Filipino firm pioneers 'social broadcasting' via Facebook game

23 May 2011

Filipino firm pioneers 'social broadcasting' via Facebook game
Local online gaming firm Inkstone introduces "World Racers" that resembles the reality show Amazing Race but conducted virtually on Facebook.

By Anna Valmero

TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA— For game development company Inkstone, “social broadcasting” is the next winning strategy to dominate Facebook games.

The game “World Racers” is developed by a seven-man Filipino team that aims to introduce Filipino online gamers to the new form of gameplay.

“Social broadcasting is a new concept in gaming. We took two of the biggest trends in media today: user-generated content and social networking and combined them,” said Allan Chou, managing director of local gaming development company Inkstone.

Chou likened the game to the widely popular “Amazing Race” TV show with a twist: teams are composed of two Facebook users will join a virtual race across the globe. Facebook users can view the race results and affect the game in favor of their preferred team, and there are online task instead of physical challenges.

“It's gonna be like TV on Facebook and we are proud that a Filipino company is the first to do this,” Chou said.

Chou said that Facebook's popularity in the Philippines - at 95 percent penetration among 29 milion Internet users - makes it wise for the company to pilot the game here.

Globally, there are 600 million users of Facebook.

As the seventh largest market for Facebook worldwide, the demographics of Facebook users in the country prompted Inkstone to launch the game here. Some 63 percent of Filipino users, age 18 to 34 years old with more than half of them women who are casual gamers,  makes them an ideal fit for the game, said Raymong Ong, director for finance and business development.

Paul Gadi, Inkstone technical director and senior developer, said his team started developing the game in December 2010 and beta testing is in its final stage during the middle of May.

Registration for the game is until May 29, with practice game set on June 2 to the second week of June. The race begins in the middle of June.

The race will be composed of mini-games that can be played in less than five minutes. Teams to finish the games with the fastest times will move on to the next level and teams who will be last to finish the game will be eliminated.

Each game can only be played once, so to register their best time, each team are encouraged to practice the game first before playing it to compete with other players. The whole game will also be recorded so a video of the game can be seen on Facebook, he said.

To promote their game to fans, each team can edit their video and create a unique content for their fans and friends to support by clicking the “Like” button. “Instead of just watching their friends play, fans have an active role in the race,” Gadi said.

Getting support from fans is important because fans can help their favorite teams to gain advantage over other teams by putting obstacles or time penalties to delay other teams from finishing the mini-games on time, Gadi said.

To earn from the game, Inkstone is planning to sell virtual goods that gamers can use to dress up their avatars or to gain advantage in the game by buying penalty times for other players. Fans on the other hand can buy credits to get viewer points and control the outcome of games.

Inkstone is planning to sell prepaid cards or enable racers to buy Facebook currency online to buy the virtual goods on the game. It is also considering advertisements on the game but that would be for the future when the game is scaled up to other countries.

“There are a lot of talented game developers in the Philippines and with a significant market here, it makes sense to introduce the game here and then introduce it to other countries as well,” Chou said.

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