P4RC's Jason Seldon on reaping the real rewards of a social game achievement network
It's one thing to pull off a hat trick in Angry Birds but to have it recognised with a satisfying ping sound and a badge in your Game Center account to commemorate your skills is something else.
It's a question that P4RC's founder and CEO Jason Seldon posed to himself when launching P4RC, a platform that turns your in-game achievements into a currency to purchase real-world gifts and discounts.
As the company wraps up its Series A financing, we decided to find out just how successful P4RC's reward system has been so far and what the company has lined up for its future.
Pocket Gamer: How did the idea for P4RC come about?
Jason Seldon: Each of the founders previously worked for a company that builds private social networks for large brands. The process of recruiting members for these private communities taught us a lot about the power of rewards.
It's easy to build an audience when the community is centered around a topic that people are passionate about, such as music, movies and cars. But what do you do when the topic is something people are less passionate about, such as office supplies or shipping?
The answer is rewards. So if rewards are powerful at getting people to do things that don't necessarily excite them, then they must become incredibly powerful when applied to activities people actually want to participate in, such as playing games.
So as we watched the saturation of the mobile gaming market grow, we realised that rewards could become a competitive differentiator to help drive traffic to one game over another in a very crowded market, and P4RC was born.
What is the background of the company founders?
I am the company's CEO. My entire career has been focused on technology, entertainment, and gaming. I previously worked for companies such as Electronic Arts, Disney, and MGM. In 2010, I founded Eye Interactive to support the launch of P4RC.
This allowed us to build our platform on real games (as opposed to building in a vacuum). So the result was a very high quality version 1.0 of P4RC.
The games also happened to be very successful as well. Zombie Samurai was ranked a top 10 action game on Apple's top charts in 22 countries and Stop Those Fish was ranked a top 10 arcade game on Apple's top charts in 82 countries.
We used Stop Those Fish to launch P4RC in late January, and an update to Zombie Samurai that includes P4RC (as well as some cool new zombies) will be released soon.
Armando Pena is the company's VP of mobile technology. Armando is a hardcore technologist whose resume includes names such as NASA-JPL. Armando was also an early mobile pioneer as the co-founder and CEO of Fotochatter, one of the first mobile social networks. Incidentally, Armando's co-founder at Fotochatter was Omar Hamoui, the founder of Admob.
Jas Dhillon is the company's executive chairman. Jas is a serial entrepreneur who has raised $100 million of equity investment in his leadership roles. His second venture was acquired within 13 months of launch by InterActiveCorp, providing founders and investors with a 10 fold return.
How is P4RC different from other established achievement-based reward networks?
P4RC is very different from the other reward networks as our goal is actually to make games more social, with rewards serving as an incentive for social gaming behaviour.
The system works by linking all member games with a unifying social currency. Players can then challenge their friends in social competitions to win this social currency, which can be exchanged for prizes (which are generally gift cards valued between $25 and $100).
Since the prizes are time limited, it is a race to be the first to claim them, which encourages players to challenge their friends often to try to win the prizes before someone else does.
The social invite system also acts as an app discovery network, but unlike other app discovery networks (which charge anywhere from $0.80 to $2.00 CPI), we do not charge developers for downloads. So our system delivers incremental downloads to developers for free.
Version 1.0 of our platform, which can currently be found in the game Stop Those Fish, does not yet reflect this complete vision, as you only see the reward marketplace without the social layer.
However, version 2.0 of our platform will be rolled out very soon. With version 2.0, P4RC will make every game a social game (even single player arcade and action titles). So all developers will be able to benefit from the same kind of social leverage that drove titles such as Words with Friends and Draw Something to the top of the charts.
How easy is it for a developer to implement P4RC into their games and what platforms do you support?
P4RC is incredibly easy to implement. Our SDK includes only 7 lines of integration code and is only around 100kb in size. So it has a microscopic footprint.
We currently support iOS (including UIKit, Unity and Cocos2d). Our Android support will be available over the summer.
How successful has your rewards program been to-date?
The program launch was incredibly successful. The system generated uplift in duration of gameplay from 50 percent to over 200 percent for P4RC users vs. non-users in our initial test in Stop Those Fish, and players love it.
How easy it is for you to find partners in terms of providing discounts and rewards?
Our partners have been very generous with us so far, but it is always a challenge building a new network as the reward providers want to see a big audience very quickly to make the partnership worthwhile to them.
As we add more games and our audience grows, it will become much easier to bring partners to the table, and we expect to have a very robust rewards marketplace very soon.
Can you talk about any other games that will be using P4RC?
We launched at the end of January with Stop Those Fish because we wanted to carefully test our network to make sure everything was working perfectly before rolling it out to other games, and now we are ready to do so.
In addition to Stop Those Fish and Zombie Samurai, we have several other partners that will be pushing games into the network very soon. A couple notable ones that I can disclose at this time include a sequel to the very popular iPhone title Alone at War and Look Again!, a puzzle game that Apple has repeatedly featured over the past year with more than 1 million downloads.
We also have several other discussions in the works with some very big players in the industry. Our expectation is that we will reach more than 50 million players very soon.
What's next for P4RC?
We are close to wrapping up our Series A financing. So we will be building out our team and building out our network in our mission to make every game social.
Thanks to Jason for his time.
You can keep up with what P4RK gets up to via its website.