Earlier this week, social game company Booyah (whom we've spoken with before) released its latest game for iOS, called Nightclub City: DJ Rivals. Booyah first found huge success with an iOS social game called MyTown, and then went over to Facebook to create Nightclub City, a social app about sharing music among friends. Now the company is back on iOS with DJ Rivals, and early indications are that it's going to be popular: it's already garnered over 10,000 downloads in just over a day.
Last week at GDC 2011, I spoke with Booyah's Brian Cho about the game and the plan behind it, and he told me that Booyah is "taking the best parts of MyTown and the learning that we had on Nightclub City," and combining those into both a persistent social game, as well as an arcade-style music game to play inside of it. He showed me the app as well -- after creating an avatar in the style of Nightclub City, you then claim locations around you (or around your friends, even if you're not in the same place), and then your DJ can play music battles (akin to Guitar Hero or DJ Hero on consoles) to take over those locations.
That's a little more "gamey" than MyTown was -- MyTown consisted mostly of check-ins, like Foursquare, combined with virtual item sales for various boosts and stat upgrades. DJ Rivals has those, too -- players can buy boosts for their characters with in-app purchases. And some of those items are branded with company names or logos, which is how Booyah has made some extra money with these apps.
Some of that work has been successful -- Booyah will often offer players a bonus if they can scan a certain product, like a bottle of shampoo or a certain cereal. The client then pays for each one of those scans, said Cho. I asked him if that really encouraged engagement with the products, since it seems to me that most people would just go to a store, scan the item in, and then never think about it again. But he told me that rather than pushing engagement, which is something Booyah did early on, they now suggest that these are just "impression-based advertisements." It's about exposure, not creating a serious relationship. Even so, some of the numbers are crazy -- Booyah offered one of their scanning deals to a million people, and they found that 50 percent of the users offered actually did take them up on the deal at one point.
Cho told me that Booyah is continuing to scale up as a company -- one of the next goals is global growth, so we may soon see a deal to publish or distribute these games overseas as well. Finally, I asked him about Booyah's users, and while he claimed the official stats were that they ranged from 18-28, we both agreed that there is probably a significant number of users below that age, though he didn't have exact stats.
It seems like DJ Rivals will be popular, though it'll be hard to match MyTown's over 6 million users. We'll see.
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