The lights are on
We all know the groan that most core gamers make when the words "social," "mobile," and "in-app purchase" are uttered in the same sentence. One company is trying to change that knee-jerk reaction by putting social causes at the forefront of its efforts. Game It Forward's upcoming title Quingo isn't just a worthy endeavor, it's a lot of fun.
The company was founded by Brandon Bozzi, who has a background at Big Fish Games and Wizards of the Coast, and Morgan Belford, who previously worked at Microsoft and created a social location sharing app called Snikkr. Game it Forward is incorporated under the State of Washington's relatively new social purpose corporation law. This status enables the company to make decisions that might not always be in the best interest of shareholders (typically something that would be grounds for a lawsuit), provided that the impetus is one of the state's authorized social purposes.
Game it Forward's first title is called Quingo, a blend of bingo and trivia. Players are asked question with five correct answers. The other 20 responses on the five-by-five grid will waste time and a valuable space on the board. Creating a line of five correct answers nets "hope," which is translated into money for one of six Seattle charities.
At any time, players can see what Paws, Splash, Seattle Children's Hospital, the Martinez Foundation, Kiva, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are doing with the money and how much they have raised. The revenue is generated through advertising sales (appearing every third game or so) and in-app purchases.
In the demo version we were shown, there are a number of one-time boosts and a variety of add-on packs. The former can be purchased with in-game currency or real money. The latter is only available through a cash purchase.
By default, the correct answers aren't revealed at the end of a question period, but they can be with a permanent micro-transaction that will cost a few dollars. In most other games, it would be easy to revile this practice. In Quingo, it's a smart way to help earn extra money for one of the charities. There are additional question packs, an ad-blocker, and even a $19.99 "Heart Light," that doubles the amount of hope earned in each game. Again, the context makes these interesting choices for players hoping to do even more good with their play time.
Bozzi and Belford have taken the things people hate about free-to-play titles and re-purposed them for good. Quingo will be released on iPad on September 19, 2013.