Posts Tagged ‘Apple App Store’

myVegas Slots smartphone game

myVegas Slots smartphone game

PlayStudios on Tuesday blurred the line between online and real-world gambling with the release of myVegas Slots smartphone games that let players cash in on perks at Sin City casinos.

Free-to-play versions of myVegas Slots released for Apple or Android smartphones let people test their luck on virtual one-armed bandits such as those found in the Mirage, Luxor, New York New York or other MGM Resorts International properties and then use payouts to get VIP treatment in Las Vegas.

“In Las Vegas there are literally 50 tiers of service levels that few people know exist; that is the way Vegas works,” said PlayStudios founder and chief executive Andrew Pascal.

“We let people engage in content that is fun, and their level of loyalty can win them the kind of access that few people get.”

Troves of virtual chips can be cashed in for prizes ranging from buffet meals to show tickets, lodging, swimming with dolphins at the Mirage, or selecting music for the dancing fountain display outside the Bellagio.

PlayStudios has tested its social casino gaming model online and boasted that 1,00,000 players have cashed in on more than $10 million worth of real world rewards to date.

The game’s success has led to new partners including celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and Cirque du Soleil, which stages an array of elaborate and alluring performances in Las Vegas.

MGM has been so impressed by the ability of the game to bring back old players to casinos and attract new visitors that it has ramped up resources devoted to promoting its brands in myVegas, according to executive director of corporate marketing Chris Gumiela.

“It is a big driver for us; we absolutely see more people showing up at our properties,” Gumiela said. “It is not just the gambling that makes up the Las Vegas experience, it is really the other opportunities.”

The myVegas game sidesteps the heavily-regulated world of gambling in the United States by paying players off with being treated like high-rollers in Las Vegas, while leaving the cash-betting games of chance to the casinos.

“We are not in the real-money gambling space, and frankly it is not in our mandate,” Pascal said.

“If you want to gamble, go to Vegas. A lot of people might characterize online gaming as the Holy Grail; we don’t. We think it should be left to people who understand that industry.”

The online version of the game tested for less than a year already has hundreds of thousands of players at Facebook, according to PlayStudios.

California-based PlayStudios plans to make its money from players willing to pay for extra chips to level-up faster in the overarching “meta-game” that involves virtually progressing along the famed Las Vegas strip.

“Candy Crush doesn’t have real places that you work through; we have MGM,” Pascal said, referring to a sensationally popular colour-matching game played on smartphones or tablets. “The great thing about Las Vegas is that everybody has a romantic notion of what it stands for.”

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Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Apple App Store. And perhaps one of the most amazing things about this milestone is that it never would have happened if things had played out the way Steve Jobs wanted.

Just imagine if there were no iPhone apps and no App Store. Aside from creating billions of dollars in value for developers, Apps have been a cornerstone to the success of the iPhone and iPad.

The fact that the App Store does exist is a testament to a characteristic of Jobs and Apple for which neither tends to get much credit. They listen to users.

To understand why, you have to jump back to a piece of history that is often forgotten.

Today, people look at the App Store as part of some master vision cooked up by Jobs. Critics of Apple look at it as symbolic of Apple’s and Jobs’ desire to control every aspect of their technology.

But when the iPhone first landed in 2007, the company was primarily concerned that it actually work and be seen as a stable device when it got into the hands of users. So Apple did not make it possible for third parties to write apps that ran on the phone, worried that glitchy apps might ding the iPhone’s reputation.

Instead, if people wanted applications to run on the iPhone, the company said they could write so-called “Web apps,” little programs that ran inside the mobile browser.

Now, if that had become the dominant way people developed apps as Apple and Jobs expected, then most of these would be able to run on any mobile platform. You wouldn’t have to write one version for iOS, one for Android, and so on. In such a world, Apple wouldn’t have the towering advantage it currently has with the top mobile app developers.

But, of course, that’s not what happened.

What happened, almost immediately, is that people started “jailbreaking” the iPhone to install apps they had written directly onto the phone, so-called “native apps.” Apple tried its best to put a stop to this initially by updating the phones’ operating system, which would in turn wipe out apps that had been installed.

The reason developers preferred native apps was simple. Installed directly on the phone, they could run faster and include more features than a Web app that might have to be pulled across the wireless network each time you ran it. Within a few months of the iPhone’s launch, developers had created about 10,000 Web apps.

But even as it tried to limit the jailbreaking, Apple was listening to developers.

Especially persuasive were arguments from game developers, who wanted more horsepower to write richer games, and financial firms who felt native apps would offer more security.

In October 2007, Apple announced it would relent and create a way for people to write apps for the phone. The company said a Software Development Kit or SDK would be available the following year for developers.

Finally, in March 2008, Jobs gathered reporters at Apple headquarters for an iPhone Software Roadmap Event. At the announcement, Jobs said the Software Development Kit was ready and that the company would launch a store in a few months where developers could submit their apps for sale and users could find apps and download them to their iPhones.

(As a footnote, Jobs was also excited that after just eight months, the iPhone already had 28% of the U.S. smartphone marketshare compared with 41% for Research in Motion. How quaint those numbers seem now.)

Anyway, at the end of the announcement, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins took the stage to announce that his venture firm had created a $100 million iFund to invest in companies looking to develop software for the iPhone.

On July 10, 2008, the App store opened for business. By September 2008, users had downloaded 100 million native apps.

As the fifth anniversary hits, there are now more than 900,000 apps in the store that have been downloaded 50 billion times.

All made possible by a company willing to admit it was wrong, and in the process make one of the most important pivots in recent tech history.