Hot Five

Hot Five: Virtual dating apps get dangerous, Glu and Gamevil under the microscope, and Angry Birds analysed

Hot Five: Virtual dating apps get dangerous, Glu and Gamevil under the microscope, and Angry Birds analysed
Welcome to's weekly rundown of the stories clocking up the hits, picking up the click-throughs and generally keeping the advertisers happy by serving up page views.

Or, if you'd prefer, the top five stories currently dominating our readers' attention.

Each week, we'll be counting down the biggest news from the previous seven days, giving just a glimpse of the industry's big issues, from five to one

Is Curiosity a calamity? The Mobile Gaming Mavens reveal all 

Whatever you might think of Peter Molyneux's Curiosity – what's inside the cube, no-one can deny that it's mustered a fair bit of press post launch.

Not all of it good, however. As such, following 22Cans' decision to ask for donations and the revelation that the team had put in 36 hour crunch shifts to get the game running, we asked our Mavens what they thought of the studio's debut 'experiment'.

It delivered one of most fruitful Mavens for some time, perhaps best summed up by consultant Brian Baglow's closing comments.

"If he'd done this in partnership with The Tate Modern, or a partner which could extend the reach of the title into a far larger market, which is normally dismissive or entirely ignorant of gaming, then it could have achieved something incredibly important for the whole games market," he offered

"As it is, I'm yet to be convinced that it's working on a commercial, technical or artistic level. But I'd like to be convinced. I really would."

Gamevil is king of the ring as Android devices power Punch Hero to over 5 million downloads

In editor-at-large Jon Jordan's own words, nothing gets him up in the morning like a nice sales graph.

Last week Korean publisher Gamevil was happy to play ball, with the firm confirming that the COCOSOFT beat-em-up Punch Hero has amassed 5 million downloads to date.

"Growth took off following the Google Play launch, going from just over two million downloads to five million, before plateauing during November," detailed Jordan.

"I think we can all agree Punch Hero has found an audience... on Android devices."

What Glu's financials tell us about monetisation, competition, and success rates in mobile gaming 

The second stats fest of the week revolved around publisher Glu, described by editor-at-large Jon Jordan as the "bellwether company for the western mobile gaming industry."

It makes sense, then, to analyse just what the firm's recent financials tell us about the current health of the mobile market.

"It might seem ridiculous in the context of the 'current mobile gaming boom', but as a bellwether, the issues now experienced by Glu - an innovative, globally-operating $160 million market cap company (at time of writing) - will come to impact many others in this space," opened Jordan.

"The most obvious is Apple's continuing hindrance to any incentivised consumer behaviour on iOS. Tapjoy is the company most often mentioned in this context, but such methods are used by many companies from advertisers to monetisation outlets."

Infographic: How Angry Birds shot for the Star Wars and won
Angry Birds is so used to topping various charts around the globe that it's surprisingly not to see it perched at the top of our own little rundown.

Nevertheless, Mike Cook's latest infographic for the site showcased Angry Birds' rise to prominence over the last three years – a rise that now sees it sharing the billing with the mighty Star Wars.

Feel free to share the infographic on your own site or via social media, though please link back to the original article if you do.

Virtual dating app Boyfriend Maker accused of violent sexual content

Storming up to the top spot with a rush of clicks on Friday was the discovery of a virtual dating app aimed at girls aged 4 and over that appears to come loaded with violent sexual content.

A tip off to alerted us to the aforementioned Boyfriend Maker's chat mode, which uses a chat-bot to engage the player in a conversation with their virtual date.

Problem was, said bot often seems to serve up rather explicit responses. Even more alarmingly, during our play test, the game appeared to make a reference to engaging in sexual activity with underage, and unconscious, subjects.

As the story developed over the weekend, it became clear that Boyfriend Maker taps into a third-party chat engine produced by SimSimi. Said engine is also utilised in SimSimi's own chat app, with users actually able to make conversational suggestions to enable the bot to learn.

It's an approach that's clearly open to abuse and, no doubt, explains the bizarre and often offensive responses served up by Boyfriend Maker's chat mode. Crucially, however, SimSimi's own chat app comes with a 17+ age rating, and lets players report and ban phrases they consider offensive.

So far, Boyfriend Maker developer 36 You is yet to respond to our request for a comment, though the app itself appears to have been pulled from sale.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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