MindJolt’s Value to Buyer: A Whole Lot of Games, and a Platform for Many More

Yesterday we reported that a team of former MySpace execs, along with Austin Ventures, acquired MindJolt Games, the publisher of some 1,300 independently developed casual games. With its mostly new management, the company (which will keep the MindJolt name) appears to have a strategy of acquiring and partnering with others to build a new social gaming juggernaut.

Most of the attention around the deal seems to be on MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe, who is heading the team. But MindJolt has been quietly growing for some months without attracting much attention to itself, so we went to take a look at exactly what the company does.

Besides maintaining a website that gets several million visitors a month, MindJolt is also one of Facebook’s biggest apps. It comes in at number 14 on AppData, our application traffic measurement service, when measured by monthly average users. Someone visiting the Facebook app for the first time might be forgiven for feeling like they just walked into a aging pack rat’s basement: What the heck is all this stuff, anyway?

The question is impossible to answer in any concise way, besides to say that many are Flash-based casual games that you might also see on many other sites around the web. The concept of asynchronous gaming is what drives many of the biggest social games. People can just pop on to Facebook for a few minutes or more per day, and do a couple simple things, like water their plants then check out their friends’ plots in FarmVille.

But while casual games typically haven’t gotten as big and profitable as socially-driven ones on social networks, MindJolt’s massive accumulation of mostly synchronous titles means it can bring in the traffic, too. The result is an intriguing platform for the MySpace team to build on; broadly speaking, they have experience with this sort of thing, as they leveraged MySpace out of other internet properties. For more, read this great article by Jay Weintraub (a speaker at our Inside Social Apps conference in April) about DeWolfe and MySpace’s rise.

Here are a few top-listed games within MindJolt’s Facebook app:

Bubble Spinner — Bubble shooting games never get old; in fact, MindJolt also lists Bouncing Balls, a straightforward ball-blaster, among its top apps. Bubble Spinner is a bit different. The bubble “gun” is at the top of the screen, while all the bubbles are in the center, on a wheel that rotates in response to each shot.

Crazy Cabbie — This is essentially a coordination game, in which you either dodge cars or hop over them in your own bright-red taxi. It’s extremely simple, with only a couple of sound effects and no real penalty for crashing. Incidentally, this game might be modeled off the taxi scene in Dubai: desert surroundings, high speeds, and a suspiciously expensive-looking taxi.

Tower Stack — There’s even less to say about this game than Crazy Cabbie. Blocks swing down from the left side of the screen; you click on the block when it appears to be in about the right position to make it fall atop the last block. The aim is to build a never-ending tower, but there’s no physics or balancing involved.

Warzone Tower Defense — An alternate on the popular tower defense theme, Warzone offers a variety of pre-set maps that enemy waves move across. Your part is to place automatically-firing towers in strategic locations, where they can snipe off passing fighters. Like other defense games, it offers players the chance to use some real-time strategy.

We’ll stop there although, of course, the above is but a small sampling of MindJolt’s offerings. The rest fall among six major categories (action, puzzle, strategy, shooter, sports and the catch-all “other”) and include pretty much any simple game concept you can think of. There is a type of game you probably won’t find on MindJolt: one that’s exclusive to the app, and not also hosted somewhere else.