Pogo is one of the main beneficiaries of this surge in casual gaming; at last report, they had nearly 16 million unique visitors per month. That’s a whole lot of casual gamers, whether they recognize it or not.
Pogo has over 100 games, nearly all of which are unique to Pogo. Unlike other casual game sites, Pogo concentrates on games that it owns. Game categories include Card & Board, Casual Sports, Puzzle, Sports & Arcade, Token Casino, and Word, with games from all categories finding their way onto the most-popular-games list. Nearly all of these games are playable online; fewer are downloadable. (However, Pogo has a thriving side-business in downloading other popular games, including titles like Luxor, Zuma, Jewel Quest and Big Kahuna Reef.) Except for this downloads page, Pogo’s primary income is through monthly ($5.99) or yearly ($34.99) Club Pogo memberships. (If you’re playing 14 hours a week, that yearly membership works out to less than a nickel an hour.)
Pogo has added a couple of other features recently. Every game you play earns you tokens. You can turn these in for chances at daily, weekly or monthly jackpots, or you can hold on to them as a status symbol (which a surprising number of people do). And now, Club Pogo members can use tokens to buy clothing and accessories for your Mini avatar, a more visible symbol of your success.
Pogo has also added badge books, to electronically showcase the badges you’ve won for personal highs, winning challenges, and other accomplishments. There’s no accounting for other people’s choices — I can find lots of other things I’d rather spend money on than an electronic display system, but apparently, badge books are proving popular, as well. Playing online means that you’re playing “near” other players, even when you’re playing a single-player game. Pogo has a chat feature that allows players to talk to each other. There’s not a lot of chatter going on, but when newcomers ask for help and instructions, they usually get a helpful response.
Even the multiplayer games are as likely to be collaborative as they are competitive.
When Pedersen listed the most popular games, there were several that I expected — Poppit (popping balloons to solve puzzles), Word Whomp (spelling as many words as possible from six letters), First Class Solitaire (the card solitaire I learned as a kid, with a couple of twists), and Freebie Casinos. And then he included a new game, Pogo Bowl. The Pogo devs have created a new style of bowling game, with a much more intuitive interface, and it’s catching on.
Pogo is expanding across the Pacific, with a closed beta going in China. Pedersen noted that they can’t assume a game will translate directly into a new culture; each game must be checked, and perhaps changed, to make it acceptable. Even a game’s soundtrack might be perceived as dark rather than amusing, and colors sometimes need to be changed to happier shades of pink and other cheerful tones. This surprised me, since my impression is that Asian games tend to be darker than American games. (I know, that’s a sweeping generalization.) My guess is that Asian casual gamers have different preferences than their hardcore players.
Pogo is also considering consoles and other platforms, but they’ll do plenty of research before making that move. … Hmm. I see they’ve posted a new game. Time for more research.
I like to analyze and optimize while playing games, so I much prefer games that require thought rather than action.
Evie is twelve years old and is an avid reader, especially of fantasy. Favorite authors include J.K. Rowling (of course), Brian Jacques, Cornelia Funke and Tamora Pierce. These reviews are her first published writing.
Will is nine years old and loves to investigate, especially dinosaurs and astronomy. These reviews are also his first published writing.
Jesse is seven years old and has just started reading chapter books. He likes Hank the Cowdog and cartoon books, especially Calvin & Hobbes, Baby Blues and Donald Duck.
If you're interested in the (roughly) thousand-year-old triceratops stone in our pic, check out the Dino Art. Some of the accompanying text can be a bit strident, but it's still a puzzle why Central and South American Indians knew pretty precisely what dinosaurs looked like over a thousand years ago.