Tip to Game Devs: social networking is gaming wuffie

Game devs, you do a great service to iDevice gamers. You have brought life what once was a barren platform, and you have done it at serviceable price points. In return, I’d like to give you a hint – a supplication really: that you need to heed the desire of gamers by implementing what is fast becoming a gaming necessity: social networking.

As a reviewer and a gamer, my instincts are split between inputs. One, is the necessity of excellent published material, something I’ve already expounded on. Gamers are not flies: we feed and multiply on quality material; publishing buggy, rotten software reflects negatively on any software house. Imagine publishing the best idea, smashing YouTube videos, and grabbing great pre-release press with betas – you’ve pretty much got it made.

But when an app hits the virtual shelves of the App Store and accrues reputation based on its quirks and errors, things go pear shaped. First impressions are the best impressions. Shake your development tree, rid it of bad fruit.

The second input is the addition of social networking functionality. A cheap game can get buy with leader boards where addicted gamers will compete with one another to grab top spot. If, however, your game hovers around or above 3$, it needs to be sent off in style. Think about how the online world and your app world can interact.

Some ideas:

  • news bulletins
  • leader boards
  • cooperative play
  • trading/bartering
  • PVP
  • alliances
  • text/chat
  • file sharing

These are only a few drops in the development bucket, but are incredibly helpful in securing that great first impression and best reviews both at the App Store, and by the online press.

The major reason isn’t because 3$-10$ games need an online component, but because they can and the iDevice advantage is largely coddled in online gaming. Gamers/reviewers are being fed from competitive production houses, some who throw everything, including the kitchen sink into a title. A lot of these new features offer compelling online interaction.

When computer games were composed of very simple graphics, new hardware with bigger and better visuals practically sold itself whether or not it made the game better. The same goes with Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G – these items aren’t necessary to game well, but they are instant wuffie. Implement them, and gamers take notice. Implement them not, and gamers take notice.

Just because you can update your software later isn’t reason to trip off without online support. Iron out the bugs, implement online support, and be set knowing that your app is as ready as it ever will be to rake in the dosh.

Remember, app development isn’t a sinecure – you have to work at it in order to produce a markable return. Iron out the bugs, and implement the features which the iDevice is noted for.

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