First of all – congratulations on scoring what’s (hopefully) going to be a fantastic internship this summer! It’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m sure you went through many applications and interviews to get this gig.
Though your HR contact has probably already made it clear how great your internship will be and how much fun you’ll be having, there are other things that perhaps aren’t as obvious. As a former summer tech intern, there are some things that I wish I had taken advantage of when I had the chance. So you can avoid missing the opportunities I didn’t take, I’ve outlined advice below…
Network internally and externally The great part about summer tech internships is that HR usually does whatever it can to help introduce you to the different folks at your company – be it through happy hours or intern tech talks. I definitely took these events for granted – don’t make the same mistake. If you find that someone that speaks or you speak to is interesting to you, follow up with another coffee chat to learn more about them. People do not turn down coffee chats initiated by interns – after all, they are trying to convince you to come back to work for their company.
One thing I wish I also did more of was networking externally. Sure – I did set up a couple of coffee chats here and there after tech networking events. But I could’ve done so much more, especially since I was in San Francisco at the time. Wherever you may be, there are SO many resources and so many smart people to leverage.
Figure out your likes and dislikes Since internships tend to be pretty short-term, this is the best time to figure out all of your likes and dislikes. Though you’ll probably be ramping up half of the time (it depends on how big the company is), start a private blog on lessons learned at work, how your relationship is with your manager, how you like your team, etc. Take note of what you’d like to see more of, what’s working, what’s not working, etc.
Have some fun
You’ll definitely want to get your work and projects done during your internship, but this is also a chance to show your team (and perhaps the rest of the company) that you’re also a human too. A mistake I made during internships was being a bit too serious about work. If you don’t allow yourself the chance to be yourself at work – you might find out too late that you aren’t a good fit for the culture. It’s ok to loosen up a little bit.
Last but not least, not getting more involved with the outside community was a big regret of mine while I was interning. Wherever you may intern, I bet that there are some really impactful non-profits that you can get involved in. Better yet – ask the HR lead of your intern program to see if he or she can’t help organize an intern-wide community service project. Sure, you might be busy with intern events and parties, but it’s important to also take the time to step back from the glitz and glamour of summer tech internships and give back to communities as well.
Hope this was helpful – would love to hear your thoughts on other advice you’ve heard!
During my first few weeks in Seattle, meals were more of a headache than they were happy occasions. At that time, I didn’t have much cookware in my apartment and I didn’t have many friends yet to go out and eat with.
Instead of moping around and eating canned corn and peas for dinner every night, I decided to turn mealtimes into opportunities. I set out to try each and every on-demand food service in Seattle.
Hand-in-hand with my lack of meal options was also my lack of local startup knowledge. Having been in Los Angeles for over four years, listing the local startups there became second-nature.
I hardly knew about Seattle tech at the time, and trying these on-demand food services would, at least, serve as my foray into this community.
I started with Lish, having seen some ads for it in my Twitter feed once I moved up here. I also had a promo code for $5 off, so I gave it a shot.
Lish is only available in Seattle which I think is pretty cool. Their niche in this space is something along the lines of “like having your own personal chef.” The order window is up until 7 pm, and all ingredients in these dishes are local.
I like the the concept a lot, and they have a great menu that caters to all sorts of different tastes. On any given day, you could have a menu that has everything from Louisiana Jumbalaya to Gnocchi Bolognese.
The only catch for me? It gets pricey, with entrees ranging from $12 to $16. But with local ingredients, the price is somewhat justified.
I’ve always been curious about Munchery. I decided to do some research one afternoon to see if it was available in Seattle, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was.
I received $10 off just by joining, and could get an additional $10 off for each friend I referred.
At first glance, I was already won over by the design of Munchery’s app. Simple and beautiful. Even the daily specials looked that much better because of aesthetics. I decided to order their Miso-Glazed Salmon with Soba.
It can be a little difficult to track when something will arrive from Munchery. Like most of these apps, you get texts when food will arrive soon. But without any accurate live-tracking, the ETA on the screen isn’t always 100% reliable.
Regardless, it’s only a minor inconvenience and very minor since the food is just SO good. I did not expect such quality from what I ordered. Since then, I’ve continued to order from time to time, and haven’t been let down once – portions are always just enough, and the food is always very tasty.
Munchery is more generous with its discounts than other on-demand food services in Seattle and prices are reasonable too.
Want to give Munchery a shot? Use the Promo code: JCGD34A3
Founded by three former Amazon employees, Peach is a lunch-delivery service that is only available depending on where you work.
Let’s say you work at Microsoft. If you’ve signed up for Peach via SMS, you’ll receive a text in the morning with the daily special. To order, all you need to do is text back “YES” and you’ll get lunch from your receptionist.
It’s that easy – and it’s ingenious. Your first lunch is $5, and any referrals will get you more $5 lunches.
How’s the food quality? Really good. Meals come with silverware and are packaged tightly and neatly. The restaurant choices that Peach offers are also well-curated. After redeeming the discount price, meals tend to range between $9 and $11, which is more than decent.
Work in Seattle or San Diego? Redeem a $5 lunch here.
I unfortunately had a bit of a subpar experience with UberEATS. To start, the interface is a little confusing. Even in UberEATS mode, the app still looks as if you were about to order an Uber – except for the pull-up menu at the bottom.
I also had a discount code which I thought had applied and gone through – however via email, I was told the feature was buggy and that it did not work.
I had ordered a stew, which I knew wouldn’t look like how it was pictured in the app…
… But it didn’t really even resemble the photo.
Nevertheless, the taste was fine which made up for the ordering experience. I would say the options given daily are so-so. The restaurant choices are good, but they don’t always offer the items I would order.
When in Seattle – use Amazon PrimeNow for food! The day before I was leaving for the holidays, I realized I didn’t have any food in my fridge. So I opted for PrimeNow, where I could scroll through the partner restaurants and select the available items I wanted.
Even though Prime can be pricey, I will admit that the experience is really good. Real-time tracking is very accurate and the food is hot – we are, after all, talking about THE leader in shipping and e-commerce. I was definitely pleased with the experience.
After seeing a couple of BiteSquad cars from time to time, I got curious enough to see what BiteSquad was all about. Being completely honest, I didn’t really see the difference between BiteSquad, UberEATS, PrimeNow or any of the other delivery services besides the fact that 1) BiteSquad is more “transparent” with its ordering and delivery process and 2) those cars.
BiteSquad probably has the biggest selection of restaurants to choose from out of all of the services. The delivery is either free or is a small fee depending on where you’re ordering from.
Prices are reasonable through BiteSquad, and I definitely enjoy the live updates – I can time things perfectly if I’m coming out a meeting.
If you’re hungry and you’re reading this, you shouldn’t have any problem getting food now. Did I miss any other services? Other non-Seattle services that are worth mentioning? Let me know!
Twitter is probably one of the more polarizing social networks out there. Despite how long it’s been around, Twitter still has so much untapped potential.
Though projects like the revamped Twitter homepage, Safety Center and Project Lighting have been in the works, things are still moving fairly slow. But there’s a number of reasons for this – one, in particular, is that the executive team has been having quite a number of issues internally.
Ever since the dawn of TweetDeck (before Twitter acquired it from Iain Dodworth), independent developers have been making all sorts of different third-party apps for Twitter. A sample of some of these apps can be found on Product Hunt, but standout apps include: Flutter, Social Hunt, Buffer and most recently, Storyline (posted by Mark Cuban). All of these apps (and more) are taking advantage of all that Twitter can offer but doesn’t.
As a rabid Twitter user, one of the non-features that continues to stand out to me most is customer service – it’s the shiniest diamond in the rough.
The Internet has given unsatisfied folks everywhere countless ways to voice their opinions. Occasionally, a customer complaint video on YouTube will go viral, but this has happened less and less as YouTube continues to get diluted with nearly 60 hours of video being uploaded every minute.
Sometimes Facebook posts get attention from the media about shopping experiences gone wrong, but you would need to get a ton of shares and likes to do so. Comments are usually the best way to get a brand’s attention on Facebook, but even then, back-and-forth conversations start getting messy, especially since you can’t respond directly from notifications- unlike Twitter.
And that’s what makes Twitter such a wonderful tool for customer service.
This blog post, in particular, was inspired by two fantastic experiences I had with Airbnb and Weave.
After taking a survey about Airbnb and filling out some demographic information, I was a bit irked that I couldn’t put down multiple options for race (I’m half Japanese and German). Here’s how the conversation went:
I won’t cover up the fact that I wasn’t the nicest customer when I first tweeted at Airbnb. But you know what? Whoever handles customer inquiries and complaints does a marvelous job. Even if the feedback I provided isn’t applied in the next survey, at least for this time being, it’s nice to know that I was heard (though I hope my feedback is used).
Another example is when a particular feature in the Weave app wasn’t working for me.
This exchange was by far one of the most memorable I’ve had with a company. The person on the other side, tweeting on behalf of Weave, truly cared about both the product and the user, and wanted to do his or her best in helping me out.
At this point in the post, I probably have some skeptics. And if you’re doubting some of my ideas right now, I can’t blame you because there’s one important detail I’ve left out – Zendesk.
According to this press release, the Zendesk-Twitter collaboration lets users…
– Turn a tweet into a new Zendesk ticket — a twicket — with one click
– Record threaded Twitter conversations with full audit trail
– Combine public and private dialog while maintaining confidentiality
– Switch a Twitter conversation into an email conversation
– Seamlessly integrate with social media monitoring tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, Twitter.com, and the Twitter iPhone and Android apps.
Being completely honest, I’ve never been on support-side when using “twickets.” I’ve contacted Twitter before for support issues within the past five years and I can’t say that I had the best experience (but don’t take my word on this – it was a while ago).
But regardless of whether or not companies use Zendesk’s Twitter integration feature for service tickets, there are still many reasons that Twitter works just fine as a standalone service app.
Email – the one digital creation that we still can’t use masterfully. Why do we hate email so much? Why do emails get so messy?
It’s the reason why users like using Twitter to voice concerns. They don’t have to go to their primary email provider, hit compose, figure out who to send the email to, write the email, then send the email. Humans like simple things. Twitter makes service requests for users so much simpler and quicker. Compose, write, send – there’s no guesswork.
Of course, when questions and requests take up more than 140 characters, then it’s possible for DMs to come into play, but that then adds another layer of communication, which isn’t advised.
With all this being said… what can be done to bolster Twitter as a Service?
1. Offer different features as part of Twitter for Business. Recommend and reserve business/brand hashtags with “Help” at the end of their handles, like Airbnb does already (and many other companies). Add the ability to organize, tag and prioritize customer service-related Tweets in a different portal.
2. Make prices competitive to those of Zendesk. I’ll be honest – Zendesk already has really great pricing options, but when prices are similar enough, oftentimes mere preference is what can make or break a sale.
3. Twitter loves data – after all, the platform allows users a glimpse into their Twitter analytics for free (with the hope that they buy ads from Twitter, of course). Why not make a separate data page for customer service – showcasing which brands actively serve customers using Twitter, how many times a day brands respond to users, keeping track of each user’s service requests, etc. This could be a fun project for Twitter, but would take many, many hours to figure out how to collect this data (if it’s even possible at this time).
It should be said that Twitter uses Zendesk for its service tickets, so I highly doubt any of these ideas will be put into place any time soon. Not to mention, with Twitter Flight in the next couple of months, I’m sure Twitter has many of its own announcements to make.
Unless, that is, Kim Kardashian recommends this blog post to Jack Dorsey.
Everyone has their respective opinions about social media. Some people LOVE to share on Facebook. Others count tweetstorming as a serious hobby. There are also people (believe it or not) that shy away from social media completely.
I’ve been around social media for nearly a decade, but have been most invested in it during these past couple of years. I’ve struggled with some serious FOMO, had to go cold turkey from Instagram and, as of late, quit using Snapchat too.
Even though May is Social Media Month (apparently), I wanted to take the months of July and August to share my thoughts on social media, and also hear other’s thoughts as well. Snapchat and Facebook may only seem like small aspects of our lives, but depending on who we talk to, they play a much larger role than we think.
I wanted to end this post with a fantastic piece from Nir Eyal on FOMO. Enjoy.
While I was abroad for about a month, I found that with my limited access to the Internet, I started playing offline-compatible games that were still on my phone that I hadn’t played for some time. The game that I went back to most, almost obsessively, during my travels was TwoDots.
For anyone that doesn’t know about TwoDots by now, it’s the more grown-up version of the original Dots game, which took the casual mobile gaming universe by storm. It takes less than 30 seconds to understand the game and the interface (for both games) is both elegant and clean. The team beefed up elements in the game where, perhaps, a lot of developers wouldn’t pay much attention to otherwise (See NYT’s piece on TwoDots’ charming soundtracks).
Since the Playdots team launched TwoDots, they’ve spruced up some of their pay walls. Here are some examples:
When you’re about to start a level, the game gives you the option of starting with a boost. I’m pretty stocked up in terms of boosts, but for users that have already run out of boosts, they are available for purchase.
If you get very close to finishing a level but fail, the game usually gives you the option of purchasing a boost and a couple more moves.
If you run out of lives, you can either wait 20 minutes for another life or refill your lives for 99 cents.
I’ve briefly written about TwoDots before, and how for a fairly casual game, they’re putting in a lot of effort to seamlessly monetize without being too pushy. I have to admit, it’s pretty effective. I’m not bothered at all by the pop-ups because they combine both helpful information (e.g. number of lives/boosts I have left) and chances to make a purchase. Though occasionally the placement of the “Refill lives” or “Buy more boosts” buttons are a little tricky (I find myself accidentally pressing them all the time).
But here’s the thing – I haven’t paid a single penny. Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t mind coughing up some cash for the game either. What gives?
As much as I talk about games and love reading news about gaming, I am not a devout gamer. I’ve taken gaming personality tests in the past, and each time, my results identify me as a very casual gamer. I am not a whale – I will not spend money unless I have to upfront for a game like, say, Monument Valley. I download freemium games to get a sense of what the games are like, but rarely do I ever stick with these game for more than a month or so (there are exceptions).
When I come across a game or app I really like, the more I use it, the more I get comfortable with it. And the more comfortable I get with an app, the more I feel ok with spending money on it, since it’s already served me well. The problem with a lot of freemium apps (especially for mid-core/hardcore games) is that their monetization strategies are geared heavily towards getting whales to pay up. It’s not a bad strategy, especially when whale users, who make up 0.15% of mobile gamers, bring in 50% of the revenue.
Monetization gets a little trickier though when it comes to TwoDots, a game that’s not mid-core or hardcore, but pretty casual.
It’s worth noting that TwoDots hasn’t done too bad in terms of grossing, but it’s nowhere near Clash of Clans or Candy Crush status.
iPhone stats for TwoDots within the past year via App Annie.
Google Play stats for TwoDots within the past year via App Annie.
As I mentioned previously, the more I play TwoDots, the more I would be ok with paying. However, I’d prefer to not pay 99 cents every time I need lives because it does add up over time. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind paying $5 to play as much as I want. Obviously, this is not a new revenue model at all – in fact, it’s how games have been sold since they were created. Buy so-and-so game for Xbox, and you can play it as much as you want.
So I’ve been thinking – whales bring in a lot of money, but they only make up a small portion of the gaming audiences (note: this doesn’t mean that non-whales DON’T pay – they just don’t bring in nearly as much cash as whales do). It’s true that you can’t directly use users’ UDIDs, but most major gaming companies have found a way of going around UDIDs by giving users their own ID numbers/codes to be able to define cohorts and gather data. Why not use the data you already have on users to make the gaming experiences slightly different? And I’m not just talking about tailored push notifications (which is already being done) – I’m talking about tailoring the ways to get users to pay up.
For users that are loyal to the app but have yet to spend anything, change the experience for them – send out a *limited time offer* to spend $5 for infinite lives (just don’t tell the whales). By doing this, it’s true that once the users opt into the $5 deal, they will never spend money in the app again… but hey – would you rather get $5 from a user or nothing at all?
At the same time, this kind of customized monetization experience can be slightly risky – the obvious factor being that people start finding out and getting angry that they’ve already spent a bunch of money on the app while the non-payers only have to pay $5 for infinite lives. Since this is a difficult situation, it might be best to roll out a “differentiated experience” like this when a company/developer(s) realizes that the game either is A) tanking or B) is not monetizing at all, since at that point, there aren’t too many options left to save the app.
As if the world couldn’t get any smaller, with the help of apps like Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat and other related “teleporting” apps, seeing places like Canada or even Saudia Arabia is just a press or click away.
Getting a glimpse into a stranger’s world with apps isn’t anything new. Browse Product Hunt on any given day and you’ll probably find a new social app connecting strangers with one another through some sort of niche capacity (my personal favorite is Be My Eyes, an app that lets you “lend” your eyes to the blind).
Since getting downloads, not to mention engagement, on apps is difficult enough, what about Meerkat and Periscope made people so excited? Just like the concept of connecting strangers from all over the world, live-streaming is an even older concept. With platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Ustream and others like them (the Subservient Chicken sort of counts too), we’ve always been fascinated with being able to interact and be part of someone’s world, even for a little bit.
But mobile has changed all of this. It’s one thing to sit at your desk, maybe turn on some music, and chat with viewers about what’s on your mind, but it’s another thing when you can show people from all over the world your home, your school or your community. With Meerkat and Periscope, you have the ability to see Paris, San Francisco and Los Angeles or be part of a Q&A with the likes of Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres all within a matter of minutes.
From what I’ve seen so far, both the Periscope and Meerkat communities are very friendly – comments like “Hi from Portugal!” or “This is great!” showing up on your screen makes the whole experience really fun and tight-knit.
Recently, Snapchat has also joined in on the fun by spotlighting different countries through curated stories.
Even though Snapchat isn’t real-time, the curators behind these stories have done a great job so far of creating a sense of oneness among viewers around the world – from teens in Dubai playing 2 Chainz in the car to Norwegian students taking selfies.
Sometimes it’s a little silly, but it’s also really fun to see that we’re a lot less different from each other than we think.
The other night, as I was walking out of a movie premiere in Hollywood, it dawned on me – how cool is it that I’m in Hollywood right now? I wanted to share this epiphany with someone… so I pulled out my phone and started a Periscope stream.
I was able to get about 120 viewers and maintained good retention when I focused in on a man dressed like Jesus jamming on his drum kit. A viewer commented, “This made my night!”
I walked around Hollywood for a little longer, showing viewers Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Hollywood Wax Museum. I was by myself while I was doing all of this, but even when the viewership dwindled to just four people, I didn’t feel alone at all. There was a subtle yet sheepish grin on my face as I took my time walking around, stopping to watch street performers, waving back at strangers who, seeing that I was recording a video, waved at me.
After all of the times I’ve been to Hollywood, there was something magical about this visit. With Periscope, I was showing people Hollywood through my perspective but, at the same time, I was inadvertently seeing Hollywood through what I imagined to be their eyes – trying to capture the lights, the people and anything I came across as exciting during my 10-minute stream.
When I first heard about Meerkat and then Periscope, I was skeptical. I figured the buzz surrounding these apps would be only temporary and so I ignored what I heard… until curiosity got the best of me. My first attempt at livestreaming a keynote of Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger, Inc., was a bit of a flop, but the more I tuned into different streams, the more I understood what interested people.
Like so many products, the amount of viewers you’re going to get depends on how you market your stream. In the case of Meerkat and Periscope, it depends on: 1) Your copy (for the title), 2) the person initiating the stream, 3) your content, 4) your location. If you’re a big brand or a celebrity, chances are that your location or copy won’t matter as much, but in order to retain viewers, you still need good content. If you’re not a celebrity but you’re doing some sightseeing in Florence or live by the Golden Gate Bridge, if you can slap an alluring title onto your stream, chances are that you’ll also get some good viewership.
Not to mention, Meerkat and Periscope offer huge opportunities for brand-user engagement. If you’re in charge of social media for a company, you’re probably already overwhelmed by the InstaPinSnapBook behemoth that you have to tame on a daily basis. But think about it – a fireside Meerkat chat with the CEO? A Periscope tour of HQ? It’s more personal and it brings to life the Instagram photos you would normally post or the #AskOurCEO hashtags you would use.
As much as I love mobile apps, admittedly, I’m also very skeptical about them. Whenever I read something along the lines of “X social app is like Snapchat for Pugs” on TechCrunch, I’ll skim the article, download the app if I’m interested enough… but 99% of the time I end up deleting the app in a couple of days.
I’m very optimstic about Meerkat and Periscope (the argument between the two is another blog post, but I am partial to Periscope at the moment) and I really like where Snapchat is headed (except for their original series Literally Can’t Even).
It’s not too difficult to imagine the advanced versions of what these apps are trying to accomplish. As you probably have already guessed, Facebook is planning to do the same but with a more immersive slant as soon as consumer-friendly versions of Oculus come out. Magic Leap already has its own plans for hyper-immersion and interactivity as well. Will we be seeing social sharing via drones five to ten years from now?
I’m not entirely sure.
But whether or not I can handle the degree of immersiveness that’s about to hit us in the near future is something I’m both excited but also *slightly* dreading to find out.
It’s been a crazy year for apps. From the breakthrough of Glu Mobile’sKim Kardashian: Hollywood to top-chart newcomers like Crossy Road, the diversity of this year’s viral apps continues to make people wonder what it takes to publish a popular mobile app. Though I wish I knew the answer to this, I’ve picked out a couple of mobile apps that stood out to me this year based on features I thought were really unique and had that special “virality factor” quality. Let’s begin…
I was addicted to Hay Day for one summer and I’ve played my share of Simpsons: Tapped Out. Despite all of the F2P, management-based games I’ve played, Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff, published by TinyCo in partnership with Fox,is hands-down the funniest and best maintained game I’ve ever played since I’ve had an iPhone. No, I’m not being paid by anyone to say this – I really do mean it, so let me count the ways. First, character development. It’s not something you would usually think of for a mobile game (an AAA console game, yes). Most people tend to tap past speech bubbles because they don’t really do much for the game. But in this case, dialogue is integral because it keeps the game fresh. The humor is, as expected, a little raunchy at times (mostly due to Quagmire), but it’s still hilarious.
The TinyCo team also has an exceptional Live Operations team. Most games of this genre usually don’t survive because they start getting stale: Pick your crops, plant them, wait for them to grow and pick them again. But for Family Guy, their live ops go above and beyond the usual (and oftentimes obligatory) holiday or Halloween themes. Think attacking Christmas Yetis, hypnotizing mall santas and throwing snowballs at Christmas shoppers. It’s pretty fun.
I think the final feature I wanted to address for this game actually goes beyond the app itself. Like most management-based games, there’s a heavy push towards social media. Supercell, for example, maintains very active social media pages for its games in order to give out extra prizes or help connect players. TinyCo, through its Family Guy page, does a great job of staying in character when responding to users and, as far as I’ve seen, responds to nearly ever single person who has a question or suggestion for the game. Nicely done, TinyCo and Fox.
I discovered Crossy Roads about a month ago after seeing it on the front page of the App Store. It wasn’t published by a Storm8 or DeNA type of mobile company – instead, it’s published by Hipster Whale, a three-person team of indie developers. Every time I show my friends or colleagues the game, they almost always bring up Frogger but add “except its infinite.” And it’s true – the obstacles (i.e. logs, cars) are undoubtedly inspired by the classic 80’s game. But the big difference? Characters. Instead of just one plain Jane frog, Crossy Roads gives players a chance to play with up to 53 (and counting) characters, including Pew Die Pug, Floppy Fish, Rusty Robot and Poopy Pigeon, my personal favorite.
Even though you can easily buy characters you want for 99 cents, like most F2P games there’s usually a workaround. In this case, once you collect 100 coins, you can use these coins to win a prize (aka a new character) – a gacha element that I think Hipster Whale did a great job of localizing. The only thing I would suggest to tweak would be load the game quicker. Right now, it takes about 10 seconds for the splash screen to transition to the actual game. It isn’t too much of an issue, but it would be definitely appreciated if it were improved.
Monument Valley is by far one of the loveliest games I’ve ever played on an iPhone. Developed by none other than ustwo, which also developed and published kid-friendly Whale Trail and Blip Blup, the company already has a record of creating great products. But Monument Valley is definitely ustwo’s best work yet. The soundtrack is delicate and mysterious. The art is good enough to frame and hang up (which you can, if you’re interested). And the mazes are often compared to M.C. Escher’s drawings – you are forced to think out of the box in order to complete each maze.
Going beyond the game, Monument Valley has also been able to show how, unfortunately, the gaming landscape (though particularly mobile gaming) has changed for the worst. When ustwo released its expansion pack in mid-November, some people were appalled because the additional pack was not free.
As someone who has worked in the F2P industry, I am aware of the downsides. In this case, because so many games out there are free, people are expecting everything to be free these days. But let’s get this straight: The people who were part of the Monument Valley team worked extremely hard on this game – it was their job. If they gave these games out to everyone for free, how would these hard-working people get paid? Though the expansion pack hasn’t done as well as the original game, there are still many exciting projects in store for ustwo… like their gorgeous new VR game, Land’s End.
Let’s take a break from mobile games and focus on a social networking app that really grew on me. Weave is the Tinder for networking, where you can swipe right to show that you’re interested in meeting someone for coffee or just getting some advice. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how open the people in Weave’s community are and have learned a number of great things from people I’ve been talking to. From my experience with the app and the community, everyone is enthusiastic to share their ideas and share what they are working on. The UI is simple, so tutorials aren’t necessary. I can definitely see myself using this app more often post-college.
Remember Dots, the adorable game where you connected matching dots in under 60 seconds? This year, Playdots really beefed up on its monetization model to create TwoDots. Though this game still has the same underlying rules, different elements like icy dots (takes three times to break the ice) and fiery dots (that burn up normal dots) are used as well as a Candy Crush-like path that winds through different worlds and boasts more than 200 levels. What I love about TwoDots is that it still has its original Dots-like charm. No ads and no pushy “Buy this power-up now!” pop-ups. The game boasts cute, minimal illustrations and a soundtrack that The New York Times quickly took notice of.
As a segue into 2015, another year of many more apps to come, I wanted to add Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions to this list. Though this app has been out for barely one month, I got some sneak peeks of it while I interned at Kabam this summer, so I’ve been anticipating the arrival of this app for a while now. And let me tell you, this game is unlike any Kabam game I’ve seen yet. Like the majority of its games, it is AAA quality, and the game play and UX are so smooth and easy to pick up on. This game sets Kabam’s standards even higher, and I’m really excited to see what else Kabam has in store for the new year.
… And that wraps up my picks for this year! There are of course thousands of other apps that came out this year, so if I skipped over any of your favorites, make sure to leave a comment. Happy new year!