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Stu Sky Thinking: Do we really need Twitter in our mobile games?

Micro-bragging in the iPhone age
Product: True | Genre: True
True Multiformat, thumbnail 1
According to Tory leader David Cameron, the trouble with Twitter is that “too many twits might make a twat”. Which is uncannily similar to what we thought last time we accidentally tuned into TV coverage of the Conservative Party conference.

Dave’s not keen on Twitter, but should you be? Specifically, does it have an important role to play in the mobile games world? We think it does, albeit with caveats. Here’s why.

An increasing number of iPhone games are letting players log in to their Twitter accounts to tweet high scores, achievements and challenges.

ngmoco has made it a core part of its Plus+ community, for example, for games like Star Defense and WordFu, while Twitter is also part of Firemint’s Flight Control and Real Racing.

It’s a simple but powerful social feature that’s not just about bragging your latest high score, but about letting your friends know what you’re playing. Perfect for Twitter’s 140-character limit per tweet, as long as you’re in full control of how often you post - nobody wants to spam their friends every time they play a game.

There’s an argument that the Twitter hype is misplaced, and that actually iPhone developers would be better off focusing on Facebook Connect. Geeks and media types are on Twitter, but everyone’s on Facebook.

It’s probably true, but this isn’t an either/or decision for developers. Facebook Connect and Twitter can sit side-by-side in an iPhone game - and don’t forget that plenty of geeks and media types own iPhones or iPod touches.

If you’re a keen Twitterer, you’ll appreciate the chance to log in from within a game and tweet your achievements. If you’re not, well, you don’t have to use it.

But there are other good reasons to get into Twitter as a mobile gamer: the hundreds of developers who are using the service. Pretty much every mobile developer and publisher you can think of has at least one Twitter feed, and many have several.

They’re chatting about their upcoming games, tweeting snippets of information and even links to new screenshots and videos. They’re hosting giveaways and competitions - including regular promo codes for the first followers to reply (US-only, sadly).

If you’re interested in what mobile game developers are up to, well, they’re on Twitter (and YouTube, and on their own blogs, it should be said). Increasingly, if you want to read about a new game first, it’ll be there - Gameloft in particular is making a habit of announcing new iPhone titles on its Twitter feed.

It’s easy to get carried away with Twitter hysteria, or react against it so violently that you end up siding with David Cameron in what we’ll mischievously call the twat camp.

Twitter isn’t a revolution: it’s just a new tool to communicate with people. But when that communication can be based around your mobile gaming, or on getting early info from developers - not to mention the chance to talk back to them - it’s clear it has a role to play in the mobile games world.

Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge 19 August 2009
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