The funny guys behind CollegeHumor and game development studio Awkward Hug have created the media brand's first mobile game, Bout. The basic conceit is very similar to Apples to Apples: One player chooses a "challenge" for the other players in the round to complete, such as "Do your best Spider-Man" or "The worst Mother's Day gift." Each player in the round has to take a photo in response to the prompt, and the initiator blindly chooses a winner based on the submissions.
Bout riffs on the asynchronous nature of games such as Draw Something or Letterpress, which don't require players to be present at the same time to play a game. And unlike most turn-based games, Bout is designed for up to six players per round. At the end of each round, you can export mini photo collages of all the submissions to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Creator and CollegeHumor cofounder Ricky Van Veen says these post-game "postcards," which let players immortalize their game rounds as memes, are what will compel users to return to Bout.
"I've never seen a game where the result of the game is interesting, say, a completed crossword puzzle, or a played Monopoly board," he says. "But in my Bout feed, it’s joke after joke after joke. The by-product of the game is content."
Bout doesn't initially feature ads, but Van Veen says he could envision a company eventually sponsoring either individual challenges or the daily Global Bout, which poses one challenge a day to all players. If the idea of branded prompts sounds familiar, it's because that's exactly how Zynga planned to turn Draw Something into a moneymaker.
For now, Bout's business model relies on in-app purchases of coins, which allow players to purchase privileges in the game, such as the ability to create your own challenge prompt or have more than two games going simultaneously. The prices are steep—coin bundles start at $1.99 and there's an actual option to purchase a $24.99 pack. Combine that with the fact that (aside from the daily Global Bout) you can only play with your friends, and you start to question Bout's viral potential.
"It means we have to grow from a strong, small core instead of blasting it out wide, but I think that’s the best way to do it," Van Veen says. "If I signed up as a user and I was playing with people I didn’t really know, I wouldn’t have as much fun."