HeyZap Goes After Social Discovery, Launches Check-in For Mobile Games

Heyzap, a monetization and distribution platform for online casual games, announced today that it’s going mobile. Launching a social discovery application for mobile games on Android, the startup will be bringing the 1.6 million users it has already accumulated on its social gaming platform over to mobile.

The company aims to build on its foray into social gaming last year, when it announced a partnership with fifteen social game developers, like Aeria Games, Game Duell, and TheBroth, to name a few. Using Facebook connect, the partnership made the developers’ games available on the 450,000 sites across the Web that had already integrated HeyZap’s platform. Social networking sites and tools Ning and myYearbook are among the sites that host Heyzap games.

Yet, in spite of the success of its partnerships with social game makers, Heyzap Co-founder and President Jude Gomila told me that significant deficiencies still exist in today’s online and mobile gaming communities. Chief among them is the lack of an easy and trustworthy method by which to discover new games that target the individual’s specific interests. Gomila also sees an absence of viral channels and secure communities for mobile games.

The startup’s new Android app attempts to fill these gaps through its check-in feature, which allows users to connect with friends and view check-ins that occur in a news-feed format on the app’s principal interface. This enables gamers to discover and play new free and paid games as well as discover which games their friends are playing.

Essentially, Heyzap is trying to do for gaming communities what Foursquare and Instagram did for check-ins and photos. And maybe it can: Over the last month, despite being in alpha, the company tallied over 250,000 check-ins across 3000 Android games in one month.

But Heyzap wants to retain these early adopters, so to address the lack of community functionality in mobile games Gomila referenced, the Heyzap app offers a tab for users to share tips and comments within games, hoping to create a community around each individual game. Users can win badges by exploring games and performing social actions in the Heyzap app.

Heyzap is also announcing the release of a developer SDK, which has been integrated into 20 of the most popular games on Android, including Bubble Buster, X Construction, Wheelz, Slot Machine and Plumber. This is significant because it is designed to quickly increase the virality of a game by allowing users to check-in (and broadcast) to Facebook, Twitter, and the Heyzap graph by way of a simple button.

The SDK also enables users to more easily find the games played most recently on the Heyzap app and to check-in both at the end of a game’s level and when gamers unlock achievements. For more info and to download the SDK, click here.

While Gomila told me that Heyzap is working on adding an iPhone app in the near future, he says that, at this point, Android offers developer features that make it much more appealing than iOS. The instant release cycle on Android, for example, allows developers and distributors to iterate quickly and take advantage of the weekly release cycles — far more frequent than that which is enabled by Apple. What’s more, Android special features offer the ability to install or launch a game from directly within the Heyzap app, which is pretty cool.

I’m not aware of any apps currently out there that tell gamers what their friends are playing, but just because the idea hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean Heyzap has too much time before potential competitors like OpenFeint and Ngmoco jump in.