You’re not going to find anyone to dispute the idea that we are the most connected society in history. Starting with brick-sized cell phones in the 70s, the rise of the Internet in the 90s, and now the ubiquitous smart phone which combines the two, technology continues to provide us with an endless supply of options to keep in touch. And keep in touch we do: We not only talk (sort of), we text, email, Skype blog, and game. In 2012, the use of tablets and smart phones overtook time spent on desktops and is even starting to challenge TV.
And how do we spend our time online? Games and social media vie for the top slot (24% each) with the news coming a distant third (12%). Now that everyone has a computer in their pocket, dozens of companies have sprung up to fill our empty hours with their mobile apps and one of the most competitive is SocialSoft, Inc.
Founded in 2007 and based in Palo Alto, CA, SocialSoft made a name for itself on social networking sites, particularly facebook. It creates apps, widgets, and those little games you download onto your mobile device so you can’t put it down. How evil is that?
All SocialSoft mobile games are free to play and available to iOS and Android users worldwide. SocialSoft believes games should have meaning as well as provide entertainment. One of their most popular at the moment is Rainbow Cat, which they developed in support of gay marriage and to oppose California’s Prop 8 (a same-sex marriage ban), rainbows being a traditional symbol of the LBGT community. The game consists of what looks like a blueberry poptart with a cat head pursuing hamburgers and mice, avoiding dogs and poisonous vines, and trailing a rainbow of happiness behind it. Players connect by sharing lives with friends, sending in-game gifts, and comparing scores. It has over a million downloads to date and 3,500 5-star reviews.
In 2009, SocialSoft teamed up withHive7, another Palo Alto gaming company, to create Zen Gardens, a Facebook app not overly dissimilar to Farmville, where participants create and tend their own online garden instead of a farm. Gardeners solicit their friends for “birthstones,” which can be traded for garden products. Ten percent of all in-game retail purchases from May 2009 through May 2010 went to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, which funds breast cancer research. Zen Gardens was the first such Facebook game to serve as a fundraiser for Komen and generated roughly $45,000 for the charity that year.
Whether you like Zen Gardens or Rainbow Cat or not, enough people enjoy their offerings to make SocialSoft a successful company in the highly-competitive, mobile app gaming arena. However, no one can rest on their laurels in this fast-paced environment for long—today’s iPad is tomorrow’s Commodore 64—so time will tell if SocialSoft remains a leader in the tough world of mobile gaming.