Bee2gether: A Facebook Popularity Contest Game

About this time a month ago, social startup SparkyBee launched its first game, Sparky Words. As far as word games go it was pretty fun. Since then, the company has developed its second Facebook application, Bee2gether, which it describes as a relationship game intended to “reinvent your online social experience.”

Though it is described as a game, Bee2gether is really more like a compilation of standard social networking features intertwined with gaming mechanics. Players jump right in as the app breaks down your Facebook profile and uses its information for itself. From here, players can then work on their ultimate goal: To be the most popular user on their network.

Users are able to search for random Facebook users as well as friends that have also installed the game and mark them with a relationship status (assuming they accept your friend invite). Said status can be either friendly or romantic with each one leveling up by percentage until you take the relationship to the next level (i.e. romantic relationships range from just “flirting” to “sharing a toothbrush”).

In order to improve these relationships — and your popularity — you do what one would normally do in real life: have interactions. These consist of everything from uploading pictures or video, sending gifts, going on virtual dates or vacations, or even owning property together.

As weird as that last item might sound, the game does have a built-in virtual mall in which you can buy homes, cars, artwork, and jewelry for yourself and others. These virtual goods be bought using virtual currency (called Credits, but not Facebook Credits) and can be kept or sent as gifts. Unfortunately, this is where some of our first complaints about intuitiveness came into play.

Now, for the record, Bee2gether is still dubbed “beta,” so such issues are likely to change. Nevertheless, the virtual goods mall – as SparkyBee calls it – was not exactly easy to find. There’s no main menu icon for it. It was only discovered via a help tool that says what you should do next. Apparently, if you click on an existing relationship, too, that opens up that profile and has a link at the top to buy gifts as well, but even that seemed unnecessarily buried. Also, when gifts were purchased, all that could be found was a blurb saying you bought X, Y, and Z. They couldn’t be viewed anywhere. Considering buying virtual goods is often about personal expression, not being able to display them renders them a bit ineffective.

The company has also stated that the game is delivered upon a platform developed themselves, which is how they offer their mail system and virtual goods mall (which they also say can host games by other developers). We’re interested to see where that goes.

Another issue we stumbled upon is that the game has in-game mailboxes within it, but when you click them, there is no way to get back to the main page and a browser refresh was needed.

Beyond these complaints, everything else was just minor, beta, bugs here and there – nothing to write home about. Of course, Bee2gether does still raise the concern as to how effective the idea is. Frankly, it is a cool concept, and having all the core social networking features (friends, profiles, a sharing feed, gifts, etc.) enhanced with a some game play-like mechanics really does make everything more gratifying. However, one has to wonder how many people will migrate over to use an app that contains most of the features they already have on their Facebook homepage; even if they are a little more fun.

In the end, Bee2gether is a good idea from the creative standpoint, and the only real problems are with intuitiveness and unviewable virtual goods.