YD Online's Angel's Choice app to help with iPhone discovery

Getting stuff discovered on the App Store is pretty tough, considering there are about 300,000 apps available. But there’s an app for that. YD Online is launching its Angel’s Choice app today at the DiscoveryBeat 2010 conference in San Francisco.

Angel’s Choice is a game with a venture capital theme, allowing you to invest in your favorite apps. If lots of other players also vote for your app, then the value of the app goes up. In effect, Angel’s Choice creates a user-generated top recommendations list.

Although it’s a game, you vote for real apps on the App Store and share your selections with your friends. That creates a way to get apps noticed via social connections. Since finding games is such a chore, YD Online decided to flip the problem on its head and make it fun, said Doyon Kim (pictured at bottom), vice president of business development for Korea-based YD Online, which has more than 100 million users for its online games overseas.

“We wanted to enter the U.S. mobile games market but found it was so crowded,” Kim said. “So we came up with a fun app that was also a discovery engine to help ourselves.”

It’s at the point where consumers just have too many choice and too few reliable ways to navigate them. Existing app recommendation services rely on user-generated reviews or ratings, which can be unreliable, biased and unquantifiable.

Angel’s Choice, on the other hand, challenges players to compete with their friends in earning a virtual currency, or Angel Dollars. The more valuable your portfolio grows, the more you rise in the leaderboards and the more status you get in the community. Since a user’s reputation is at stake when they make a recommendation for an app, they are more likely to honestly express their own opinions. The system holds each app reviewer accountable, resulting in more accurate voting.

“It works just like a stock market,” Kim said.

If you have more status, then your votes carry more weight. You can become a powerful influencer of the community and thus determine whether apps fall or rise in popularity. As you play the game, you earn experience points and rise through the ranks of your venture capital firm, from a lowly assistant to a managing partner.

Meanwhile, the data from all of the collective voting serves to surface the best content on the App Store, via a crowdsourced ratings system. The best apps are those that are most heavily invested in. Users will be able to buy apps easily from within the game. If a user winds up buying an app, then Apple will give YD Online a 5 percent affiliate revenue fee. That will generate revenue for YD Online from its free app.

Users can find apps by typing in an app’s name, taking an “investment challenge,” or viewing the apps that are filtered by Angel Point rankings, recent investments, or new apps. Users can also view the Angel’s Choice leaderboard to find out which players are making the best investments and are worth following. Users can also share their recent investment decisions on Facebook and Twitter.

YD Online is a publicly traded company in Korea. Founded in 2000, the company makes online community games for PC users. Its games include Pristontale1, Pristontale2, Club Audition1, Ace Online and Band Master. Angel’s Choice is the company’s first mobile game. Kim said the company plans to expand into the U.S. mobile games market further.

The company also plans to do an Android version. YD Online was founded in 1997 and has 200 employees. Kim’s U.S. office is in Mountain View, Calif. Rivals include Chomp and Appolicious. Similar stock market games include Hollywood Stock Exchange and Empire Avenue.

[Disclosure: YD Online is a sponsor at VentureBeat's DiscoveryBeat conference]

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