With hundreds of thousands of mobile games available on smartphones, innovating isn’t that easy. But Pocket Gems hopes to stand out from the crowd with a unique voice-based game that it is unveiling today.
The new game, All Talk, is different from the cute simulations (like Tap Zoo) that the San Francisco company has done before. With this title, you record your own voice to give a clue to the other player. You try to get the other player to guess a word, like “sugar” in the picture at right, without saying a bunch of related words such as “sweet” or “cane.”
The other player receives your 30-second voice recording, listens to it, and then tries to guess the word. Ben Liu, chief operating officer of Pocket Gems, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the idea for the title came from the company’s effort to make games that take advantage of the unique characteristics of mobile devices.
The game is a lot like the board game Taboo, and Liu cited that as one of the inspirations for the title. It features varying levels of difficulty in different content packs. You can send the message as a challenge to a friend or a stranger. Once they get the message, they can play it back and accept the challenge.
“We think there is an opportunity to take the specific inputs of a mobile device, such as voice, and create new gameplay and social interactions,” Liu said.
Pocket Gems tries to be a market leader by creating original titles based on its “mobile first” game strategy. That strategy has served it well since it had the No. 1 and No. 4 top-grossing apps in Apple’s iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) App Store in 2011. Pocket Gems now has 15 iOS apps and seven on Android. All told, the company has had more than 80 million downloads in its history. Liu believes that these numbers are impressive, but they still reflect that the mobile game market is in its early days.
“We believe the smartphone is the greatest gaming platform ever made,” he said.
The All Talk game will be the first one that the company releases that will come out on both iOS and Android at the same time. That reflects the growing importance of Android in the larger mobile market, Liu said. He expects the game to launch in mid to late July.
Rivals include Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Zynga, TinyCo, DeNA-Ngmoco, Digital Chocolate, Glu Mobile, Backflip Studios, and others. Pocket Gems has 12o employees, but Liu said that the company hopes to double the size of its engineering team by fall, largely by recruiting new college graduates. In December 2010, the company raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital and others.
Separately, Pocket Gems is also releasing Tap Pet Hotel on the Android platform. The game was the No. 4 top-grossing game on iOS.
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