Interviews

Interviews
PlayXPert: More About the Signature Edition

Suzie Ford | 7 Apr 2009 12:06
Interviews - RSS 2.0

PlayXPert has announced the new 'signature edition' of the in-game browser overlay technology. WarCry had a chance to catch up to PXP CEO Charles Manning to ask him more about the announcement. Keep reading!

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Thanks for the opportunity to share more about PlayXpert and our new Signature Edition Program. We're excited about it for a number of reasons and look forward to sharing the news about what we're doing with the larger gaming ecosystem.

How did the idea for a 'signature edition' of PXP come about?

It was pretty organic. Last year as news about PlayXpert became more widespread, we were approached by various publishers and studios who wanted to bundle our toolset but they wanted to have the look-and-feel of PlayXpert to match the game. We were really impressed by the things that publishers wanted to do with PlayXpert so we decided to move forward and unpack what people wanted to see.

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What we learned was very interesting. There are really three categories of companies who support PC gaming, each of which are interested in PlayXpert: Publishers/Studios, Community Sites, and Tools Vendors. Each of these company categories has one thing in common: they all want to serve the player where it matters most - while they're in-game or thinking about playing (on their desktop).

Publishers are interested in the ability to bundle PlayXpert with their portfolio of games and to deliver cross-game communication, universal chat across other chat networks, and unified community tools, and they have been interested in taking advantage of a widget api that leverages a development community to build add-ons for their games. The compelling thing for publishers and studios is that they can do all of these things with PlayXpert - and not impact their development team's development timeline. Because our system works as an overlay, we can deliver significant ROI to the studio or publisher without even having to talk to the dev team.

Studios express interest because they see how valuable our platform is in promoting games through the social fabric of the gaming demographic. Because we integrate with every major IM toolset (and subsequently can promote game play data across status messages), and have an open ended way for various tools to be built - we are the perfect mechanism to attract users to a new game.

Community sites are one of the most powerful, but splintered, segments of the gaming space today. Lots of people get their news from various sources. Often the news is re-packaged from one site to another, but usually audiences like the way a particular site provides its news (hence the following for a given site). For this reason, we wanted to make the Signature Editions open to community/fan sites and unify this otherwise very segmented space. The obvious reality is that the users who visit community/fan site are the same users who play the games.

Lastly, tools vendors are a clear candidate for Signature Editions. Although not a "tools" company per se, Bigfoot Networks has an amazing network card for gamers. Companies like Bigfoot Networks are going to provide a branded version of PlayXpert so they have an "In-Game Control Panel" for their KillerNIC network card. What we do is provide anyone who uses the Killer NIC card with the ability to control and configure it either in- or out-of-game. This is compelling for both Bigfoot and their users. Another example is GuildLaunch.com. GuildLaunch is a really cool hosting and tools provider for guilds and clans. GuildLaunch provides a branded version of PlayXpert so they can deliver their web-centric tools to users while they're in-game.

"Nameless MMO" decides to utilize PXP. Give a blow-by-blow description of how PXP would work with Nameless.

Great question. Nameless is a studio that has a game forthcoming. They are behind schedule and really want to make sure the launch of their game hits hard-and-strong to an audience of interested users. They also want to incorporate a variety of community engagement features that they want to release the basics for initially - but expand on over time. Nameless, like many studios, is trying to make sure they don't bite off more than they can chew - but they also know that they have to do something more than a simple "friend list" in their game if they're going to have engaging community features. In an age of Twitter, Multi-network Chat, Facebook, YouTube, and the various gaming social networks out there, Nameless knows that they have to "fit" into something so their game can be relevant within the social graph of their target user base. At the same time, 3D development is not as simple as web development and Nameless is very tempted to just add their "community" features "on the web" like so many other games do.

Enter PlayXpert. Nameless learns about PlayXpert and finds out that they can brand PlayXpert according to their game and deploy it as a follow-along install after the game install - not requiring any dev interaction and therefore not impacting the dev schedule. Because PlayXpert can deliver various community tools as widgets, Nameless decides to offload the community tools from the dev teams' responsibility and makes room for the key features that would have been otherwise eliminated prior to launch of the game.

Nameless decides what specific widgets they want to include in their distribution (the Nameless Signature Edition). Nameless decides to include the Multi-network Chat widget, the Web Browser widget (to enable quest research or other forum interaction), the Twitter widget (which allows for tweeting in-game as well as game stats information), the Arcade widget (which shows what games the player has so they can launch easily and also shows what games the users friends have - further promoting games through the social graph), and a Nameless Community widget (which is custom built for Nameless and delivers the community tools through web-services to the widgets without impacting the game's dev team).

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Nameless also wants to provide a screen shot capture widget that will upload to the Nameless website to further promote the great immersive graphics and promote the game among players. Lastly, and most importantly, Nameless wants to deliver a way for users to "reload" their credits for the game so that users don't have to alt-tab out of game to put more money into their account/wallet for further in-game purchases. This is another task that was slated for the dev team that can now be removed since it can be delivered as a widget.

In this scenario, after understanding Nameless' requirements, PlayXpert provides the branding and skin development for the Nameless Signature Edition, works with Nameless for their desired widgets, helps promote Nameless by virtue of the network effect that PlayXpert represents in the social graph, and finally, delivers key tools for Nameless in a way that is player-centric.

Deployment is easy and straightforward. Users opt-in to installing at the end of the game install. Nameless promotes the installation since there are cool, engaging community features available through the widgets. In the end, the user also gets individual benefit since they can download and install other third party widgets that further enhance their play.

What types of widgets do you envision game developers making/using?

They're already making some interesting ones. Most of the cool widgets are being made by cool tool companies. Publishers and studios are making game-centric widgets that really focus on supporting the game itself (economy, stats, forum integration, guild data, etc). The interesting thing is that in addition to bundling game-specific widgets, publishers and studios can publish the widget on our widget gallery further promoting their game by the widgets that are available.

What type of technologies will the PXP replace in games?

PlayXpert widgets address a core need in an evolving space that is very innovation centric. That's a long way of saying that PlayXpert is addressing a new set of needs that game companies are having a hard time adapting to quickly. If you think about it, community, by its very nature, is organic and changes very quickly. MMOs, FPSs, and really any downloadable game takes time - often incapable of adapting to the trend du jour of community or social media. If game developers leverage a universal modding platform like PlayXpert instead of trying to codify all of the features they think will "stick" in their games, it provides tremendous flexibility over time to adapt to their users. What's interesting is that their users aren't changing, but the ways you engage those users are... If game companies don't have to integrate this into the actual game client code - but they can still deliver a branded rendition of the data to users while in-game - they've achieved something very compelling.

Can PXP Signature Edition be used in all online games? MMOs? FPS?

Yes, any DX8 or above game.

Can PXP be used by console developers and be used by PS3, XB360 or wii users?

Not at the moment. :)

What companies have approached PXP to utilize the technology?

We've been approached by all of the usual suspects from AAA publishers to independent studios. We've been signing various partners and have a plan to roll out announcements in the coming weeks and months. Interestingly, we've also been engaging with various agencies in the military about leveraging our technology for heads-up-display applications since we work on any DX game (the game in this case being a simulation game).

You also have announced new partners. What is a partner's role with PXP?

We have a handful of partners we've announced to date. Today we're announcing Signature Editions with the first batch of partners and look forward to working further with more companies. We are really proud of what we've built with our in-game operating system - and we want to make it available to the broadest reach of companies so that the player can enjoy a standard experience when they multi-task in and around a game.

What are the benefits of partnership with PXP for both sides?

For the partner, the list is long. The partner gets to take advantage of three years of R&D building a rock-solid in-game overlay system. They can brand it according to their own identity and choose what tools get bundled with the distribution. With PlayXpert, the partner can take advantage of universal chat for their users that works in-game (exclusively available through PXP), a full web browser that works across any DX game (exclusively available through PXP), and a matching system that universally works across games and promotes games to new users.

The partner also gets to sleep at night as new advancements are released in games knowing that PlayXpert is keeping the overlay system up to date to work on any DX games.
For PlayXpert, we benefit by delivering a common operating model for players through which we can offer new premium widgets that generate revenue (for us and the ecosystem). All of our core widgets remain free, but we're providing an entitlement system that allows anyone to build freemium widgets which deliver enhanced, premium service to players.
Lastly, I think there's a great advantage to the player. The player gets to have the freedom to choose the best tool for themselves and their clans.

Please add any other information you'd like.

Thanks for the opportunity to share more about this new Signature Edition Program. You can learn more at www.playxpert.com. We look forward to serving the wider community. Who knows, maybe we will see a WarCry widget in the near future?

Oooo....a WarCry widget? Get crackin', you developer type WarCry fans!

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