– social software

Are Social Games Evil ?

A few weeks ago I had gone to a networking event in Mt View and met up with a lot of entrepreneurs and likewise hacker oriented people. I also bumped into a friend of mines that I had met up in earlier networking events. He had taken a job at one of the big social game publishers since we had last talked.

I enjoy following the innovation being built on top of social networking platforms like facebook, twitter etc. So, I asked him how it felt to be working for one of these game publishers. He said it was a fun and a busy job, since they have to constantly innovate to keep up with the user’s engagement and also come up with the strategies to monetize them. And he also described a little bit more about the user behavior, demographics etc. However, he made a statement that stood out of all this conversation. He mentioned that he does not feel good about wasting people’s time since most of the social games are built around user engagement and trying to keep them playing for hours.

I think he is right to some extent that these games encourage a lot of unproductive hours for the users. However, you could also look at it from the flip side that these games provide entertainment, happiness etc along with the ability to socialize with other players in the game. As a kid I remember playing Super Mario Brothers and other video games for hours and hours. Could I have been productive doing other things ? Yes. Do I regret playing Mario Brothers for hours and hours back in the days ? No.

In conclusion, I feel the game developer should make his game as engaging as possible and provide them with value like entertainment, social interactivity with fellow users. However, the user’s should be smart enough to know when to pull the plug and do other activities in their life as well. What do you guys feel ? I would love to hear your commentaries.


July 5, 2010 Posted by | facebook application, game | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you wanna come shopping with me …. online ?

plurchase_logo400x100Plurchase is a brand new service from Ycombinator that will let you do exactly that. It’s currently in private and will be launching in a few days. Tom Saffell of Plurchase gave a sneek preview of the service at the New Tech Meetup at Palo Alto.

Plurchase let’s consumers shop on eCommerce sites like Amazon, Zappos and get feedback, advice from their friends using a sidebar widget.(They actually display the eCommerce site in an iFrame). You can bookmark products, search for products and share them on Facebook using Facebook Connect. They have also integrated a chat system to get real time advice from your friends. It currently supports only 3 eCommerce sites Amazon, Zappos, and Craigslist respectively.

Tom mentioned that they plan to make money via the affiliate program when a user/friend makes a purchase through their system. A typical payment in Amazon’s affiliate program ranges from 4 to 14%.

I am eagerly looking forward  to see the service go live and see it’s impact on online consumer spending. Leveraging the social graph of facebook(and maybe other newtworks) for online shopping seems like a smart move. You can follow them on twitter @plurchase for updates or read their blog here.

I have attached a few screenshots below



Update: The site is live so go play with it.

October 6, 2009 Posted by | facebook application, web application | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Announcement: Monetization Meetup (May 18, 2009)


389916_PeanutLabs_LogoPeanut Lab’s is sponsoring a Monetization meetup at Google Hqrs on May 18th, 2009. 


Monday May 18th 
Network for the first 30-45 minutes then have a few speakers speaking for 10-15 minutes each with Q&A time after each speaker.


Googleplex (Bldg. 43)

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Tunis Conference Room
Mountain View, CA 94043



The speakers for the evening listed below will discuss best practices around monetization in their respective companies :

  • Jonathan from EA
  • Michael from
  • Ali from Peanut Labs
  • Sergio from Norwest Venture Partners
  • Shanti from Three Rings
  • Lars from Frogster
  • Paul from (he’s too cool to be associated with any company… just yet) 

Hope to see you all there.

May 17, 2009 Posted by | Announcement, facebook application, iphone application, mobile application, open social application, web application | , , , , | Leave a comment

Guide to Creating a Virtual Economy for Social Applications


Anu Shukla, the CEO of offerpal media, gave a presentation at Myspace DevJam on building a virtual economy for engaging  social applications.  Offerpal media is a “Managed Offer Network” for social application publishers and online merchants. 

The Key points from the presentation are:

Name the Currency – The Virtual currency should have a name in the application.  It could be anything from “green bucks”, “chips”, “pet dollars” etc so that a user can relate to it with respect to the application.

Earn Currency – The user of the application should be provided with multiple different methods to earn the virtual currency and be a part of the system.  A few common  methods are:

  1. Loyalty Rewards. (Logging In to Application)
  2. Incentives to Invite New Users.
  3. Complete Action/Activity.
  4. Complete Offers from online merchants.
  5. Real Dollars using Paypal.

 Redeem Currency – The user should also be given different avenues to redeem all the currency that they earned in the application. It helps to keep the economy healthy.

  1.  Decorative Goods – These could be self expressive gifts. Ex: Clothes, Toys in the “Make a baby” application.
  2. Virtual Gifts – The ability to gift other users a virtual product, as it leads to social interaction. Ex: Gifting Plants in the application “Green patch”.
  3.  Functional Goods – These goods alter the user experience of an application. It could add more power/ability to the character in the application. Ex: Buying Virtual Weapons to enhance your chance of winning and defeating the enemy.

Promote Currency – The Application should promote the currency. A tab or banner add should be displayed to the user, so that they can easily find different ways to earn and redeem the currency

 Keep Economy Fresh – The economy should always be fresh so that the users have the incentive of interacting with the application and have a fun experience. This can be done by adding new goods, and innovative services to keep the interest level of the users always up.

Measure, Test, Analyze – The developer should always measure and tweak their application based on user behavior and their interaction with the virtual economy.offerpalstats1

Update: Post by Anu Shukla on Tips.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | facebook application, web application | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Leverage Existing Successful Facebook Apps


The Facebook platform has been a great launch pad for creating an engaging and viral social application. Developing an application for Facebook has an instant benefit that you can potentially tap into the 50+ Million Facebook users. They provide some really good tools/api’s to leverage the social graph into your Facebook applications. A fairly simple to complex app can be easily written with the knowledge of only FBML (like HTML) & PHP. (They do support a bunch of other languages as well.) 

If you are wondering what is FBML? It is basically a mark up language similar to HTML that has tags that are specific to Facebook. The use of FBML makes your application development faster and with less server side code to perform simple tasks. It also helps to keep the feel and flow of Facebook in terms of colors, styles etc.  They have tags to get trivial information like name, profile picture to a complete implementation of a wall with the use of a simple FBML tag. The other advantage of using FBML is that they are fine tuned to get the date from Facebook servers efficiently and so the response time is faster, thereby making your application load faster.

I have used these tags in my favor to quickly create dashboards, invites, wall etc and gather other friend data to have the feel and look consistent with Facebook. Now imagine if I could also use a few Tags to get some data from the content rich and successful application iLike for an application that revolves around music artists. Guess What? … It has been announced today that Facebook has allowed application developers to share/use custom tags from other applications. It’s an extension of the existing FBML tags. Facebook has just made it even easier and quicker to create some content rich applications for their platform. 

January 13, 2009 Posted by | facebook application, web application | , , , , | Leave a comment