Booyah Society gained plenty of attention when it launched in July, thanks to the fact its creators came from Blizzard, Activision and Insomniac, and raised $4.5 million in funding from venture capitalists.
The free app - which seeks to link virtual world activities with real world locations and experiences via in-game chat and links into Twitter and Facebook - is only an initial taster of what the company has planned, as we found out when we fired some questions over to CEO Keith Lee.Pocket Gamer: Having played Booyah Society for a week, it seem like it works as an additional layer to Facebook and Twitter networks. Is this a fair description?
Keith Lee: It's not so much an additional layer but a complement to existing social networks. We love Facebook and Twitter and use them daily. But we had to ask ourselves: If we're already posting status updates, why not get credit and acknowledgement for what you're doing on these social activity streams?
Basically, our goal right is not to change your behaviour, but reward the behaviour you already do (in this case, posting on social networks).
As we regularly update Booyah Society, our primary goal will be to encourage you to try and discover new activities and change your behaviour. As an incentive, look forward to both virtual and real world rewards for what you do.How do you decide where to draw the line between the game-like aspects of Booyah Society and the diary-like aspects?
The journal was included as a way for users to look back at everything they've accomplished in their life. It was never meant to be part of the core game mechanic; instead, it was designed as an easy way for users to reminisce about their experiences using Booyah Society.
Long term, it'll be a full blown journal to track all your accomplishments and activities in a fun, cool way.The categories - such as Shopping, Passion, and Travel - provide an overall structure but they seem rigid in terms of how they are linked into the achievement system. Will there be more flexibility in future?
The rigid nature of the categories actually plays into the long term vision of the product since we never planned on allowing users to define their own categories. A better analogy is approaching it from a traditional RPG sense - imagine each of our categories represent different player classes.
Even though one user may not be interested in say Shopping, there will be others in the community who are very interested in that category.
It's this diversity in interests that will be our foundation for creating interesting (and necessary) social interactions to accomplish goals. It's the difference between being a 'tank' versus a 'healer' in a RPG: both classes play a vital role in accomplishing group goals. So in order for us to maintain this dynamic, we've established a similar rigid category set.What can you tell us about your expansion plans?
Right now, simple bite-size apps have been garnering the most success. Moreover, releasing multiple apps or spin-off apps increase your chances of charting and hitting a home run with one of them. So we're definitely not excluding the idea of creating smaller spin-offs as long as it aligns with our long term vision for Booyah Society.
However, you must also be cautious with this snack-app approach. It introduces the challenge of managing multiple apps and production timelines (and the inefficiencies associated with that). Ultimately, our strategy will be determined by the App Store ecosystem as it continues to evolve in the upcoming weeks and months.The real life activities suggested by the app seem rather generic. Will there be the option to customise them?
Absolutely. There will be options to further customise individuals' interests. The current release of Booyah Society is really our first step in our long term vision to create an Achievement System for Life.
This is just a kernel product - we're laying the groundwork now so that each category will have special achievements and conditions so that everyone's achievements are unique.
Right now, you earn basic achievements based on social activity such as posts, comments, and likes from friends on Facebook and Twitter. In the future, as our content grows, these initial achievements will be funneled into the Social Life category. Moreover, we plan to populate each of the life categories with other achievement types including GPS/location achievements.
Speaking of GPS/location achievements, look out for our first set in the upcoming weeks. Imagine earning an achievement for going to Alcatraz in San Francisco or the Louvre in Paris?
And look for more achievements types and content packs as we regularly update our app in the upcoming weeks and months.Thanks to Keith for his time.
You can also check out the PocketGamer.biz interview with him about the inspiration behind and longterm business plans for Booyah Society.
You can get Booyah Society, which is free, by hitting the 'Buy It!' link.