Zapak is taking the MindJolt approach, by attempting to bridge the gap between casual and social games. In essence, the app is like any other portal, containing a number of short and simple Flash-based games. As one might expect, some are good, and others just inane, but the developers do attempt to make them social. As a result, some of the games come off as a bit trite, but thankfully they also don’t lose their casual elements.
There are about 40 games on Zapak at the moment. Very few reflect any sort of Indian flavor. For the most part, each game is a republished version of titles that long-time casual players will likely be familiar with. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make them any less fun.
For every ridiculous game that lasts about 20 seconds (e.g. there is a game called Streak Soccer, where you run, naked, from security guards for as long as you can), there is a high quality one. A particular favorite of ours is the puzzle game Bridgecraft, an overly cute title that tasks players with the construction of bridges and support systems to get colorful-looking crab people from Point A to Point B. Beyond this, there are a few other interesting games such as the rhythm game Breakdancer, the random destruction game 2012, and a very questionable action-shooter game dubbed Taliban Wipeout.
Regardless of what the player chooses, each game comes with very traditional social mechanics. The first, and most direct, is the concept of medals and challenges. As with virtually every casual portal gone social, users can challenge friends (whether they play or not) to beat their high score. Should they not accept after five days, they lose and the challenger earns a medal. Unfortunately, if one doesn’t have friends that will accept, the medals don’t exactly feel like much of an accomplishment.
Beyond this, there are various leaderboards under each specific game, and earnable trophies and items for playing them and scoring a noted score. Again, it’s basic, and common, but being able to earn trophies through beating a predetermined score for each game does bring with it a sense of accomplishment. As for the special items, it’s less clear how they are earned, but they appear to be received just by playing the different games over time. For example, we got a “Newbie” award just by playing two or three games. As these are earned, the accomplishment can be posted to one’s Facebook feed.
Currently, there are no monetization methods implemented into Zapak Games beyond advertisements. In the future, there are plans to monetize the previously stated special items that are stored in one’s trophy cabinet, according to the developer. Advergaming will be implemented as well — a market that is apparently very large in India at the moment.
Zapak is also planning for virtual goods in the near future. However, while there are plans to allow players to customize their trophy room, it’s unlikely there will be purchasable, decorative items. Evidently, such aesthetic-only purchases are rare in India, and those users are looking for goods with more immediate “value.” The best example given to us was an item that will double one’s score for the next 48 hours. Obviously this gives players a bit of an unfair advantage in challenges and leaderboards, but that is apparently both the point and driving factor behind this demographics’ desire to purchase in the first place.
Overall, there’s nothing particularly good or bad about Zapak Games. Its success, like all such portals, relies heavily on the games in its library, with the social implementations working as an enhancement — although for now they are a bit basic. So far, the new portal has steadily grown to 11,003 monthly active users.