Hurry! Playfish is giving out this Curious Pet Society Kitten for free. Click here to get the kitten: http://bit.ly/aDtgRs. This freebie lasts for about another 18 hours. It’s about midnight Greenwich Mean Time right now, so this means the freebies will last until July 30, 6 p.m. or 18:00 GMT.
The kitten comes in a pink box. Looks like my other kitty is jealous of the newcomer!
Note: This article has been modified from its original form to protect the artists from being spammed. In true Pet Society Anonymous form, names have been discarded.
It was a real treat for me to meet the people behind the best game on Facebook. Here are some of the impressions I got of the artists and the Playfish London office in general.
They are an international crew. I had lunch with seven people, and only two were from England.
One artist was from Taiwan. Another was from Hong Kong. Two were from Italy, and one was from the U.S.
The artists all seem to love Japan, or the idea of Japan. At least three of them said that they enjoyed Japan Week the most.
Pet Society’s leading artist said that Japan Week felt too short and unfinished. This probably means that we’ll be seeing more Japanese items in the game.
The leading artist also looks up to Disney art for inspiration.
Many of them seem to love the game. As the office manager said, “Before I started working here, I was playing Pet Society. And I thought to myself, I have to work for this company.”
They are often surprised by how some of the items are used in the game. For example, one of the artist’s friends used the Volcano Mask in conjunction with a bird’s nest. The bird was singing happily as the volcano erupted.
The artists are influenced by everything around them. During lunch, an artist snapped a picture of a flower pot at the table. Maybe we’ll see it in the game soon.
They are surrounded by their work. Not only do they have the joy of seeing their art in the game, but their offices are covered with their drawings.
Note: This article has been modified from the original version to protect the Playfish staff from SPAM. Please be respectful of people’s privacy.
During my visit to the Playfish headquarters, I had a chance to talk with the Product Manager of Pet Society, or better known as the Banker of Pet Society. With a background in finance, this PM is relatively new to London (she’s lived there about a year) and even newer to the gaming world (she joined Playfish about two months ago).
What does the Product Manager do, exactly? She replied that she’s “looking after the coordination process between the development and the art, and making sure that everything goes smoothly. But a big part of the job is like being ‘the central banker’ for the game. It’s doing pricing, making sure that the exchange rates are right, and making sure that ‘the taps and the sinks,’ or the ways to earn money and the ways to spend money are in reasonable balance.”
She admitted that sometimes, her team’s predictions are off the mark, as in the case of the Limited Edition Peter Pan statue, which was pulled out of the shops due to lagging sales.
During our interview, the PM also talked quite a bit about how the company relies on crowdsourcing and feedback from players to develop new features in the game. In the video below, she tells us about the Volcano Mask that was released after the Icelandic eruption.
Playfish seems to have a slightly skewed idea of the term “limited edition.” Things that are in limited edition, such as a Leroy Neiman print, or a Bentley Brooklands, are pretty rare with under 500 copies. But there are 250,000 Peter Pan Statues in Pet Society.
More surprising than this high quantity is that so many people have already snapped these up. The picture above was taken less than two hours after the statue’s release. Let’s do the math:
250,000 – 241,407 = 8593 statues sold
Given the astronomical price tag of this statue (16,000 coins), we can assume that most of these statues were bought with the help of the Bank, where you can get 18,000 coins instantly for $20 U.S.
Let’s do the math again. Let’s assume that out of the 8593 statues sold, half of these were bought with the cash coins. (A very conservative estimate; I suspect that the actual number is closer to 8000.)
8593 / 2 = 4296 bought the $20 bag of coins
4296 x $20 = $85,920
$85,920 in less than two hours! And this is a low estimate. If 8000 people went to the bank to purchase this “limited edition” statue, Playfish made $160,000 in that same time frame.
If every statue is bought through the bank, Playfish will make $5 million off this item. The theme this week may be “never grow up,” complete with Tinkerbell outfits and Neverland scenes, but some of us have clearly grown up and grown shrewd.
Last week, I asked a Playfish staffer what was behind the company’s decision to open the diary to everyone in your Pet Society friends’ list. “Nelson” was a sport about being featured on the blog, and spoke with the game’s product manager. This is the manager’s reply: “The diary was introduced because the team wanted to give players a bit more info because some stats were taken away during the game’s redesign.”
Nelson also said that if I had more questions, the manager would be happy to address them. So I asked why the feature is called a diary if everyone can see it, and if it’s possible to get an option to keep it private. I haven’t gotten a follow-up response yet. In the meantime, I made this comic about the consequences of peering into someone else’s diary.
Note: I do NOT think the open Pet Society Diary is going to breed mistrust between players. I mean, come on, it’s just a game. A very cute game. However, like many others, I think we should have an option to keep the diary private. I would be really embarrassed if someone in my office—my boss for example, who’s connected with me on Facebook but sees a very limited view of my account—decides to go on Pet Society and sees how many times I’ve logged into the game.
A few weeks ago, Pet Society introduced a diary feature that told us all sorts of information about our pets. Today, those diaries became public, open to anyone in your Pet Society network.
This latest development strikes me as being a real violation of privacy, moreso than anything that Facebook has ever done. For all the criticism that Facebook receives, the site does allow users to control how much or how little of their information to display. Among the many options, there are ways to keep photos private, prevent random people from adding you as friends, hide your activities on the site and keep your game playing to yourself. But the new Pet Society diary totally blows that cover by showing how many times you’ve logged into the game.
I e-mailed a high-level Playfish staff member earlier today and asked him what was behind the company’s decision. I haven’t heard a response yet. In the meantime, I visited the guy’s pet to take a peek at his diary (pictured above). I was going to publish Nelson’s diary, just so Playfish would get a taste of its own medicine, but I’m going to play nice. After all, this is Pet Society Anonymous. Unless people indicate they want their names blasted into the cloud, I keep everyone to first names only or assign pseudonyms.
So instead of showing Nelson’s diary without the owner’s permission, I’ll show you Sushi’s diary. When the diary was first released three weeks ago, I had crossed out all the embarrassing parts. But most of my network has seen my diary today, and hell, I feel naked. So here it is…Ta-da!!!
1418 log-ins! Is this pathetic or what? No matter how bubbly or smart I may try to appear on the Internet, the truth is out: I am a game addict and I have no social life except for visiting imaginary animals.
As for Sushi and Nelson… well, after reading each other’s diaries, they felt a bit closer to each other and decided to take the next step in their relationship.
Yet more proof that my pet has a better social life than I do.
Ha ha, Playfish, you got me. I totally fell for your April Fool’s gag. I was so excited to see the new 3-D icon at the bottom of my screen that I started getting visions of Sushi as a 10-foot blue creature à là Avatar. I waited with anticipation as the game told me that it was filling my balloons with helium and making other updates to the interface. In the end, I was really disappointed to see that it was all a joke. It made me think of how “serious” gamers criticize the flatness and simplicity of Facebook games. It’s true that while Pet Society is adorable, the artwork isn’t as complex as say, Halo, and definitely not anywhere near 3-D. So for me, this joke was only a reminder of that difference.