Viximo's Social Zone puts the 'social' in mobile social games [Interview]
Well, that's the idea, anyway. Viximo, the company that brings Western social game developers' games to numerous social networks around the globe, has announced Social Zone, its new platform that promises to make mobile games truly social. Social Zone looks to incorporate everything that makes social games what they are into developers' games for iOS and Android.
"Unlike the other services that are out there, we were designed from the ground up to serve social games. Those other services ... were created for what we would refer to as mobile gaming 1.0," Viximo CEO Dale Strang tells us. "They weren't designed to act as social graphs, and they weren't designed to have virality built in. Our network is designed expressly for that, whereas others are being retrofitted or are sort of being blown up and starting over."
Strang's comments refer to services like OpenFeint and Game Center that promise much of the same, along with Japanese companies like DeNA and GREE that look to go global. However, how Viximo differentiates its effort in features like comprehensive support for all social networks, including foreign networks like Germany's VZNet or Brazil and India's Orkut. This is what Viximo calls its Supergraph, or the most customizable and comprehensive social graph players have seen yet.
Within the Supergraph, players can incorporate friends from not just social networks, but their list of contacts within their phones. Then, players can edit their all-encompassing friend list based on the game relationships they have with each friend. Social Zone boasts other features common to Facebook or Google+ games, like an activity feed and the ability to notify friends via email and text messages. Players can also see which of their friends are online in real time within games that use Social Zone. However, Viximo looks to keep as much personal branding out of the platform as possible.
"When network functions were being invoked within their game, somebody else's brand was being popped up," Strang says. "So, there's a user experience issue there where, if you're in a game and you get an OpenFeint experience sort of emerging in the middle of a game, many developers wish that were otherwise."
Another powerful feature behind Social Zone that Strang appears quite proud of is the platform's game recommendation engine. This will include promotions paid for by game developers as well as social recommendations for games based on what friends are playing. Of course, the service will suggest games that support Social Zone that are similar to what players have tried before.
"When people use our system and it says, 'You should try this game,' it isn't necessarily because somebody paid the network to say, 'You should try this game,'" Strang tells us. "It would be because some computer intelligence looked at it and thought, 'You really should try this game. Our algorithms really think that you would want to enjoy it.' That's something that I would enjoy."
Social Zone will be available to all as a series of public APIs, or application programming interface, to incorporate into their games. However, Viximo enters the space with Social Zone just as DeNA prepares its global Mobage network with ngmoco, GREE teams with OpenFeint to do just the same and game makers like Zynga prepare their own platforms that will inevitably include mobile. How will Social Zone fit into all of this where both developers and gamers are concerned?
"There's going to be a fair amount of experimentation, just as there is in any other avenue," Strang admits. "But it's clear that, in terms of people building it themselves, there's a real dichotomy between people that have that expertise and people that don't."
What platform do you use to get social in your favorite Android or iPhone games? Do you think that there's room for another social gaming platform in the mobile games world? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.