If you’re into iOS gaming chances are you’ve heard of Ridiculous Fishing, the seafaring shoot-em-up from the minds that brought us Super Crate Box. The game’s a stand out not just for its brilliant aesthetic, captivating premise and intuitive controls, but also because it manages to utilise all the great expanded features of recent hits like Pixel People (endless progression through unlockables, social connectivity) without any of the hassles that come with them (punishing micro-transactions, spamming your facebook wall).
In fact everything from the way Ridiculous Fishing scales difficulty to player skill to the rate at which it nourishes you with new junk to buy is very refreshing and considered, but the star of the show as far as innovations go is the fun and crazy social promotion mechanism found in Byrdr – the game’s very own contextualized version of twitter.
When Billy (the protagonist fisherman / hunter / turtle murderer) takes out his wooden phone to check out the map or browse through upgrades at the store, he can also check his Byrdr feed, where in-game characters and passing birds make comments about in-game events.
Checking in with Byrdr adds an extra sense of fun every time you buy a chainsaw lure or a lamp for your fishing line, as you can check in to see what Billy’s personal companion bird Jana Beaksman has to say about it. The shopkeeper and many others will comment on your progress too.
That’s all fun, but here’s where the innovation comes in – every character that lives in Byrdr actually also exists as a proper real-world twitter account. The group of characters, presumably controlled by developer Vlambeer, began tweeting in the weeks before the game launched (in fact Vlambeer made some attempt at viral marketing with the Byrdr brand pre-release as well) and continued to retweet fans shortly afterward. This allows for a great slant on the traditional mobile game trope of “you completed x accomplishment, click here to post about it on twitter”, as Ridiculous Fishing allows you to retweet any character from Byrdr in-game and have it show up on your real-life twitter feed.
For example I sent out these real-world tweets by re-tweeting the in-game characters on Byrdr:
This mechanism achieves what in-game twitter integration has always fallen short of: it encourages people who follow the player on twitter but who haven’t played the game to do a little investigating and find out more about it for themselves. It also runs promotion by providing a glimpse at Ridiculous Fishing‘s unique humour (and obviously by tagging all the tweets with the game’s website). As you can see above you can even follow the links to Billy and Jana’s personal twitter accounts, which furthers the intrigue for potential players.
Plus the whole thing still serves the purpose of allowing players to tweet about their accomplishments. If you take out a narwhal the shopkeeper will byrd about it and you can retweet that to your followers. If you get a new reel perhaps a passing pelican will make some silly wordplay about it, and you can send that out.
Byrdr is an example of how just a little bit of extra thought can turn a marketing and promotion function into added value and – in this case – can ensure that no aspect of your game keeps players from being playfully engaged, even when their play spills out of their iOS devices and reaches out to their friends.