Providing players of games with external rewards has become a prosperous business in recent years, and companies Kiip and Raptr have emerged as frontrunners of the concept. But as I learned over the course of a panel featuring Brian Wong (Kiip) and Dennis Fong (Raptr), they tend to approach the model in very different ways.
“We have one major vision: Every achievement deserves a reward,” began an enthused Wong. Developers who incorporate the service’s SDK into their games and drum up a list of achievements are able to provide players with a chance to earn tangible rewards for their accomplishments.
“Imagine you could level up and get a free latte from Starbucks,” he continued, providing the audience an allegorical example of what Kiip is all about. And it’s easy to see what the appeal is here for corporations and players alike: Advertising for the former, and free stuff for the latter.
Wong was quick to note this process is cloaked in a way that keeps people from playing the game in a different way or knowing what they need to do to earn rewards. Clearly, he’s aware of the complaints people have lodged against the concept.
After a crash course in all things Kiip, Fong of Raptr was given a chance to speak.
“What happens after your player stops playing your game? What games do they move on to? We track this information.” While there’s typically no trouble with tracking player habits in any given game, there’s never been an easy way to tell what they move on to when they quit. This is a problem Raptr is trying to fix, along with assisting companies in building up the userbase of their game.
They do this by inviting people to set up an account and link their Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live IDs with it. These users are then given a chance to win things like beta keys, discounts, and early access to games – all of which carry the potential to shepherd them into new titles. Sorry, Starbucks fans: The rewards here are strictly digital.
Services of this nature are only as good as the companies they deal with, and both Raptr and Kiip seem to have that under control. Raptr, for example, is currently giving away 5,000 beta keys for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft, an amount Fong believes is the most offered anywhere. They’ve also formed partnerships with companies like Atlus, Bioware, EA, and Ubisoft.
Kiip, on the other hand, has combined forces with Kodak, Best Buy, Carl’s Jr., Sephora, and more. Going by the list available on their site, it seems as though they’ve made a conscious effort to amass rewards that appeal to every flavor of player – from tech enthusiast to flower aficionado.
Despite the differences between the two services, there’s one key thing they have in common: Neither of them are trying to change the way we play games. Instead, they’re inviting users to keep doing what they're doing, with the caveat that they might earn some rewards in the process. Like the chance to roam a virtual world filled with anthropomorphic pandas. Or a Pepsi!