Mobile and social entertainment company Digital Chocolate wants in on the virtual goods boom — so it’s launching NanoStars, a new game project that revolves around a set of over 100 virtual “characters” that players can buy and use in multiple games. The characters, which will be named after various pop culture references (think Octomom or Robin Hood), give players special advantages depending on the game being played.
The first NanoStars game is slated for a Q4 release; CEO Trip Hawkins told ME that the project will be cross-platform, though he didn’t elaborate on which platforms (the iPhone, Facebook, etc.) would be first. The multiple platform approach gives NanoStars a wider potential user base, but also a variety of ways to take payment. In addition to credit card payments on Facebook, for example, iPhone users could buy their characters through a game in the App Store. Hawkins said the company was also working on carrier billing and subscription options.
Hawkins has been working to expand Digital Chocolate’s games beyond the mobile environment since last year; efforts like the Facebook community Party Island have been well-received, so it’s likely that the NanoStars project will have a heavy social networking component.
So how can the company make sure it’s not banking on what could be a temporary fascination with virtual goods? Hawkins told ME that making the NanoStars actual characters — as opposed to having people buy items like swords, cards or even virtual apparel — was key to the project’s longevity.