Its first iOS title, a companion app to a Facebook game It Girl, didn’t quite work out. But the company has shifted strategy: it’s now launching a standalone, new app today called Top Girl (which is completely separate from It Girl). The app was also built by a separate, dedicated mobile studio, which is different from an earlier restructuring the company tried in the last year where it scattered mobile developers across studios.
“This isn’t a game that we ported over,” said Blair Hamilton, the company’s head of mobile. “It Girl was a companion app that we did as an experiment to see how much of our Facebook audience is on iOS.”
The premise is similar. The player’s avatar works at a modeling agency where they earn income, which they can then spend on clothing for work or for going out. If they go to one of the clubs, they get a choice of a couple different guys who they can flirt with or buy a drink. Stronger, more expensive drinks boost the chance that the virtual boy will reciprocate. And if they become the player’s boyfriend, they can kiss him, buy him drinks or go on dates.
“There’s a pocket of female gamers that seem to be underserved,” Hamilton said. “Our thinking is that that same group exists on mobile so we wanted to go after that opportunity.”
Like other mobile-social games, it’s a free app that monetizes solely through the sale of a premium virtual currency, which can be used to buy additional clothing or drinks. Players can also upgrade and customize their avatars with new clothing.
One of the most interesting aspects of Top Girl is that it lacks a connection to the Facebook platform for now — which is a fascinating choice considering that Crowdstar has been dependent on Facebook as a social gaming company. Instead, Top Girl uses OpenFeint, the mobile social gaming network that GREE recently bought for $104 million.
“We wanted to try platforms other than Facebook and diversify our strategy with different platforms and partners,” Hamilton said.
This choice, of course, doesn’t preclude Crowdstar from adding Facebook later. It’s just another interesting sign that social gaming companies, which were once bound at the heart to the Facebook platform, are now looking elsewhere on Android and iOS.
While many social gaming companies got off to a rough start on iOS, they’ve gradually been improving. Zynga now has three titles in the top ten on the iOS highest-grossing list, while Playdom’s City of Wonder has been able to maintain a top 50 ranking.