Interview

Booyah's Keith Lee on moving from World of Warcraft to iPhone

Booyah's Keith Lee on moving from World of Warcraft to iPhone
One of the most interesting, and well funded, start-ups to enter the iPhone space in 2009 is US outfit Booyah.

Formed by three former Blizzard staff who've previously worked on games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo III, its first release is the free Booyah Society which launched at the end of July 2009.

The app works in the form of a journal in which you enter your thoughts and gain achievements for doing so. You can also view the thoughts of other players, and link it into your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We caught up with CEO Keith Lee to find out about the company's inspiration and its longterm vision.

Pocket Gamer: How relevant do you think your experience with traditional games and MMOGs is in terms of Booyah Society?

Keith Lee: In terms of our long term vision for Booyah, our team's past experience is very relevant. Our plan is to apply traditional gaming rule sets to a new audience, market space, and real world experiences.

Although our first product is a lightweight representation of our long term vision for an achievement system for life, we want to work with our community to build toward that vision.

Above all, our experience with traditional gaming has given us a solid understanding of how to approach community management and learn from our users' feedback on the product.

We take a very iterative approach - MMOs are constantly evolving and require flexibility in the design and development process. Similarly, we're applying our past experiences building passionate communities into the development process for Booyah Society.

What's the inspiration behind Booyah Society?

Keith Lee: Having worked on traditional game titles for the past eight years ranging from 3D platformers on consoles (Ratchet & Clank) to large scale RPGs (World of Warcraft, Diablo III), the founders at Booyah were inspired by the idea of taking the same motivators that drove people to play games for hundreds of hours and apply them to help people be more accomplished versions of themselves in the real world.

The Booyah team's very excited to use these same motivators to channel peoples' energies to accomplish real world challenges and goals. There's so much great content out there in the world - from going to the Pyramids to checking out the latest concert at Golden Gate Park to great restaurants in New York City. Why not take advantage of these and get people to discover new activities and accomplishments in real life?

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.

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.

You’re a very well funded company, but what's the longterm business model for Booyah Society?

There's no shortage of business models and revenue streams once you start overlaying the digital and real world on each other.

In particular, it opens up the opportunity for real world partnerships, virtual goods/currency, content packs, and integrated branding. What's great is that we're well diversified - and now that our app is out, we can start playing around with potential revenue streams.

Most of all, the long term business models we use are determined primarily by what provides the best user experience and value for our customers.

Thanks to Keith for his time

You can get Booyah Society, which is free, via this App Store link.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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