It’s less than a year since TeePee Games launched with a heavy weight team that includes ex-CEO of Sega Europe Nick Alexander, Tony Pearce, formerly boos of Player X, and Simon Jones, previously with THQ and MD of Game Jacket.
Since that time the company has pushed the boundaries of social gaming search via the use of its proprietary recommendation engine, Geronimo.
With early seed funding received from Turner Broadcasting, and having recently launched their first white label Facebook app with OK! Magazine, TeePee Games has already recommended over two million games across Facebook, online and Android, and Geronimo continues to power TeePee using social data, gaming profiles and behavioral analytics to recommend games to its users. But coming in Q2 2012 will be a brand new offering from TeePee that is set to help social gaming developers massively – the Tomahawk testing program.
As it currently stands, social gaming devs need to rely on in-house testing for game mechanics and playability, as well as bug reports and other technical feedback issues.
While the purely technical aspects are manageable – after all, a bug report is not a subjective report; it’s binary feedback that shows whether something is going to break the game, or it isn’t – the other, more subjective aspects of a social game, including the actual gameplay and design, are often difficult to get right because of the forest syndrome (otherwise known as not being able to see the wood for the trees).
When a developer is close to a project it’s often difficult to keep perspective and this is where Tomahawk comes into its own.
Due to the success of TeePee over the past year, and the numbers of players involved, they have been able to carefully select a team of 'super users', across all demographics, who are now involved in the Tomahawk program in order to provide game feedback to developers. A comprehensive questionnaire was devised and sent out to respondents and, from this, the super users were put together. TeePee then put together a clever system whereby a game can be submitted for testing from a development client, circulated to a relevant dataset of players (this dataset can be chosen by the developer, depending on factors that are relevant to their final audience and overall strategic goals) and then a report can be generated that will highlight gameplay issues /good points/points that may need tweaking etcetera.
Darren Newnham, head of content for TeePee, explains: “The idea behind the Tomahawk testing programme is to be able to add massive amounts of value to our development clients output in order that they see a better overall return further down the line.” He continued “In the old, traditional development paradigm, developers designed a game, spent some time internally playtesting it and then passed it across to a publisher who then polished it some more, spent a huge amount of money marketing it and then crossed their fingers.
"In the social space it’s totally different. It’s quicker, of course, but the need for quality is perhaps more important because of the nature of the audience. We’re not dealing with hardcore gaming fans that are keen to extract every cent spent on a title, we’re dealing with players who do not even consider themselves as gamers, but who consume social gaming content regularly and, importantly due to the nature of the space that they’re playing, communicate about their experience to a huge potential audience.”
As it stands, TeePee currently has over 350 Facebook games and has agreements in place with some of the largest content providers and developers in the industry, including Zynga, Playfish and Digital Chocolate. However, it’s the mid-to-long tail developers that are proving a success on the TeePee platform.
As Tony Pearce, CEO and co-founder of TeePee Games explains; “It’s the smaller developers that struggle to get their games discovered and that’s where we can help. We don’t have a top 50 chart like everyone else, we only show games that are recommended to you personally. Geronimo is a clever recommendation engine, but ultimately it’s the quality of a title that is going to drive people to play a game for any meaningful length of time, and the Tomahawk testing service is where our two key strands – search and quality – meet in order to create a proposition that is something truly unique.”
TeePee Games are launching many new Facebook, flash, MMO and Android games weekly and anyone interested in getting their games onto the Tomahawk programme and, ultimately, onto the TeePee platform should contact Darren Newnham.