AltEgo has recently emerged as a cross-platform 3D avatar pipeline solution that allows players to integrate their in-game avatar into all parts of their digital life — Twitter, email, mobile and social games. It also could serve as a shortcut for developers looking to go cross-platform thanks to some services AltEgo provides to developer partners.
The way it works is AltEgo stores all avatar and avatar items within its system along with a marketplace feature. Game developers can import all their art — meshes, character models, animations, etc. — to the system. Once there, the developer can set parameters for individual avatar items; for example, making a set of fairy wings a giftable item or setting a turkey hat to be a limited edition item for sale. The developer can then use AltEgo to bring the avatar and avatar items into any platform on which the developer’s game runs, be it mobile or social. Any change a player makes to their avatar in-game is reflected across all platforms (except email) instantaneously.
AltEgo CEO Seth Gerson walked us through a product demo that spanned a social game, a blog, and an email thread. Using his wife’s Goth-themed avatar, he purchased a hat in-game that immediately appeared on the avatar’s head when he exited the store screen. Clicking over to her blog and refreshing reflected the updated avatar. Email was a slightly different matter with the avatar not updating until he’d actually sent a new email.
“The reason for that is we want [the avatar] to match your emotion [at the time the email was sent],” Gerson explained. “Like if you send an email that says ‘I’m happy,’ but you just bought a fist-pump animation, that wouldn’t make sense.”
The value for developers goes beyond essentially renting a 3D pipeline and avatar marketplace as AltEgo is currently brokering deals with different platforms. Though not ready to reveal the extent of their partnerships just yet, Gerson did confirm partnerships with social network hi5 and with social game publisher 6waves. Additional announcements are expected toward the end of the summer.
What will be interesting to see is how indie and mid-market social game developers can make use of AltEgo to reduce development and user acquisition costs. Everybody wants to be cross-platform these days, but not many existing developers have the resources to hire mobile engineers or HTML5 programmers.