Ex-PopCap developer and Plants vs. Zombies
mobile engineering lead Roy Liu has co-founded a new start-up called Gimmie, where he's launched the closed beta for a rewards program that offers real world products to mobile game players.
By incentivizing users to buy virtual goods and spend more times with their games, the platform looks to boost in-app revenues for partner titles, and to serve as an alternative business model to in-game advertising without distracting players.
When users play Gimmie-supported mobile games, they earn points by completing designated activities, such as buying virtual goods, signing up for newsletters, or progressing through the games. They can then redeem those points for free or discounted real world products.
Liu, who was PopCap's mobile game software engineer and the lead developer for Plants vs Zombies
, is the chief technology officer for the company, while co-founder and former ChinaCache business development director David NG serves as CEO for Gimmie.
The San Francisco-based firm has raised $200,000 in seed capital funding from mobile industry incubator Tandem, and launched the private beta for its rewards platform (available for free to developers) today with ten partner studios and ten consumer product brands.
"The biggest part of developing a good mobile game is creating the best user experience, and so often mobile ads get in the way of this," says Jason Citron, an advisor for Gimmie and the founder for mobile social gaming network OpenFeint.
Citron adds, "Gimmie is the first monetization platform I've seen that doesn't interfere with the game, and it provides a whole new way to help developers increase engagement that is fun for everyone. It's a dramatically different approach from any other platform I've seen."