The former lead developer behind EA PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies is behind a new startup that ties real-world deals and purchases to gameplay.
Called Gimmie and backed by $200,000 from mobile incubator Tandem, the company lets gamers earn special points that can be redeemed for discounts on products like iPad cases and pillows. It’s kind of like a cross between the install networks, which give gamers virtual currency rewards if they watch ads or download other apps, and Kiip, which gives gamers coupons when they make in-game achievements.
While users play or take actions in a game like level up or buy virtual goods, they rack up more Gimmie points. Then they can go to an offer wall-like experience for real goods where they can get discounts. Like in-game offers, users can pick whatever products they want. Gimmie is currently in beta with ten mobile app developers and ten consumer product brands. It’s an HTML5-based offer wall, so it works across iOS and Android.
David Ng, the company’s chief executive, said he and co-founder Roy Liu came up with the idea while playing basketball.
“We thought it would be great if we could do a startup that could combine gaming with shopping,” he said. “We thought there must be a way we can make a real-world offer so easy that it’s kind of like a basketball layup or gimmie.”
Liu, who worked for EA PopCap for five years and was lead developer on Plants Vs. Zombies, left shortly after its acquisition by EA and joined Ng.
Gimmie faces more of a hurdle in making this two-sided market work. Unlike Flurry, Tapjoy and W3i, which mainly deal with developers as both publishers and advertisers, Gimmie will need to attract developers and consumer product brands. Kiip has had some success with this in recruiting brands like Sephora, Carl’s Jr. and PopChips, thanks to the hustle of its young founder Brian Wong. Tapjoy has also expanded its advertiser portfolio to brands in recent months, but that was only after it secured a strong network of developer advertisers.
However, now that consumers are reportedly spending more time in mobile apps than on the web, brands are bound to pay more attention to them as an advertising medium and may be willing to take a bet on a relatively small startup as a partner.
For now, Gimmie is free to both developers and advertisers. The presumable business model here would be some sort of affiliate model where Gimmie and the developer displaying the promotion split a fee every time a consumer makes a transaction. But Ng wouldn’t give more specifics.