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After being in private beta for the last three months, Playyoo is opening its doors for everyone this morning. The site is aimed at casual gamers who like playing games on their mobile phones. Like Kongregate, game developers can show off their wares and interact directly with the people playing them. Better yet, anyone without programming knowledge can use Playyoo’s WYSIWYG game creator tool to create one of six game presets of simple games like pairs, tic tac toe, snake, and ping-pong. While the amount of customizations on these gaming presets is fairly limited, the titles uploaded by real game developers tend to have a little more depth. Developers with existing projects can simply port them over with a Playyoo-supplied template for Flash 8 Pro or CS3.

In terms of cost, if users find a game they like, they can download it to their mobile phones free of charge. The entire service is run by advertising, which shows up both on the site and on the games when you start them up.

What I really like about Playyoo is that it supplies each user with a customized “game stream” that can be tweaked similar to Facebook’s newsfeed so that certain game genres show up more or less than others (get a peek at this after the jump). It makes it easy to discover new content as it comes in. Likewise, Playyoo users can send recommendations to one another if they come across something cool or worth playing.

Playyoo currently supports a pretty massive variety of phones. It’s also nice enough to let you know how many games out of the entire library your phone can handle, along with providing a bandwidth limiter you can set to automatically cut you off of after burning through a set limit of data. While the graphics of the titles may not blow your socks off (like the upcoming Vollee service) you can’t beat the price, and the potential for the game creator Web app is promising for folks like me with little to no coding skills.

More screens after the jump.

The game creator is WYSIWYG, and lets you pick out all sorts of color and texture combinations. If you want to make your game more difficult you can even ramp it up with a slider.(Credit: CNET Networks)
Playyoo has a ‘game stream’ that’s similar to Facebook’s newsfeed. Don’t like a genre? Just get rid of it, and it won’t show up in the list of games.(Credit: CNET Networks)
Try games out on the phone emulator before downloading them to your phone. The buttons are even mapped out to the keyboard so you don’t have to be an expert with your mouse.(Credit: CNET Networks)

source: webware.com

If you sell anything online, whether physical goods or services, you’re probably keenly aware of the 2-3% (plus $0.30) lost through transactional fees every time someone makes a purchase with their credit card. This fee rears its ugly head whether you use PayPal, Google Checkout, or Amazon Flexible Payment Service since those companies are largely just passing on the fees imposed on them by credit card companies.

Noca, a startup founded by ex-Visa employees, is attempting to virtually eliminate transaction feeds by bypassing the credit card companies altogether with its own online payment service. Since $5 billion goes towards online transaction fees every year in the United States alone, and since online vendors have particularly slim profit margins, the company thinks that the near elimination of transaction feeds would be a huge boon for online vendors. Concurrently, Noca seeks to provide consumers with a more rewarding and more secure purchasing experience, thereby making its service appealing to both actors involved in a transaction.

While Noca aims to eventually facilitate online payments for purchases of all sizes, it begins with a focus on micro-payments, and on micro-payments made through Facebook in particular. It has launched two Facebook applications to test its payments system out: OneClick Pay and HelpYourWorld.

The former provides a simple way to send money to friends. As you can see in the screenshot to the left, the idea is to send someone a digital check; you actually enter your routing and account numbers into the application instead of using a credit card. This poses a significant obstacle to adoption (who remembers these numbers or carries around a check in their pocket?). But the company insists that using checking information rather than credit card information increases security and reduces the chances of identity theft. Plus, Noca is working to provide functionality that would allow you to enter your online banking credentials in lieu of your checking information.

The latter Facebook application, HelpYourWorld, provides a good use case for Noca’s micro-payment system. Since the application solicits $1-at-a-time donations for a series of causes, it benefits greatly from Noca’s lack of transaction fees (especially the standard fixed one of $0.30). Noca hopes that many other Facebook applications with similar micro-payment needs will use its APIs to implement its payment service.

As for the benefits to the consumer, Noca promises to provide strong and flexible incentives through cash back schemes, frequent flier miles, and the ability to designate a part of your payment to a charity of choice. The company also insists that its service will be substantially easier to use than others like PayPal, and that consumers will gain access to a much more comprehensive transaction history than they would get elsewhere.

In the longer term, Noca will become much more like a credit card company itself, providing credit to users through direct partnerships with banks. In doing so, it will be able to provide users with the same benefits of buying things on credit without charging vendors standard transaction fees, which it considers mostly oligopolistic fat. To make money, Noca will also attempt to leverage its user data to target them with tailored advertising and product deals.

from Techcrunch