Social Platforms For Unity3D Games: An Interview With J. Joly, CEO of dimeRocker

dimeRocker_Logo_VectorThe browser gaming world has slowly been adopting Unity3D as its tool standard for 3D gaming, and dimeRocker is taking that one step further by connecting these 3D games with Social Networks like Facebook and OpenSocial. Used in games by companies like EA and The Cartoon Network, the technology has begun to gain prominence as a true alternative to standard full-install disc based 3D gaming.

dimeRocker, A small startup out of Canada has positioned themselves smartly as a middleware layer that allows Unity3D game developers the opportunity to plug into their gaming platform which provides, among other features, leaderboards, achievements and easy publishing to a Facebook Application version of the game. The technology is still in its closed Beta, but the company is planning to announce open beta at GDC. I here sit down with J. Joly, CEO of dimeRocker, to learn more about their product.

ST: I know you’re in the early stages, but what’s the most promising game developer success story you’ve seen so far with dimeRocker?
J. Joly (JJ): We are still in our closed beta and thus focused on scaling and growing our feature set to enable that will inevitably cultivate this success story. That being said we have found success with the ease our beta group has experienced (and blogged about) using dimeRocker. I can however report an upcoming title that will be released in coming weeks that will harness a new and improved feature set that will enable Unity developers to self-publish, grow player-base and profit from their games on facebook. dimeRocker open-beta to be announced at GDC!

ST: What’s the most popular request you get from developers?
JJ: How do I make money, now! Many ask why we aren’t implementing this sooner (most don’t want to wait until GDC). We thought about this at length when we were developing our roadmap and chose to focus on our deployment platform, leaderboards, scaling and social publishing first – basically all the tools you need to successfully release and socialize a game on facebook. Our belief at dimeRocker is that it is more important to first provide solutions that draw in players and improve the gameplay. You can have the best monetization tools in the world, but if you can’t get the players what’s the point?

ST: How do most people discover your service?
JJ: Blogs, tweets, great word-of-mouth… Many of our early sign-ups came from folks we have engaged with inside the Unity community itself. Last July we launched UnityUsersGroup.com: a non-profit community initiative designed to help Unity devs meet-up and exchange ideas at a local level. Along with the online component we put on four major events (Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and San Francisco) where we held networking events featuring keynotes by Unity staff, followed by workshops where folks were taught how to use it. The response was overwhelming and currently we are trying to figure out how we can do more.

ST: Are you partnering with anyone to power Microtransactions or Advertising?
JJ: As with all of our dR development we weigh all options. We have no interest in reinventing the wheel. Most of what we do is proprietary, but some is best of breed such as Super Rewards whom we use as a payment gateway. In regards to advertising, we have a in-game solution built, the problem is identifying an ad provider who can service our needs.

ST: On the site, microtransactions and advertising are listed as Q2 2010. Is that still on track?
JJ: We are still well on track for both of these objectives but priority has been given to microtransactions, we will be announcing the release of our Marketplace (v1.0) at GDC in March.

ST: How large is the team? Are you expanding?
JJ: Our team is currently at 8 full-time and 3 part-time. We plan to hire 2 more in coming months. We recently closed an angel round and are planning a bigger Series-A round.

ST: Do you leverage existing technologies for analytics, or are you using custom software?
JJ: We will leverage a small amount of existing technology for analytics, however we discovered that there are no existing analytics packages that contain all the functionality needed by social game developers; particularly on the viral side. We are therefore in the midst of creating our own solution which should be available end of March.

ST: You’re in private beta. How many developers have signed up?
JJ: There are currently over 100 devs signed up for private beta with new applications coming in each day.

ST: When do you move to an open Beta?
JJ: We will be announcing our open-beta at GDC.

ST: With your advanced meta-services, like Leaderboards and Achievements, you could potentially support more than just Unity. You could move to Flash in general. Do you have any plans to do that?
JJ: The way our services are designed we could indeed move to support Flash but at this time we have no plans to do so. Unity is our focus as it represents a major evolution in cross-platform browser gaming. It’s affordability, ease of use and massive adoption (100,000 licenses to date) makes it a stand-out. Claims of it being the best game engine under a million dollars are not exagerrated ($1500 for Pro version, $0 for Indy version).

ST: As a Canadian, are you seeing the development of a Canadian Social Games community? Or is most of the action out in San Francisco?
JJ: We are seeing the development of the social games community all around the world. So far we have had beta testers apply from the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, Poland, Australia and Britain. Just to name a few.

ST: Why is only the “R” in dimeRocker capitalized?
JJ: That’s how we Rock…\m/