Here's an interview with the CEO Keith Lee, who used to work at Blizzard.
How do you design the achievements and determine what's going to be appealing to people to try to get?
KL: Well, that's a two-fold thing. One thing we did is actually hire a lot of people in our company that have very diverse interests -- I think, hiring the right people, that understand the pulse of what's going on, is critical.
At the same time, we've been approaching it from a content standpoint: what could actually be the most mainstream achievements that people would want to share with their friends?
So, in this case, being able to go to the Louvre in Paris, that's Art & Culture; or to say that they've been to the Statue of Liberty. Those are the sort of things that we've seen that people would like to at least log and say that they've done.
That sounds kind of cool, and he talks about how the GPS functionality can actually validate achievements, but unfortunately the app is currently not very well rated on iTunes (2 1/2 stars as of this writing), though there does seem to be more recent positive reviews...maybe their updates have improved it.
A lot of the complaints seemed to center around the fact that you don't earn accomplishments by actually doing things, even on the honor system, but by posting to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Honestly, that does sound a little lame. But the people who like the app really do seem to love it.
At least the app is free, so how are they going to monetize?
It's a free app, so what's the monetization route for the company?
KL: The great thing is that we have the digital, as well as we're overlaying the digital with the real world, and so that's really rare and unusual. Because we can almost make our world and all the content that's in there our playground.
And so the great thing is, there's no shortage of potential monetization opportunities. There's the opportunity to work with real-world partners that isn't possible with just, say, an alternate fantasy world. To be able to drive people to go to certain locations -- individually, as well as in a group -- so there's a lot of flash mob theory behind that.
There aren't new ideas, I suppose. This is, of course, very similar to the monetization plan behind Relativia, although from a single player, rather than a networked, multiplayer perspective.
I'm interested to see how well the app does, and if they actually make money. Booyah apparently got $4.5 million in startup money, so they're at least going to be able to pay the bills for a while. I wish them luck.