Steam Updates Storefront: Is Discovery the Key for Mobile?

Steam-Logo

steam1

Steam’s slogan for its new update says it all: A Smarter Storefront. Personalized Just For You.

The update introduces a “smarter” homepage that recommends games based on past purchases, what you’ve been playing, and friends’ recommendations. While this type of personalized targeting has been widely popular with music and video platforms like Netflix and iTunes, the game industry has been slow to follow suit. Steam’s new update may be the push we need towards better discovery tools in a saturated content industry. 

In the past nine months alone, over 1,300 new titles have been added to Steam, which brought the total catalog to over 3,700 games. For indie devs with little to no money to spend on advertising, getting page traffic was difficult to say the least. By far the most interesting feature of the new update is the ability to follow “curators”. Curators can be any individual or organization with an opinion on games and wants to share them. Steam’s curator pages now offer a place to organize these recommendations and following a curator will also send their recommendations to your homepage. To become a curator, you need to create a group, or already be an officer or moderator in a group.

 

After less than a week, the update has been having a big impact as one Gamezone article notes:

Developers have been very open about how the update has affected them, taking to both their blogs and Twitter accounts to reveal the changes they’ve seen on their Steam Store Pages. Andrew Spearin, the Creative Director at New World Interactive took to his blog to reveal the affects of Steam’s Discovery Update on Insurgency (a tactical FPS). Spearin cited how much trafficInsurgency‘s Steam Store Page received prior to the update and post update, here are the numbers:

  • Sunday: 5,800 (pre-update)
  • Monday: 21,500 (post update)
  • Tuesday: 83,284 (post update)

While he did admit that the game was recommended by prominent figures (and Curators) in the gaming world, the spike in people visiting the store page is obvious. If you’re wondering just how visible Insurgency has become on Steam due to the update, the figure is “370% over night.” Spearin is not the only one discussing the potential that Steam’s update has allowed for indie devs.

Curating on mobile

If 3,700 games to sift through seems like a lot, consider that the Google Play Store now has 1,500,000 live apps. Even if only 1% of that were high quality games worth playing, that would still be a whopping 15,000 titles to sort through. With more apps added every day, discovery on both Andriod and iOS is becoming difficult for studios on shoestring budgets. So could a curator model much like Steam introduced be the answer? Korea has been experimenting with that very idea for a while now.

Afreeca TV is a popular video streaming service, though it is not well known outside of Korea. Given that live streaming popular online games like League of Legends and Starcraft are by far the most popular streams on the platform, it made sense when Afreeca TV dipped their feet into the mobile gaming pool last year with the introduction of the Gamecenter.

afreecatv1

 

Broadcasting Jockeys, known by the unfortunate acronym BJs, create “clans” where they can live stream their favorite mobile games, and even play with their fans. Their audience can reward them by buying “chocolate”, a premium currency on the platform that can be exchanged for items in the store, and even real cash. Users, in turn, earn chocolate by downloading games, making in-app purchases, and participating in the platform in other ways.

So far the platform is quite small and experimental, with just 178,000 Gamecenter subscribers, but engagement levels are high with the average user playing 5.5 games on the platform.

Is this the next move for Google and Apple?

With such great results for video and music services, and impressive possibilities being explored by Steam, could this be the future for mobile gaming as well?  This would work particularly well in Korea where word of mouth from trend-setting power-bloggers is a powerful marketing channel. Do you think this would work on a scale as big as Google Play and Apple? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think!

Game Spotlight: Mobile MOBA League of Masters Coming Soon

mobile-moba-leauge-of-masters

For hardcore gamers that love 16 hour DOTA sessions and weekend LAN benders, mobile has rarely offered anything worth a look. The Apple showcase last week showcased the first game that may really change all that with Super Evil Megacorp’s Vain Glory. But companies in Asia have already been working on bringing core, MOBA-style games to tablets. Korean-based developers, AppCross, are throwing their hat in the ring with their upcoming title, League of Masters. 

mobile-moba-leagueofmasters

The free-to-play title expands on the lessons learned from AppCross’ first mobile MOBA, Soul of Legends, improving on many of the mistakes made in the first of the series.

To start, rather than a map with a single lane, the League of Masters map has two lanes and a jungle. Each lane has three towers to destroy before reaching the nexus. The jungle includes two minion camps and a crystal, which when destroyed spawns a Cerberus for your team. The Cerberus minion is much larger and stronger than all other minions. It will stay in your lane until killed by the enemy, and can only be brought back by destroying the jungle crystal. But the most exciting features of the game are in the new multi-player options.

mobile-moba-voicechat

Players can now opt between three different PVP modes: 1 v 1, 2 v 2, or 3 v 3. League of Masters features voice chat for quick communication with teammates. There is also a clan system and e-sports mode for truly competitive players that want flaunt their MOBA dominance.

Rather than selling runes and skins, League of Masters takes a new approach to monetization. Players can purchase skins that come with stat boosts. The game is not slated for release until the end of 2014, but its one that MOBA fans should definitely look out for as the year winds down.

Send a tweet and spread the word about League of Masters!  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news on great indie games from Korea!

 

Will Apple’s New Products Make Waves in Korea?

apple-iwatch-release

apple-iwatch-release

For decades the tech world has been attempting to respond to one of the greatest problems ever to plague the first world: too much junk in our pockets.

This weeks announcements from Apple may have people forgetting about loose change problems for good. With the release of their new payment system this fall, Apple hope to have us tossing out our wallets (and the money in them) in exchange for digital purchasing and a brand new Apple Watch.

But how will these new products fare in Korea, where the products are not as fresh and face some stiff competition?

Apple Watch vs. Galaxy Gear 2

As the home of Samsung, its no suprise that Korea is an Android-centric market.  Any Apple product release is inevitably followed by a Samsung comparison, so here’s how the Apple Watch stacks up to the Galaxy Gear 2:

Apple Watch Galaxy Gear 2
Size 38mm and 42mm 41mm
Camera No 2mp
Sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart rate Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart rate
Connectivity Wifi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 4.0 Infrared Blaster and Bluetooth 4.0
Charging Through a magnetic attachment Micro-USB dock
Battery TBD 2-3 days of use
Price $349 $299

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to specs, the watches are not all that different. Apple Watch comes out the clear winner design wise, making Samsung’s Gear look cheap and clunky in comparison. But even the best designed smartwatch begs the question: is this a product anybody wants?

Aside from tech fans and early adopters, if Samsung’s track record is anything to go by, the answer is probably not. The first iteration of Galaxy Gear was a commercial flop. A short battery life and an identity crisis over whether to be a phone or a watch turned people away from buying it.

Add to the fact that only 9% of the Korean market is Apple based, and it’s unlikely we will see too many units moved in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Apple Pay vs Kakao Pay

apple-pay-iphone

Although Apple Pay will only be available in the US when it rolls out this October, it bears mentioning for the Korean market.

Consumers in the United States have not traditionally used their phones to pay for goods and services at retail stores.  Mainly because of the ubiquity of credit and debit cards and a lack of other, digital options. But Apple is trying to change that with their new pay service, which will integrate payments into your already existing Apple accounts and they’re making sure that you feel secure.

Usability wise, the system is simple. Since iTunes already has your credit card information, making your first payments is easy. You will be able to add additional cards by entering details yourself, or simply snapping a photo of the card you want to use.

The new fingerprint identification system available on iPhones adds an extra level of security not available on other digital payment systems, which typically require passcodes. Apple Pay will also not store credit card information on its servers. Instead, the information will be stored on a secure chip right on your device. And it’s not even your real card number. Apple will verify your card information with your bank, then store an alternative card number on the phone. That way when a merchant’s system is hacked, only the alternative number is compromised.

iphone-fingerprint-security

This is the type of tech that has the potential to do extremely well in Korea’s small Apple market where consumers have long been used to making payments with digital systems. Though apple will have some catching up to do by the time they finally release Apple Pay in Korea.

Last week Kakao made the announcement for its new pay service, Kakao Pay. The service is similar to Paypal and requires that customers type in their passwords to make payments. While this might seem like more of an inconvenience than that the fingerprint mechanism Apple uses, it’s a much simpler system compared to the complex authentication requirements currently used for online shopping in Korea.

The service has already launched for Android users and will be available for iOS in November. Kakao Pay users can register up to 20 credit or debit cards. BC Card Co., Hyundai Card Co. and Lotte Card Co. have already signed up to work with the platform and many more are expected to follow suit.

Kakao Pay will first offer users gift coupons that they can purchase, and extend its payment system over time to be used in major bookstores, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce.

Apple will have its work cut out for them in Korea should they decide to roll out their own payment system to compete in Korea. Kakao is used by over 90% of smartphone users, both Android and iPhone. If Kakao Pay is successful, it is unlikely that a large portion of the small Apple user base will make the switch by the time Apple decides to roll out its services here.

Leave a Comment:

What do you think about Apple’s new products? Will you buy any smartwatches or adopt the new payment system? Tell us what you think in the comments below!