News & Blog

2011 predictions reviewed…

Posted on January 10th, 2012

Well it’s that time of year for predictions (coming soon) and of course looking back over the past 12 months to see how well I did in estimating the future…

At the start of 2011 I made 8 predictions for 2011 and the crossover area of gaming and marketing, with a sprinkle of social thrown in…

I’m going to rate each out of 10 points for accuracy and then give an overall grade for my efforts.

1. In 2011 there will be a game created as part of a marketing campaign that is so successful a port is made to one of the major consoles.
Well this isn’t a promising start, I’ve not been able to find any examples of a game created for a marketing campaign that made the leap to console.

There could be many reasons for this, and although I don’t have any data to back up my claims, I mostly suspect it’s because advergames simply still aren’t as fun as dedicated games. Many brands still feel that when creating online content, forcing through business messages is more important than creating excellent and engaging content.

Whilst your brand is important we often find ourselves pushing clients to tone down the business message. Make a game that’s fun first and it’ll get your message out there.

SCORE: 0/10

2. Facebook will become less important. (But only just)
Depending on who you read, either Facebook is actually losing users, or maybe just it’s growth is slowing

Either way, it’s a good but not another fantastic year for the guys in Palo Alto.

The big disappointment in the social network space was Google plus, launched in June it quickly had press clamouring to tout the “Facebook killer” as the next big thing. Very quickly it had users in the tens of millions, but without ALL their friends and their content on the network users very quickly drifted back to the familiar blue and white of Facebook.

Score 8/10

3. Marketing agencies will continue to see memes on the web and copy them badly for major campaigns.

There have been several times throughout the year I’ve seen adverts and though to myself “oh that’s from xyz” but in my hectic schedule forgot to copy any of these down. Now it’s review time I can only find international examples …

Toshiba outright steals an idea
Chevrolet copies a popular and creative photo blog
McDonald’s “borrows” a joke from a 2009 sketch.

Technically I think this should be a 10/10 score, but due to my own disorganization I’ll mark myself down for noy being able to provide any UK examples…

Score 7/10

4. ePaper will appear on a cereal box

Technically, ePaper didn’t appear on any cereal boxes in 2011, unless it went very unreported.

However breakfast cereals continued to be a canvas for pushing marketing innovation with technical demos such as the illuminating box or more conservatively the use of QR codes as part of a campaign by Kelloggs

3/10

5. Multiplatform competitive advergames

Well this one is a joy to write about as it was 100% accurate and the best example of the year was something we were actually involved in creating. (It hadn’t been discussed at the time of making last years predictions – honestly!)

Doritos launched a campaign over the summer around the Dip Desperado concept. This involved an integrated campaign across all media including in store and on unit promotions, driving users to play the game.

The game was available either as flash through facebook or as a free standalone game download for Android or iPhone.

Each device used the same mechanics so that users would compete against each others scores agnostic of which platform they were using.

I’m not able to provide exact figures but downloads on each mobile platform was measured in the “hundreds of thousands” in the UK alone.

Score 10/10

6. Buzzword of 2011 will be “cloud”

Well cloud was certainly everywhere in 2011 with it being a core part of microsoft’s advertising campaign and many other companies like Amazon and dropbox pushing their wares.

Of course you know something is mainstream though when Apple gets involved. And what more original name could they have picked than iCloud. Yes, hosting your files on a server is now within reach of the man on the street thanks to a shiny logo and yearly fee (Even though their top offering of 55Gb is smaller than the space needed fora full iPhone 4s 64Gb)

Although “cloud” was the buzzword of the year, it thankfully wasn’t as prevalent as I expected so -3 points for what turns out to be a saving grace!

Score 7/10

7. Advergames that integrate as part of larger campaigns.

The doritos campaign mentioned in prediction 5 certainly pushed the advergame as a core part of a whole campaign. The journey took users from television adverts to purchase products in store. These crisps and dips then funneled users to play games on their mobile or online.

By entering unique codes from the crisps or dips, in combination with their best scores they were able to win prizes either for being the best player, or as part of a daily prize draw.

Whilst this wasn’t quite in line with my original prediction of users crossing from games into the real word there have been several examples of social media content being integrated into “live campaigns”

Porsche prints facebook names onto a car.

Ellie Goulding inserts titter users into her dynamic music video. (Chrome or Safari required to view this one)

Aviva projects photos onto buildings as part of a “feel good” PR campaign.

So the elements were all there in 2011, they just didn’t quite overlap as predicted!

Score 8/10

8. The last quarter of 2011 will see more Android apps downloaded than iPhone.

It’s still to early to have all the data for this one, but I’m going to call it a win for me.

By December android was calling a rise in downloads at a growth rate of 1 billion apps downloaded a month. While Apple were claiming “over 1 billion” a month. So the figures look very similar, but when Decembers numbers are in I’d be confident the quarter 4 totals are a victory for Android.

Score 10/10

Summary and conclusion

The numbers speak for themselves really – 53/80 or 66% accuracy in predicting the future. Based on some of these being rather “out there” at the time of writing I’d say it’s a rather good result for MBXGames!

The big question is can we repeat this success with a good look to the future? In the next few days I’ll be making some more bold assertions as to what we can expect over 2012 in the social/gaming/marketing world!




Tapass is now FREE!

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Press Release – September 16, 2011.

Banned iPhone game is now FREE on Android!
MBXGames have removed the price tag from  their recently released game ‘Tapass’.
It is now FREE for the Android Market.
The Android game can be downloaded from here:
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.mbxgames.android.tapass

It’s a fun and cheeky ‘Simon Says’ inspired game. You have to tap the rear-ends of the girls in the correct order.
There are 52 glamour model images (or ‘awards’) to collect.
A recent mention at YogTrailers describes the game as having hours of playtime;)
http://youtu.be/WKSdigwortc
Screenshots and a video demo are available here:
http://www.mbxgames.com/games/tapass
View the Facebook page here:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/TapAss/98970446045
About Tapass
After a 6 month battle during 2009-2010 MBXGames finally succeeded in bringing the cheeky game to the Apple AppStore masses. This success was short lived when the iTunes terms and conditions were altered, restricting ALL adult themed content from being featured on the AppStore.
Of course, there are no such restrictions on the Android Market and the launch went ahead without a hitch.
About MBXGames
Founded in 2007, MBXGames have produced games for web and mobile devices . Tapass is one of the many games that the developers have published for themselves but MBXGames are more commonly known for producing web and mobile games for major brands including Coca Cola, Pepsi, Walkers, Doritos, Adidas, Nickelodeon, ITV, Aviva, EA Games, Activision, Lucas Arts, UEFA, Betfair and Virgin Mobile.  Visit http://www.mbxgames.com for more information.




Tapass – Android Version Released

Posted on August 5th, 2011

Tapass, a ‘Simon-Says’ inspired memory game with a cheeky twist, has gained millions of game plays as a Flash and iPhone game since being released in 2009 by MBXGames.

Now, for only $1.00(USD) Android owners can download this cheeky fun game via the Android Marketplace. Tapass features video footage of four glamour models shaking their asses. Your task is to watch and remember the order and then tap out the same sequence. There are 52 full-screen glamour model images to collect.

Screenshots and a video demo are available here:
http://www.mbxgames.com/games/tapass

The Android game can be downloaded from here:

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.mbxgames.android.tapass

View the Facebook page here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/TapAss/98970446045

Due to Apple’s strict guidelines Tapass is no longer available on iTunes but now MBXGames have released a completely uncensored version for the Android Market.

The controversial app caused a 6 month debate between MBXGames and the Apple iTunes approval committee.  Eventually, MBXGames succeeded in launching the game on iTunes. Many modifications were implemented to satisfy the strict ethical guidelines imposed by Apple. This included a name change to “Bongo Babes” and instead of tapping on the butts, the user had to tap on bongo drums. MBXGames’ victory was short lived as Apple changed their guidelines in the first quarter of 2010 which restricted any sexually explicit apps from appearing on AppStore.

Tapass is one of the many games that the developers have published for themselves but MBXGames are more commonly known for producing web and mobile games for major brands including Coca Cola, Pepsi, Walkers, Doritos, Adidas, Nickelodeon, ITV, Aviva, EA Games, Activision, Lucas Arts, UEFA, Betfair and Virgin Mobile.

Visit http://www.mbxgames.com for more information.




Games as a passive medium – does the storytelling rival Hollywood?

Posted on March 14th, 2011

Admin note:

This post is by Guest writer Liz Patterson.

Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of MBXGames

I am not a big fan of computer games, I never have been. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have anything against them, but I don’t understand why they command such enormous amounts of people’s time and attention.

I’m what’s called a casual gamer, I play games, mainly on my phone, something like Angry Birds and I do love my Nintendo DS. I tend to favour puzzle games rather than platform games, I like to solve problems and enjoy games like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton. I have absolutely no patience with games where you have to play the same bit over and over again because you didn’t jump or shoot or whatever at quite the right time.

My only experience of shooting games was a brief but memorable encounter with Goldeneye when I was a teenager but that was mainly due to the fact I loved the film. However once I realised how poor I was at running and shooting at the same time I quickly grew tired of getting killed.

Now though I am starting to come round, my partner plays Call of Duty a lot – all of them. I can’t begin to explain how infuriating I use to find hearing Kiefer Sutherland repeatedly announcing about the loss or capture of a flag. There were times when I would cheerfully have thrown the wretched thing out of the window, so I was less than enthused when he received the latest Black Ops game for Christmas. He started to play it on Boxing Day after I had overdosed on festive TV and a funny thing happened – I actually started to enjoy watching it. Not the multiplayer version but the actual story of the game. It probably helps that the initial part was set in the 60′s a period of history I have an interest in and the other bonus is that my boyfriend it very good at games and so he doesn’t normally have to keep re-playing the same bit 30 times. But putting all that aside the story was really good and gripping, more so than many films I have seen.

The writers had obviously spent quite some time researching the period and twisting events that took place. The writer of Call of Duty Black Ops, Craig Houston spent time talking to veterans and had advisers from both Russian and US Special Forces. There is as much if not more research going into game script development as there is for films.

In fact the gap between big Hollywood blockbusters and computer games is closing fast, a lot of Hollywood writers, art directors and musicians work on games now in addition to the well known actors that voice many of the characters. The industries can be mutually beneficial to each other and help raise the others profile as well as sharing new technologies. The new motion capture technique used for the eagerly awaited LA Noire game, coming out in May, will undoubtedly be used in future movies.

LA Noire looks so realistic, the motion capture has allowed every little nuance of the character to be secured and the story is based on real life cases from the period. If it were a film I would be booking my seat to see it opening weekend! I have pre-ordered it for my boyfriend as a present and I actually can’t wait to sit and watch him play it. A few years ago that would have been considered quite sad, but I don’t care, I think it will be the most entertaining thing on our TV all summer.




Experience Branding : Apple gets it right.

Posted on March 7th, 2011

Apple opened its flagship UK store in Covent Garden last summer. It’s a Grade II listed building with the prestigious address of 1 The Piazza, an impressive and expensive piece of real estate.

But it’s almost empty.

When visiting the store, the one thing that is immediately obvious is how sparse and almost empty it looks. There are tables of iPads, iPods, iPhones and Mac laptops with the Mac Desktops around the walls, but the shop is incredibly spacious. It almost looks like they don’t have enough items to fill it, which clearly isn’t the case; in fact there is probably more staff than products on display.

Although it seems mad to buy such an expensive piece of property and not fill it to its newly designed rafters, it is all part of the Apple experience. Apple’s designs are clean, minimal and easy to use and they carry this notion through to all their stores. The customer service is so exceptional, even Mary Portas wouldn’t fault it.

Apple understands branding and treating its customers like their special. The Apple experience starts before you buy.

The store opened to a fanfare of publicity with people queuing for over 24 hours just to be the first in the door and to buy exactly the same products that they could have easily bought else where without the discomfort of sleeping on the streets of London. There were no new products being launched or even upgrades of existing products, Apple customers just wanted the kudos of being the first customer in their new shiny store.

It is Apple’s 300th store and it’s largest to date. A gorgeous and striking building, it has been lovingly restored to its former glory with English Oak and York Stone and employs 300 staff. According to Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, Ron Johnson its their “most historic store”.

Like them or loathe them Apple have got the customer experience spot on, every part of their company has been meticulously thought out and flows seamlessly. Even if you would never buy anything from Apple it is worth just popping into their store in Covent Garden even if it is just to admire the architecture.




Games and technology aren’t just for the young.

Posted on February 14th, 2011

Nintendo always do well out our family at Christmas time and last year was no exception. We bought my parents in law a Wii, a Wii Fit Plus and of course a balance board. Although technically OAP’s, they’ve been gradually working their way into the gaming world over the past few years having never shown an interest before. Most surprising was last year my mother in law actually asking for a Nintendo DS, having been persuaded by the advert with Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters.

Again, Nintendo’s advertising was one of the reasons we bought the Wii fit this year as she had seen an advert with Helen Mirren and decided if that was what was keeping her in such good shape she would like a go!

Exercise was our main reason behind buying them a Wii, like many people of their generation they have never been big on keeping fit and staying in good physical shape. They have had a few health scares in the past couple of years but due to self consciousness were not about to join a gym or exercise class. This is the brilliance of the Wii; they picked it up almost immediately and weren’t embarrassed to exercise in their own home. My mother in law had a few problems working out where to point the controller but quickly overcame that and they are both happily doing 30 minutes of exercise each day. This is a huge achievement as before it has been near impossible to get them to do anything physical. My mother in law now cheerfully chats away to her virtual fitness trainer and he even named him!

They are also starting to play arcade games that we have lent them, in particular BoomBlocks which was introduced to us by a friend’s 5 year old son. This displays the broad appeal of games today – the same game can be enjoyed and played only for fun by people 70 something years apart. That’s quite an achievement and progression from only a few years ago.

I think having had the DS has helped my parents in law, as they have become used to the Nintendo interface but it is not just Nintendo products that the “more senior” generation are finding easy to use…

We bought my Dad a kindle for Christmas as he has far too many books lying around. Like most people he was initially sceptical, not wanting to lose the “bookness” of books, but after about 5 minutes of instruction he can’t put it down. Without any problem he’s set up his kindle account and is merrily buying books, many of which are obscure titles that he’s finding much cheaper than buying a physical copy. His main interest is history, not known for its slim line editions, so there is a lot less weight for him to carry around!

On the whole technology and the user experience is getting easier, the VCR my parents in law had for 15 years constantly flashed 00:00 and I don’t think they were able to programme it to record once. However now they record programmes on Sky Plus and watch things on iPlayer without any long phone calls trying to explain step by step how to use it.

In their own ways I get the feeling that Nintendo, Apple and Amazon now  focus on the customers first, user experience second and then make the hardware and software fit around that.

There is still a long way to go with desktop and laptop computers as many of friends over the age of 55 still find them hard to navigate.

Although Apple iOS products seem to be easier for older people to get to grips with, my father in law was able to use an iPhone and play Angry Birds quite quickly, even though he swore blind he hated things like that and couldn’t see the point of the iPhone.

I don’t think I will ever get my parents into World of Warcraft, nor can I see my father in law with a headset playing Call of Duty but computer games are no longer the time wasters of the young!*

*Yes I still consider myself young




2011 – Our games, marketing and social media predictions.

Posted on January 7th, 2011

It’s that time of year when everyone decides to make some predictions about where they think the markets and industries are going.

We’re a niche company so I’ll make some guesses about a wide variety of topics and then this time next year come back and mark myself on each of these to see how clairvoyant (or knowledgeable) I am.

I’ve tried to steer away from the obvious suggestions that come up every year: “twitter will continue to be big” “online advertising spend will increase over 2010″ – Yawn, who wants to read that!

Tell us what you think and if we’re idiots for these suggestions…

1. In 2011 there will be a game created as part of a marketing campaign that is so successful a port is made to one of the major consoles.

Everyone and their grandmother seems to have a game capable device in their pocket these days. The phenomenal success of Angry Birds on the iPhone (and latterly Android) is now seeing the game ported to consoles such as wii and xBox – this will fuel a rise in traditional non-gamers buying consoles as they follow the game brands they have already fallen in love with.

There are already examples of successful marketing breaking out to commercial products with those damn meerkats from Compare the Market

2. Facebook will become less important. (But only just)

OK now I won’t go as far as to say Facebook is dead, but 2011 will see a shift of users to less well known and smaller by design social networks.

2010 saw Facebook become less “cool” as it was somewhere your parents could now be found, and they had a fair share of privacy issues that saw some users drift away.

I expect this trend to continue in 2011 although it won’t significantly impact their numbers. 2011 is the year of stagnation for Facebook.

(Bonus prediction – we’ll see the next big thing in social networking appear in 2011, but may not realise it until 2012)

3. Marketing agencies will continue to see memes on the web and copy them badly for major campaigns.

I have a completely unsupported theory that most creative marketing is actually borne from ideas generated by idiots people mucking about for fun.

The number of times I’ve seen a new advert on Television and thought – ah that’s a copy of something I saw a few months ago online.

Tiltshift, treadmills, Cats and Magical Trevor it’s all been done before.

4. ePaper will appear on a cereal box

Electronic paper (the screen used on devices such as Kindle) has come down so much in price that it will be given away on a cereal box, possible as an interactive game, or possibly in conjunction with a hidden code for online use.

We’ve already seen it used in esquire’s 75th anniversary magazine but I predict it will be used as part of an integrated campaign and literally given away in 2011.

5. Multiplatform competitive advergames

All games in recent years appear to have been created on one platform and then if successful ported to others, e.g. a successful flash game appears in a crippled format on an iPhone.

Each version has it’s own high score or social features with no cross over.

In 2011 we will see a game that appears on both Android and iOS (possibly in flash as well) where users can compete against each other regardless of the platform each person is using.

6. Buzzword of 2011 will be “cloud”

Throughout 2010 undoubtedly the buzzword has been social (although it probably was 2009′s buzzword as well!). In the last year though, we’ve seen the term “cloud computing” rising in it’s use, often by people who don’t really understand it’s meaning and apply it to any Software As A Service (SaaS), or web app or hosting.

Expect throughout 2011 the prefix of cloud to be applied to everything. We’ll see “Cloud social”, “cloud workers”, “cloud branding”, “cloud conversations”.

By Christmas you’ll be sick of clouds.

7. Advergames that integrate as part of larger campaigns.

This is more of a wish on our part. Advergames are nearly always seen as a bolt on to existing campaigns, you know the sort of thing – wow we’ve had a really well received television advert, lets make a game out of it.

I’d like to see a game being truly part of a campaign. Imagine a television advert that prompts users to download a game on their smartphone. Playing the game releases more information that gives the user additional insight into the meaning of a follow up tv slot. Make that person feel special, that they are part of a small group that really “got” the ad conceptually.

Or perhaps a web based game that as part of the setup lets you create avatars, then the highscorers for the game have their avatars used in poster campaigns (these could be geo-targetted to put up posters where the winners will see them).

Gaming is the largest entertainment industry. Make it part of your campaign, not an “as well as”.

8. The last quarter of 2011 will see more Android apps downloaded than iPhone.

2010 saw the Android platform outsell iPhone in terms of units sold. That’s hardly surprising given the cost difference and choice in number of handsets running Android compared to Apple’s flagship product.

However the number of apps paid for on iOS devices continues to outstrip Android as users of iPhones are both more used to paying for content and have much less friction in buying apps than Android users.

This year expect that trend to be reversed. Amazon have just announced their own app store which will make it so much easier to purchase, and I expect them to act as gatekeepers, much like Apple in only allowing good quality apps in.

So that’s it for 2011 predictions, yes there’s only 8 – even though lists usually are 10 strong, but I don’t want to make guesses that I don’t believe have a >70% chance of coming true.

Anyone have any other predictions?




Welcome to 2011, MBXGames is growing.

Posted on January 6th, 2011

It’s been a little while since our last update due to the expanding workload in 2010, but following a slight restructure and refocus here at MBXGames we should be posting thoughts, rants and news on a much more regular basis.

Our capacity has increased here so we can create more games in the same space of time, but we’re focusing on quality even more to ensure that your campaigns get better results for the same cost!

If you or your clients have got any speculative work you’d like to chat over, drop us a line: enquiries@mbxgames.com

Happy New Year!




Flash to iPhone ports blocked!

Posted on April 9th, 2010

Before yesterdays release of the iPhone OS 4 SDK it was widely known that Adobe’s next version of Flash was going to include an “export to iPhone” option – this was the main back of the box bullet point.

Apple have now updated the developers Terms to state:

” Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”
This effectivly blocks the new development from Adobe and forbids users to create games in flash and export them to the iPhone platform.

Many developers, especially flash devs who want to get into the iPhone market without learning new skills are up in arms about this and “Apple’s evil closed system”

I think it’s a smart move by Apple…

1. They won’t have to deal with a dozen crappy tween animation apps for every good/great one.
2. They won’t have to deal with script kids hassling them about “you are teh gay for rejecting my App! It’s awesome lol”
3. Keeping the bar raised for entry means that developers must be at least fairly competent and so (sh)/(c)ould understand Apples UX guidelines.
4. It stops people developing for 2+ platforms at once – i.e. Android or win mobile. Single development, targeting multiple devices often water down the experience as it caters to the lowest common denominator.
5. It’s a win for Apple and a win for it’s users. The only people who get screwed around are developers and we all know we’re whores who’ll work for whichever technology is exciting and has a paying audience.

Screws Adobe and CS5 badly though.




Apple, sex and Bongo Babes – why we’re not upset.

Posted on March 15th, 2010

A few weeks ago Apple removed many existing apps from their iPhone store. These were pretty much all related to sexual content in some way.

It was a highly publicized move with a lot of press coverage and many many developers complaining about the unfair treatment.

Unsurprisingly our app/game Bongo Babes was one of those affected and pulled from the store. Thankfully this wasn’t one of our main income generators so we didn’t feel the effects as strongly as some developers.

In fact, I’d almost say we’re not too bothered, it’s possibly even a good thing for MBXGames for many reasons:

  • * We developed the app to get experience of Objective-C
  • * We had a showcase piece on the iPhone allowing us to confidently offer it as a service to clients.
  • * We specifically chose a topic we knew would be hard to get into the app store – this meant we experienced the full pain and hoops of a difficult submission process to Apple.
  • * We ran the app for most of it’s life at various price points and could measure the effect on sales.
  • * The final few weeks before it was pulled we made the app free and downloads increased a hundred fold. For advergame type software, “free” is clearly the way forward to get your brand in front of as many users as possible.
  • * Bongo Babes was hacked and appeared on torrent sites within a few days – we now know how to raise the bar slightly higher to avoid this for a longer period after launch.
  • * Following it’s removal, we’re looking at the jailbreak scene and maybe releasing on there – just to see what else we can learn from this one piece of software…
  • * We had fun making it.

We always knew it may not have ever been accepted, and once it had, it may be pulled – that’s part of the very restrictive set of rules Apple makes you agree to when you sign up.

I may not agree on a personal level with the way Apple is cleaning out the store and removing anything adult related, but I can see from a business case why they are. I’ll post more thoughts on that and what Apple should really do, in the next few days.




More Posts...

2011 predictions reviewed…
Posted on January 10th, 2012

Tapass is now FREE!
Posted on September 16th, 2011

Tapass – Android Version Released
Posted on August 5th, 2011

Games as a passive medium – does the storytelling rival Hollywood?
Posted on March 14th, 2011

Experience Branding : Apple gets it right.
Posted on March 7th, 2011

Games and technology aren’t just for the young.
Posted on February 14th, 2011

2011 – Our games, marketing and social media predictions.
Posted on January 7th, 2011

Welcome to 2011, MBXGames is growing.
Posted on January 6th, 2011

Flash to iPhone ports blocked!
Posted on April 9th, 2010

Apple, sex and Bongo Babes – why we’re not upset.
Posted on March 15th, 2010