Ex-PopCap Developer Looking for New Ways to Monetize Mobile Games

Free apps today are primarily monetized through advertising or virtual goods.

But one of PopCap’s original developers, Roy Liu, believes he has come up with an alternative. Gimmie, based in San Francisco, has created an incentives platform for mobile app developers.

It launches today with 10 mobile app developers in its beta program.

It works like this: In return for using the app, a player can earn points which can be redeemed for real-world products. It’s sort of like a traditional arcade, where players earn tickets that can be redeemed for candy and toys, but instead of gumballs and baseball cards, Gimmie primarily doles out game downloads and other mobile content.

Gimmie is also announcing today that it has raised $200,000 in funding from Tandem, an incubator in Silicon Valley.

Liu, who was one of the lead developers on Plants vs. Zombies for PopCap before it was purchased by Electronic Arts, co-founded the company with CEO David Ng.

The idea is not so different from other in-game incentive programs, which ask users to fill out a survey or download a different game in exchange for free virtual goods or other benefits.

Those types of programs, served by companies like TapJoy and others, have been immensely successful — although more recently, they have been received poorly by Apple and others because they can affect the most popular games list.

Gimmie believes what it is doing is different because it rewards users with items outside of the app for performing actions inside it.

Other companies are also trying to come up with alternative advertising platforms for mobile games. In games, banner ads are often completely ineffective because people are focused on playing the game, and don’t take the time to read the ad or leave the page to investigate it further.

A Chicago-based start-up called Tap.me is creating an ad network for virtual goods, which can gain advertisers on a broad scale for generic items, such as being able to jump higher or more energy across many games.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik