online marketer and a mobile marketer

Applications via twitter, in the comments, via homing pigeon (or even by email) are accepted

(photo does not necessarily reflect the new team)

social gaming- what’s it all about

Games are big news in the entertainment industry. I know I have to say that because games pay my salary, but if you look at game they’re moving out of the preserve of geeky teenagers and into the family sphere. I think the wii has done a lot for making games accessible to people who were born in an age when controller didn’t exist. The wii is all about simple movements much like you’ll use in real life and its really intuitive to use. Similarly the games that are being developed for it are easy to pick up and understand. Nicole Kidman aimed straight at the baby-boomers when she was advertising brain training through gaming as a way of reinvigorating your grey cells.
These are all interesting incidents of games coming more into the sphere of the common (wo)man , but there is another quiet phenomena which is revolutionizing gaming. Social networks have got people playing games in droves, I’m sure that you would have had an invite for Mafia Wars or Texas Hold ‘em on Facebook.
First, some facts about social gaming;
1) Monthly active users (the metric of choice) of the top 20 Facebook games apps was 139,820,009 in May (these are not deduplicated, so there will be some overlap with people playing multiple games)
2) Zynga (one of the top developers) claims to be making $100million a year
3) Playfish has 100MM installed games in 18 months
4) The top 25 Myspace games apps have had about 100MM installs
These are big numbers for an industry that only started less than 2 years ago. There are a couple of different approaches amongst the front runners in this industry; some are all about developing the best content, whilst others have a laserlike focus on the consumer and their experience. Both approaches seem to work. The big challenge is trying to monetize this audience; it costs a lot to keep servers running and the current monetization opportunities are through subscriptions, micropayments and advertising. These are less tested and guaranteed than the traditional method of license sales through some sort of freemium model. There is also a long way to go in terms of playing socially on your telephone. There have been some initial forays into this (“Who has the biggest brain?” used Facebook connect), but there is a scope to develop this into something huge in the future.
The big ideas behind social gaming is that it transforms gaming from where it is at the moment; its not about a solitary pursuit in the warm glow of the screen, its more along the lines of playing a board game with the family. Its entertainment with a low threshold for getting involved, with more of a focus on the communication and interaction around the game rather than strictly the game itself. Its early days in this market, but I’m excited to be involved with it.