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  |  October 31, 2011   |  Comments

Booyah pivots toward Zynga-like games; Gowalla and others assess alternatives to check-ins.

Remember Booyah, the maker of geo-social app MyTown? The San Francisco company says it's been intentionally keeping quiet in recent months, as it moves away from offering a location-based service to focus more closely on game app development.

It's OK to think of the new Booyah as a mobile Zynga, a Booyah rep said. Speaking with ClickZ News, Booyah CEO Jason Willig said up to 4.7 million consumers have downloaded its Early Bird game for 99 cents since it was released in late August. While clearly not as popular as Rovio's Angry Birds, which has 400 million downloads, Willig's company seems to have found new footing beyond Foursquare's check-ins realm.

"With a major promotional push planned in the coming weeks, we believe Early Bird numbers will increase substantially," he said.

On Oct. 27, Booyah released MyTown 2. The original MyTown app recorded 4.5 million downloads, and its iterations have typically involved more gaming features than Foursquare. MyTown 2 leans even more heavily in the direction of games, resembling Zynga's CityVille.

"Since March, we've made some tough calls to get back on track and have taken a disciplined, 'be the best at X' approach," the Booyah CEO said.

Foursquare Competitors Test New Routes

Willig's company isn't the only location-based firm to change course. Gowalla is now essentially a travel app. Scvngr appears to be on an evolving march to combine gamification, merchant deals, and loyalty rewards. And Loopt has toyed with reversing the deals process so that the consumer asks the merchant for a discount.

Nichole Goodyear is a strategic adviser specializing in social media for marketing services company Extole. She said when startups significantly alter their strategy it's to better position themselves for investor dollars. Booyah's investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers iFund, Accel Partners, and DAG Ventures.

Goodyear said three-year-old Booyah "has been in the game long enough where the startup has to show revenue and a monetization model in order to get [another investment] round from the VC world."

Showing incoming advertising revenue - from in-game promotions - to investors in addition to app download sales will be important, she said. Zynga, which has made most of its money as a Facebook app, has demonstrated that brands are willing to test game appearances and sponsorships.

Goodyear said, "So if you have [millions of] Early Bird downloads, you can turn to media buyers all day long and say, 'We have this new game'…We can get your brand in front of those millions of eyeballs."

Booyah's Willig said his company will announce new advertising partners by year's end. "In the past," he said, "we've worked with the likes of H&M, Disney, Adidas, and Procter & Gamble. We expect to announce a similarly impressive list of partners later this year and into 2012."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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