Social game enhancement service BringIt updates its platform this week to include a head-to-head competition mode that creates a new viral channel for client social games.
The existing BringIt platform adds a skill-based mini-game (e.g. a timed match-3 game) to an existing social game where players can enter tournaments to wager Facebook Credits on their mini-game score compared to other players’. The mini-games pay out winnings in the premium virtual currency of the client social game, making the integration a retention tool for players that hit a wall in gameplay where they don’t want to spend more Credits to purchase premium currency — essentially letting them gamble on themselves.
The new head-to-head feautre, says BringIt CEO Woodrow Levin, increases retention not just through virality but also by tapping into the Facebook players’ natural desire to compete with their friends. The mode allows players to challenge friends directly for one-on-one competition, as opposed to matching players up against random opponents that they may not even know. Instead of sending an Invite, the challenge creates a post on that friend’s Wall, which creates a new viral channel for the game. Additionally, BringIt activities also show up in Facebook’s recently-launched live app ticker.
“Kabam and all these other companies are [focusing] on competition to keep engagement high and monetize users at a higher rate,” Levin tells us. “So we’re taking this competitive nature of challenging your friends to a mini-game for virtual currency. We’re not only helping the games monetize better through competition, but we’re also adding a new viral hook that will bring [players] back to the game.”
Levin and Mike Burlando, BringIt’s VP of Engineering, walked us through a demo in a test environment using the Pot Farm BringIt mini-game as an example. Burlando created a challenge aimed at Levin, which then appeared on Levin’s wall. By clicking on it, Levin went straight to the mini-game to compete for a high score. As soon as the round ended, the winnings were deposited into the in-game wallet of the player with the higher score.
Levin explains that though we could see the challenge from Burlando to Levin on the latter’s Wall, clicking on the post would’ve just taken us or any other third-party observer to the home screen on the BringIt integration, or to a tutorial if we’d never played the Pot Farm BringIt game before. Head-to-head mode allows players to challenge up to 10 friends at once.
Cheating was a major concern BringIt had in developing this feature. Levin says the company developed 15 different safeguards around head-to-head mode alone to prevent users from dumping money from one account into another, which would be “money laundering, essentially.” The main way in which BringIt monitors cheating is in syncing currency with client games while taking its service fee — any anomalies in player activity or currency fluctuation would be easily detected.
Levin points out, however, that even if a player wanted to move currency around between accounts, a player still has to generate Facebook Credits or in-game premium currency before buying into a round of BringIt’s head-to-head. The only real danger we could see with BringIt’s system is in cases where a client social game gives all new users some premium currency to start off with, which could lead to cheaters creating numerous phony accounts. Levin says BringIt’s safeguards would be able to track this kind of user behavior.
As the platform expands to include more client social games on Facebook, Levin says we can expect to see more features added to BringIt. Among those, he mentions skill-matching with random opponents in head-to-head, better player records with a worldwide leaderboard for tournaments, and the potential to pay out virtual items as tournament winnings instead of virtual currency.
“So let’s say you wager 10 Credits and I wager 10 credits for this one item that would normally cost 15 Credits [in-game],” Levin says. “The client has no cost of goods sold because they’re getting 20 Credits for that item and players can get [that item] for less than they would’ve had to pay. So the client gets additional currency at a faster rate.” Levin adds that they have talked with some developers about creating virtual items exclusively available as BringIt prizes.
Head-to-head mode rolls out across all BringIt integrations as of this week. Previous and existing integrations include Pot Farm, Mall World, the original Zoo World and Barn Buddy. Levin tells us that with a Happy Aquarium integration launched in August, the platform saw an influx of 300,000 new players in three-and-a-half days, which pushes BringIt’s total number of unique users to just over 8 million.