Digital Chocolate Creates New Virtual Goods Platform

logo_digitalChocolateBack in May, Trip Hawkins, founder of Digital Chocolate (not to mention Electronic Arts), made the comment that the way to monetize iPhone games was with virtual goods. Well, it looks like that statement has taken life, as the company has just announced the creation of a new virtual goods platform and game project, NanoStars.

What is most curious, however, is that NanoStars does not look to feature virtual goods in the traditional sense (weapons, furniture, clothing, etc.). The project is slated to revolve around 100 virtual characters that people can buy and use in a myriad of games titles, the first of which, NanoVerse Castles, is scheduled for release in Q4 of this year.

According to Hawkins’ statements to ME, the project will be cross-platform (likely iPhone and Facebook) in order to encompass a greater breadth of users as well as increase the variations of purchasing methods (i.e. credit cards, the Apple App Store, carrier bills/subscriptions, and offer completion). However, what is most curious about the announcement is that the virtual goods are described as “living, breathing life forms.”

As was said, each good will be a character, but it is the objective of Digital Chocolate to have players form a sort of “relationship” and connection with the ones they buy. As such, the goods have been conceptualized as pop culture and historical references such as Octomom, “IDidNotInhale,” and Robin Hood. Furthermore, each character will encompass different benefits for each NanoStar game.

NanoVerse Castles makes for a good first example. For clarity’s sake, it is a card game, and based on the ME post, using a character — say, Robin Hood — in the game will allow a player to exchange a low card of their’s for a high card of the opponent. However, Robin might equate to something else in a different type of game, such as unlocking a better player in a sports game, or becoming a cool piece of furniture or weapon in another.

Currently, Digital Chocolate has not revealed any specifics beyond initial announcements, so it is unknown as to which platform NanoStars will first appear on. Nonetheless, Hawkins says that this idea has been a long time coming and is leveraged off of the publisher’s earlier games, DChoc Café and Party Island, so whichever platform it releases on, you can bet it’s going to be successful.