I can finally crow about something! For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a stealthy little project within my own company, a project neither quite game nor web app. Huddled in the dank corners of our office I worked with a lean but mean world-tossed team and finally… it lives!
It’s a (what else?) casual-game virtual-world social-network insert-your-own-buzzword-here!
And it’s called Hotel iWin.
We decided on a grand luxury hotel as the theme not because we wanted to rip off Habbo (perish the thought), but because we actually talked to tons of people who use our site regularly and noticed a few trends:
- There is no true virtual world or social network geared primarily for our audience (mostly women from 25 to 65).
- Our audience is highly social, but there are very few places online they feel comfortable socializing. Facebook is overwhelming. And MySpace is just, like, whoah!
- People want to escape from their daily lives, but in a mentally and emotionally stimulating way (i.e. not TV).
- Players enjoy forming intense, open, but fleeting relationships — very similar to ones formed on vacations.
So the idea behind Hotel iWin is to really make folks feel like they’re checking out of the daily grind and checking in to a brief but very relevant vacation.
- Play any downloadable casual game on iWin’s site (over 500 of them are free for at least an hour to try, many of them are ad-supported and free forever).
- Earn a virtual currency called Opals for every minute of play.
- Spend Opals on avatar and hotel room pimpin’, mixing and matching over a thousand common and not-so items, with the ability to drag things anywhere you want and “paint” your own scenes.
- Meanwhile, meet other players and maybe even make a few not-so-casual friends.
A tour is here in this lovely 70’s infomercial-esque video.
Much like operating a real-life hotel, building the darn thing is one joyful headache — keeping it actually humming and exciting and populated by happy gamers is a different beast entirely. Can’t wait!