Palo Alto-based iPhone game developer Booyah will announce today that its two month-old location-based game MyTown has already signed up over 800,000 users. The free application has reached #7 on the app store, and is adding over 100,000 users per week.
These numbers — and the company’s eye-popping claim that average engagement is over an hour a day — are higher than those claimed by any of its competitors in location-based games.
MyTown has drawn inevitable comparisons to apps like Foursquare and Gowalla from reviewers.
But the MyTown experience is in fact a hybrid of Foursquare-style apps and games like FarmVille that dominate the charts on Facebook. Users can see nearby locations and “check-in” to them, but there is no pretense that this requires physically being there; instead, users check-in to one local business after another as fast as they like, earning experience points and virtual cash as they do so, much like in a Zynga-style Facebook game. As players accumulate cash, they can “buy” the real-life restaurants and bars they visit, which earn them even more virtual money.
For those of us who can’t see the appeal of Facebook games, MyTown is a step up, but not yet a dramatic one. Social gaming enthusiasts rave about it, however, and it is already generating revenue through location-based ads, the in-game sale of virtual goods, and deals with retailers. If it can keep users interested, a game that is centered around reading the yellow pages is sure to take-in tons of cash.
Booyah was founded by a trio of Blizzard veterans, and received $9.5 million in two rounds of venture funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.