Booyah was one of the early leaders in the location gaming market with MyTown, a check-in game that raced out ahead of Foursquare and Gowalla, but differentiated itself with its Monopoly for the real world approach. After 4.5 million downloads of MyTown, Booyah is back with MyTown 2, a new take on gaming that incorporates more of a CityVille approach while still using the real world as a game board.
MyTown 2, a universal iOS app which hits the App Store Thursday, works the city-building angle but allows you to apply it to the real world. The original game also allowed you to buy real locations, but the sequel now comes with an overhead view of the world that looks more like CityVille and We Rule. It also changes some of the mechanics. Now, the price of a location is based on its real-world popularity with other players, who can also own the same property, and that also determines how much money the location produces. Gamers look to expand their town’s population, which allows players to build more business and improve their economy. Check-ins are no longer necessary to buy locations, but can be used to get bonuses, boosts and special rewards.
Booyah CEO Jason Willig, who replaced founder Keith Lee a month ago, said the sequel tries to find game experiences from the first game that spoke to people and expand upon them.
It’s an interesting move for Booyah, which has moved away from location-based gaming with titles like Night Club City and Early Bird. It’s now showing it still wants to innovate on this idea of location-based gaming. Booyah was never really in competition with Foursquare and Gowalla, which provide more of a utility for check-ins. And now those companies are moving even further away from their gaming mechanics while MyTown is trying to be even more like a real game.
I think it’s interesting that MyTown has also de-emphasized the check-in, which Willig said isn’t central to the game anymore but can serve more like a slot machine providing extras. It reminds of what Ville Vesterinen, founder of location-based game Shadow Cities noted, that much of location games are played from home or work so games need to allow people to play without necessarily always venturing out into the real world. Will MyTown 2 find an audience? Its predecessor raced out to 3 million downloads in its first year, though growth slowed after that. MyTown 2 has an interesting take on city-building in the real world, and I’m hoping it can help explore more of the location-gaming genre, which is still just getting going.
Booyah could use some more momentum to justify the almost $30 million it’s raised from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Accel and DAG Ventures .