Big Win Slots Twitter/FB pages!

As the seasons (finally) change to the one we’ve all been longing for, there are many things we can look forward to with summer’s arrival – the barbeques, the baseball, the beach, the fireworks – one thing you probably didn’t expect but will certainly welcome a few exciting changes at Mobile Deluxe.

We love each of our players, so it is our mission to do more to engage with you. That’s why we’re trying to foster social communities where our players can connect with one another, share your scores, discuss strategies, give your feedback to our team – and even trash talk about your winnings.

To make this happen, we’ll be unveiling Big Win Slots’ own Facebook and Twitter pages, in addition to our existing Mobile Deluxe and Solitaire Deluxe respective pages. We’ll be sharing the latest company news, industry news and events, and embarrassing photos of our CEO (shhh!) on our Mobile Deluxe pages.

To get updates on your favorite Mobile Deluxe games, you can visit the Solitaire Deluxe and Big Win Slots pages for up-to-date info, including game news, viral videos, tips and yes, GIVEAWAYS – after all, we know the way to your hearts (and Likes) are free coins.

Make sure to regularly visit our Mobile Deluxe as well. We’ll be sharing upcoming company announcements, insights from our team, and maybe even super exclusive information about upcoming GIVEAWAYS! From these social media enhancements to new product releases, we can ensure you Mobile Deluxe is going to bring you a fun summer. (The pool parties will probably help too.)12 Predictions for 2012

Software patents are broken, and it’s hurting our economy

We have an incentive system at work in the apps ecosystem. Angry Birds has been downloaded one billion times, Temple Run over 150 million. Other developers see the potential for great financial reward with their work, which encourages further development, risk taking, and invention. This benefits not only developers but also smartphone owners and our economy.

Ideally our patent system would be humming alongside this app freight train, rewarding original and unique ideas, conferring exclusivity on the truly novel. Unfortunately, it has been doing the opposite in many cases, creating undue burdens on this vibrant sector due to a few bad actors. Developers have grown fearful of receiving letters from patent trolls seeking nominal license fees for seemingly unrelated patents, written long ago in many cases.

Our system facilitates, even encourages, the two business models of patent trolls. Some trolls seek overly broad patents and pursue large tech companies for hefty paydays. Other trolls seek similarly weak patents, but choose thousands of small tech companies as their quarry, seeking seemingly small “license” payments.  With both types the initial math is simple: convince the target company that fighting in court is hundreds of times more expensive than merely licensing the dubious patent, even if you win.

In 2011, for the first time ever, more information technology patent lawsuits were filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs) than by practicing entities. I don’t mean to imply that all NPE’s are bad actors.  To the contrary, they play a vital role in a properly functioning system. However, more NPE’s have turned to trolling, taking the tack of accumulating older technology patents, devising creative and over-broad interpretations of what exactly is covered by the patent, then threatening hundreds or thousands of practicing businesses with lawsuits if the patent is not licensed. The license fees are always nominal when compared to the cost of a federal court defense, which is what makes trolling such an attractive numbers game for these unscrupulous actors.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is in the business of granting patents. As a rule, it lets the courts handle everything else. But with an expensive legal system and the granting of overly broad patents, the current system is simply untenable for the average entrepreneur.

Congress attempted to address the problem in 2011 with the America Invents Act, which gives additional methods for patent invalidation. However, in many troll cases the patents are valid, they simply don’t pertain to the target company’s business. Trolls seek expansive and creative definitions of their patents’ scope, sometimes pretending that new technologies are analogous or equivalent to the old technologies that the patent actually covers.

The first step in the solution is simple. We must offer an alternative to the two current choices: a full-blown federal court defense or caving to the patent trolls’ demand for a license. The oft-proposed small claims court for patent matters needs to be implemented now. It should be set up as a one-defendant court so that trolls cannot sue multiple parties at one time. It should also be set up as a loser-pays court to bring the scales back in balance for the current patent system.

Further, threatened companies should be capable of bringing trolls to court pre-emptively, for a ruling regarding the scope of patents asserted by trolls against them. Such a system would preserve the rights of bona fide patent holders while discouraging the growing scourge of trolls that threaten to otherwise derail this vibrant and growing sector of our nation’s economy.

Our country’s spirit of entrepreneurship and our technological leadership have given rise to an incredible tech industry, and in particular, a booming apps ecosystem. As an entrepreneur, this has helped me create a vibrant company of more than 25 full and part time employees. Our patent system must work in concert with entrepreneurs, providing further incentives without undue burdens. Living under the threat of being sued for an irrelevant patent is no way to grow a business, or in this case, tens of thousands of businesses. I have immense faith in our entrepreneurs and startups. I am a believer in our intellectual property system, and I believe that we can and must change our patent system such that it is part of this growth engine—not part of the problem.

13 Mobile & Tech Predictions for 2013

It’s that time of year: time to make astrology-like generalities in the guise of concrete predictions for 2013.  My charts were decent last year, so I’ll try to repeat that performance, hopefully with a tad more specificity.  This is (most likely) not an exhaustive list of all that will happen in 2013.  Some notable omissions include developments that will take place in consumer privacy, patents, the broader economy, and the startup scene (such as LA being THE hotspot for venture capital this year).

  1. Consoles have to be rethought.
    • Perhaps Microsoft or Sony can cleverly integrate with Android.  Otherwise, continued death spiral.
  2. Google will buy Facebook.
    • They may not, but they do realize that as we become more integrated with our devices, context, intent, and synthesis will be huge differentiators in search, and social is a big element of those.
  3. There will be better social integrations into the mobile app shopping and searching experience.
    • Search and discovery continues to be a huge headache/opportunity for all app developers.  Amazon has a huge (and under-reported) potential edge here.
  4. Me2 Games will be the norm.
    • And this is good.  This is how industries move forward.  A dozen subtle changes from a dozen games in one genre is the same as a dozen changes in one game from a seemingly new genre… the latter just feels outsized because it happens at once from a single source.  Likewise, new blogs will start, new restaurants will open, and so will new coffee shops.
  5. We’ll be no closer to legalized mobile gaming in the US at the end of the year.
    • This had a lot more momentum when states felt like they needed a lot more money.
  6. UA rates for mobile games will stabilize.
    • December 2012 was less expensive per user than December 2011.  We’re seeing more devices, and more channels for UA.  I think we’re also seeing game publishers recalculate LTV’s and/or the timeframe in which LTV’s are earned, and ratcheting down some UA thresholds.
  7. Mobile game publishers will continue to stratify.
    • First, there’s been a real stranglehold on the prized feature slots by just a few publishers this year.  (I don’t know how much more encouragement I need to download N.O.V.A.3)  Second, with all the focus on how much SuperCell is making at the top of the charts, there wasn’t as much focus on their daily marketing spend of $60,000.  I’m not sure how much that equates to per month, but I bet it’s more than most devs spend on user acquisition in a lifetime.
  8. Activision’s market cap will come down this year, but they’ll still be #1.
    • Toys… physical goods, are their biggest growth segment… which is fine, just not fine for a video game company.  And they simply haven’t ventured into mobile in a significant enough way.
  9. Zynga will figure out how to run games with fewer people (or at least, they better).
    • Incredible that they have to shutter games with the number of people (a lot) and the number of games (a few) they had (mind boggling).  They consciously went down the path of recruiting from the biggest, heaviest, oldest-schooliest console publisher, and brought all of those bad old traits to their previously nimble, disruptive company.  Their focus for the future appears to be doubling down on this bet, which is not a recipe for success.
  10. RIM doesn’t return to prominence.
    • In a Q4 interview, one of their dev relations managers said that they already had all of the important devs on board for BB10.  Wow.  I hope other developers didn’t read the same article.  But even then, does getting all the same software that’s available on iOS, Amazon and Android enable them to regain market share?
  11. Neither does THQ.
    • They have an opportunity to reformulate as a nimble, novel company… but they seem to be staying the course of heavy games (big development, big license, big retail price) on heavy devices.
  12. Apple will tout device security with the iPhone 5s.
    • They usually focus on more cool-consumer features, but this is a big advantage for them in 2013.
  13. Mobile Web vs. Apps will still not be a debate.
    • It’s apps.  It’s native.  (It’s freemium and ads, too; I heard that was still being debated.)


Big Win Blackjack Wins Big

Blackjack is one of those casino games where I intellectually internalize that I’ve got the best chances to win, and yet almost every time I walk away from a table I’m shorter in my stack and lighter in my pocket.  I think to myself, “there’s a finite number of possibilities, and I know there’s a system to beat the house; but I’m just gonna go with ‘round numbers’ and a liquor-infused mental abacus to win some money.”

I know.  The attitude isn’t strategic, but there’s got to be a ton of folks who think similarly.

So what if there was a way for me to learn to beat the house without reading a book or being an MIT nerd?  What if there was a way for me to see enough hands to get a feel for what the card count is, and when I should raise/lower my bet?  And what if this came in an app I could play on my fancy iPad or my badass Galaxy Nexus Android phone?

Well the press recently caught wind that we’ve delivered on this theoretical in Big Win Blackjack where Professor Blackjack teaches players when to hit, stand, double down, or split.  Huffington Post’s says that Big Win Blackjack “is designed to train players in the ways of card counting [and] make better judgment calls to thus win big.”  Technorati picked up the story by pointing out the popularity of games companies clamoring for casino titles due to a recent announcement by the US Department of Justice (even though we’ve been perfecting blackjack apps well before this buzz since March 2006).  Technorati was also kind enough to plug some Josh Hartwell (CEO) sound bites like “it teaches users everything they need to know about the game with premium graphics and fluid gameplay”.

The article that led to all of this commotion was Dean Takahashi’s piece in Venture Beat where he humbly compared us to Zynga and originated the clap that echoed: casino games are here in a big way.  Takahashi’s assessment is on point that “casino game makers are going through a renewal”, especially since smartphones let people practice their favorite Vegas game between various moments of their lives.

This is the very reason why Big Win Blackjack is so amazing.  You can be standing in a line or sitting on a toilet, and actually improve your real-world card playing skills.  It’s not that a game has gained popularity due to a decision on public policy; it’s that a game has always been popular and we’re making it easily accessible to learn, practice, and improve.

Amazon In-App Purchases (IAP) Arrives!

Amazon just announced their In-App Purchasing (IAP) service and called out Mobile Deluxe as an early partner in implementation for the Amazon Appstore.  We’re mega-excited when this goes live since we’ve done exceptionally well with our other IAP-supported games on (ahem!) Apple’s App Store and Google Play (formerly known as Android Market).  And if we’re to believe Flurry’s stats on revenue per user by platform, it’s abundantly clear that our games need to be on all 3 platforms (especially since our games refute Flurry’s findings about lack of performance with Google Play).  Expectations of success are even higher since Amazon contributed to our highest single-day downloads for Solitaire Deluxe when it was featured as their Free App of the Day.

I’m personally a huge fan (and an Amazon Prime evangelist), and have long-praised their ability to merchandise the hell out of their partners’ products [if you haven’t seen their seamless promo spots in their Instant Video, you’re missing out on some bitchin’ salesmanship].  Multiply this core competency with an ever-expanding user base of Kindle Fires, and you get an equation of over 10 million tablet users who are 1-Click away from buying something as soon as they fall in love with your app.  In our case, we hope those folks fall in love with Big Win Slots and Big Win Blackjack!