Seattle-based PressOK Entertainment, a game development company, launched an interesting new service this week in public beta called PlacePlay, which the startup describes as a “location enablement platform” for games. Location is something that hasn’t really been explored much in gaming as of yet, so simply put, PlacePlay aims to tackle the obstacles that prevent location from becoming a relevant facet of the games we play every day.
For starters, the platform is focused on giving game developers the ability to quickly add local tournaments into gameplay, so that a user can, for example, play a virtual game of Battleship with other players that live on the same block. Though tournaments are the primary feature of the platform at this point, PlacePlay also supports location-based virtual goods, objects, achievements, and more.
PlacePlay is targeting Apple iOS as its main platform, but it just so happens that Apple prevents mobile developers from displaying location-based advertising in apps if they don’t include location based features. Happily for developers, because PlacePlay gives them easy access to location-based features for gameplay, developers also have the ability to take advantage of integrated local advertising networks to not only drive more engagement via in-game activities like tournaments, but also gives them access to higher ad revenue from targeted local advertising.
PressOK CEO and Co-founder Ryan Morel says that the simple truth is that it’s much easier to drive consumer action as part of gameplay than to drive action outside of gameplay, i.e. implicit user behavior versus explicit. In other words, if game developers were to add no reward for a user to join, say, a game’s leaderboard (other than it being free), but added incentive for users to play in certain locations (like free level packs for completing location-based challenges) — engagement is still going to be much higher in leaderboards, which are implicitly part of gameplay, rather than actions that are not.
There’s less friction for a consumer to participate in a local tournament than there is to get them to take some specific action at a specific place or time. When it comes to appeal for advertisers, it’s hard to find location-based games that overcome these challenges and still have a large enough user base to be relevant, he says.
In allowing third party developers access to PlacePlay’s SDK, the startup hopes that it will be able to collect data from a large number of users, across a wide set of games, by integrating features gamers love (like leaderboards, tournaments, virtual goods, etc.) around location. In the short term, Morel says, PlacePlay will monetize through integrated local ad networks, and longterm the startup plans to monetize through direct deals with brands and sponsors. Widespread distribution of its SDK among game developers will obviously be key if this is to happen.
Thus, the value proposition for PlacePlay is that it allows developers to drive both engagement and revenue; based on early testing, PlacePlay increases end-user engagement by 1.6-times and offers eCPMs of up to $20 — which should be music to the ears of game developers.
The startup is bootstrapped at this point, but it has already begun working with developers like Joybits and Brisk Mobile, and is in the process of converting more.
For another gaming startup making some cool strides in location-based features, especially in regard to gaming check-ins, check out our recent coverage of Heyzap.
For more on PlacePlay, check out the video below: