Earlier this week Twitter announced an update to Twitter Cards, enabling mobile app developers to deep-link users to their app directly from a tweet. This could be used to simply launch the app, if already installed on the user’s device, or do something more creative by passing additional parameters into the app itself.
That’s right, Twitter just became a distribution platform for mobile apps but what’s even more interesting are the new possibilities this creates for mobile game developers.
New Interactions and Game Mechanics
Deep-linking enables creators to initiate custom events within their game when the user clicks the link. This opens up several new possibilities. Here are a few:
- Gifts and Rewards - unlock an item, virtual currency, or other game content to the referring or referred users.
- In-App Purchase Offers - present exclusive or discounted content available for in-app purchase.
- Invites - invites can be explicit (“play with me!”) or embedded within the core game loop as players post a challenge (“I just beat your score, sucka!”), inform friends it’s their turn (“your turn to draw something”), and other re-engagement mechanics.
- UGC - display a video replay, high-score, customized avatar, and other user-generated content. Although this is feasible by simply linking to the web, typically fidelity is often lost depending on the type of content shared, and referred users don’t have a means to interact with the content.
And we’ll see a gazillion of other (more) creative mechanics. Many of these will be repurposed from traditional Facebook games in addition to new innovations unique to the Twitter platform.
Closing the Loop - Measuring WOM
Freemium gaming, the increasingly dominant business model in games, is driven by analytics. Unfortunately, word-of-mouth is notoriously difficult to measure in the closed app ecosystem.
Deep linking enables creators to include additional parameters within the link, passing this information into the app itself.
The game developer can now better measure the ROI of social sharing on Twitter, attributing downstream retention, monetization, and other contributors to lifetime value driven from the original tweet and referrer. This data provides new insight to feed back into product design decisions. Without this insight, it’s difficult to evaluate effectiveness these efforts and justify the investment.
Twitter as a Platform for Gaming
Facebook owes much of its early success and growth to gaming, driving their efforts to increase their penetration into the mobile game market. It is wise for Twitter to do the same adding games, a $9 billion market, to its expanding media platform.
The unique difference between the two platforms is that Facebook is a place to connect with people you know where as Twitter is a place to connect with people you want to know. Its open network enables users to engage with anyone and find others that share similar interests using hashtags. While this may lead to more noise, it also facilitates more connections, serendipity, and arguably a more curated experience based on trusted people and shared interests.
What do you think? Is Twitter the next big gaming platform?
 The user must have the app installed when the link is clicked to capture custom events and tracking parameters. Users that download the app and launch it from outside the link will not include the necessary information.
 Everyplay and Kamcord are fairly new technologies that enable players to seamlessly record and share their gameplay.
 It’s no secret that Twitter is evolving into a media platform with its acquisition of Vine, development of its own photo-sharing, and continued additions of new media embedded within Twitter Cards.