Digital Chocolate and the ‘Omni’ Consumer

August 14th, 2009 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Analysis & Editorial, Platforms: iOS | No Comments »

Digital-chocolate Yesterday, Digital Chocolate announced their 1 millionth review on iTunes. DC shows it's commitment to the platform so we asked Trip Hawkins how he looks at social networks, gaming and consumers.

In the last five years we’ve seen a dramatic change in consumer behaviour around interactive digital media.  Previously it was considered a “hardcore” experience to play games and the peak of the market would be the sale of 100 million PlayStations or GameBoys.  But since then we have seen over one billion consumers adopt email, browsing, texting, IM, photo-sharing and ringtones.  We’ll soon be at a similar scale with social networks and consumers now carry around over 4 billion social computers that used to be known as phones.

As a result, gaming has exploded on new platforms including the web, feature phones, social networks and smartphones like the iPhone and iPod touch.  But this is not your daddy’s game business.  The primary customer is no longer a hardcore gamer that wants to sit for hours alone in their basement until they defeat a challenging game.  Today’s customer is everyone, and this “Omni” audience cares more about social connection and they all want to feel like winners.  This is such a big trend that it has even been embraced by the hardcore gamers who bought the Wii and Guitar Hero instead of spending that money on more hardcore games to play alone.

It is only natural in this trend towards social gaming that new platforms like Facebook and iPhone would be showing the way.  Omni consumers need simplicity and convenience and platforms that are always within reach.  Perhaps more surprising is the fact that the big hits are innovative new apps like Pocket God and Tower Bloxx.  This is because social gaming involves sharing and you’re not as likely to tell friends that you’re playing an old game from an old platform, and you won’t look cool if you brag about playing solitaire.  Also, most of these consumers are not hardcore gamers so they don’t care about hardcore brands and don’t want to talk about them or hear about them.  But it is pretty hilarious to tell your friends about launching goofy penguins with a catapult in Crazy Penguin Catapult.

We see this reflected in Digital Chocolate’s performance on the iPhone.  We’ve now had well over 30 million downloads this year, more than any other company.  We’ve had 6 different games hit the # 1 spot on the app store, including the current # 1, 20Q Mind Reader.  That’s another record, as is the fact that we’ve had more than 1,000,000 Apple consumers post reviews of our games on the App Store.  This is quite a remarkable community forum and has provided us with invaluable feedback about our customers.  We’re also delighted that we’ve had the highest review score averages for purchased games and have had far more 5-star reviews than any other company.  Crazy Penguin Catapult alone has as many 5-star reviews as the population of a city like San Mateo, California.

There is an underlying formula for success here:  originality, quality and ubiquity divided by file size.  People want to tell their friends about fun games that they know their friends haven’t seen and that they will probably like.  And of course if the file size is smaller they will be easier to download.  But not to be overlooked is the fundamental nature of social need.  People need social contact.  They no longer live in small villages with a lot of social intimacy; today they mostly don’t even know their neighbors.  And we need things to talk about, that can start conversations and keep them going.  Now that everyone is involved in digital media, it is a hot topic for sharing.  And our new media platforms are providing methods to enable and accelerate that sharing.  It’s a new kind of village.  Psst, have you checked out 3D Rollercoaster Rush?  It’s really cool, let me know what you think!

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    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.


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