Booyah’s MyTown, a mobile game that’s like Monopoly for the real world, has zoomed past 800,000 users and is accumulating 3.5 to 4 million check-ins a day.
That momentum makes it more than double the size of Foursquare’s reported 360,000-person user base, but shy of Loopt’s 3 million users.
Compared to other competitors, MyTown is more like a classic game that has location elements, rather than a social network that happens to have gaming incentives like badges and mayorships. In MyTown, you can “buy” real places in the game like your local coffee shop. If you manage them properly and upgrade them from time to time, you can earn rent and amass a virtual real estate empire.
Booyah CEO Keith Lee, a gaming veteran behind franchises like Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III, attributes MyTown’s growth to a few key points. The company is aggressively focused on optimizing the first 15 to 30 seconds of the game. It’s quick to load and there’s only one option for a user’s first move — the check-in, which is a way of sharing your location temporarily when you arrive at a place like a restaurant or coffee shop. They’ve found that if they can get a player to Level 2 of the game, they’re almost guaranteed to get to the end of Level 20.
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Booyah also provides the user with constant, ongoing feedback. Once a player “owns” a location like their local pizza place, MyTown gives them ongoing notifications usually within the next hour or day about the volume of visitors their location is attracting. It also helped that they reached the Top 25 list for free apps in the iTunes store and then maintained momentum from there.
Location-based services like Foursquare and MyTown are in a race to accumulate users and offer unique value-adds that make them loyal to their network. Initially, Foursquare attracted a lot of attention because it helped popularize the check-in. But what’s become clear over the last six months is that the check-in is now a commodity — it’s a ubiquitous feature that has popped up everywhere from Yelp to perhaps Facebook in the future.
It’s now about staying one step ahead in the game, by acquiring partnerships with brands and marketers, or in MyTown’s case, offering unique gameplay to keep users loyal and to benefit from network effects. MyTown says that nearly 40 million virtual goods are consumed through the game each week.
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