Users want to connect with their friends when playing games, but application developers are struggling to make this happen since a user’s friends are not all playing games on the same platform. With all the hype behind cross platform gaming, there are very few true successes.
PopCap Games cracked the cross platform code with Bejeweled Blitz for Facebook and iOS. Bejeweled Blitz is the #10 most popular Facebook application and the #14 paid iPhone app in the App Store at a $2.99 pricepoint, #14 in top grossing. This synchronization enabled Bejeweled Blitz to get a mass user base—last count is 12,506,757 users as of 9/12/2010 (source, www.appdata.com) as the game allows users to connect to Facebook and compete with friends whether they are on their PC or iPhone.
In the example below, Colleen is playing in a weekly Bejeweled Blitz tournament on her PC through Facebook, while Jessica is playing in the same tournament on her iPhone —now that’s an integrated platform. Colleen and Jessica had never played the same game together, because Colleen doesn’t have an iOS device. Now they are regularly competing for the highest Bejeweled Blitz score.
Another indication that apps are moving toward cross platform synchronization is Google’s recent acquisition of Social Deck, a platform which provides social synchronization for app developers across Blackberry, iPhone and Facebook . Google is reportedly working on a social platform to rival Facebook.
OpenFeint is also working on a multi-player, cross-platform solution for Android and iOS called OpenFeint PlayTime. Reportedly OpenFeint PlayTime also gives the user matchmaking, game servers and real-time voice chat. “Traditionally, multiplayer technology has been accessible only to top-tier developers. It’s just too complicated and time-consuming.” states Aurora Feint CEO Jason Citron.
Strong cross platform synchronization is going to become a defining requirement for games to achieve top prominence as social experiences will require that users can play all of their friends. I believe we’ll see Apple incorporate tools in Game Center to make cross platform experiences easier through tighter integration with Facebook within the next year.
Kudos to PopCap Games for their work on Bejeweled Blitz!