The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets


After two Years in Development Idle Worship is Keeping the Faith in Sophisticated Social Games

By Regina Leuwer

Every now and then developers claim that their latest game marks a ‘new era’ for social games – in the case of Idle Games this isn’t just trash talk. The company was founded by Jeffrey Hyman and ex-Playdom exec Rick Thompson; the latter also invested a total $15 million in the San Francisco-based studio.
After two years, Idle Games finally reveals its debut title Idle Worship to the public today – an incredibly ambitious social game that connects real-world friends with strangers and combines asynchronous with synchronous gameplay, handmade art and animations.

Idle Worship draws on the tradition of god games like Populous by giving control over a population of cute little creatures named Mudlings that live on an island. Players interact in real-time – battle or collaborate with other gods, but also play asynchronously while they customize their world and their avatar, a little altar.
They also get to choose whether to be kind or cruel gods. Idle Games’ CEO Jeffrey Hyman tells us that the company had to go to great lengths to establish a balance between the two modes because most people didn’t want to play bad, even if it was beneficial for game progress.

Playing god and stirring up social games

Idle Worship gameplay - click to enlarge

The game’s theme is designed to meets gamers’ desire to be in control and to be adored. The aim is to amass as many ‘followers’ as possible for the player’s religion. Though Hyman points out that aren’t any actual religious symbols whatsoever – and so far no-one has been offended by the cheerful religious approach. “The game is only making fun of atheists, because they are portrayed as little sad and depressed creatures,” Hyman says.

The development of Idle Worship took so long partly because the game basically aims to reinvent the genre and pays a painstaking attention to detail. Mudlings and other creatures are hand-drawn and animated and before they are integrated into the game creating unique visuals while also proving that Flash is still very powerful for Facebook games.

No to the friends bar – yes to interaction with strangers

Idle Games deliberately decided against some of social games standards such as the friends bar, which Hyman calls ‘silly and stupid’. Instead the players’ island is automatically surrounded by other islands of his first degree friends (if they play Idle Worship) and strangers which are selected by an algorithm. When players interact less, their islands move further apart and the space is filled with fresh users. In-game the interaction between strangers is not only possible but encouraged and even enforced as players are affected by actions of random others.

“When we founded Idle Games, we asked why limit your gameplay experience to your immediate friends, why not have the option to play synchronously, why not make a game that’s fun, full of humor, and as elegant as your imagination allows,” said Idle Games co-founder Rick Thompson in a press statement.

To list all of the game’s features would go beyond the scope of this article and there is no end in sight – recently Idle Games hired Michael McCormick, lead designer of Zynga’s CityVille, who is mostly involved in Idle Worship’s upcoming features.
Hyman says that a roll-out to other platforms such as Google+ is also very possible – a mobile app to play god on the go is already in the works.
The question that remains to be answered though is if social gamers are willing to let themselves in for Idle Worship’s universe which -while being very casual and accessible- can become increasingly complex if players follow just a few of the many rabbit holes the game offers.


Idle Games Launches at TechCrunch Disrupt and Announces $9 Million in Financing

By Sebastian Sujka

At the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference yesterday, Idle Games announced the upcoming beta launch of Idle Worship for the Facebook platform. Idle Worship is a casual yet massively multi-player synchronous game where every player is a god, vying for the adoration and worship of both real players and the rather dim indigenous population called “Mudlings.” Players build up their dominion and reveal their powers to their faithful while competing with other gods for followers. New followers are won by performing divine acts such as conversions, miracles, blessings, and curses.

“Make no mistake, social gaming is the entertainment industry and in the entertainment industry, quality is the only sustainable business plan. We lead with creativity and innovation, while others are led by analytics and the previous actions of their competitors,” said Jeff Hyman, Idle Worship’s CEO and Co-founder. “The industry is almost 4 years old and we’ve spent half that time crafting the most ambitious game ever to see a Facebook canvas – we are pioneering a new model,” said Hyman.

Idle Worship is the brainchild of Co-Founders Rick Thompson and Hyman. Thompson led the company’s $9 million round of financing. Other investors include former Facebook Vice President, Chamath Palihapitiya. Thompson previously founded highly successful ventures, one of which was social gaming giant Playdom. Idle Worship offers players the choice to play both synchronously and asynchronously in what’s known as an “unsharded world.” This technology enables “everyone to play with everyone” regardless of what server they may be on.