Spitballing
A Message to Our Players

Today we changed the way that episodes work in the Miya Before & After game.  The game continues to be free to play, and paid membership remains optional.  However, after today all new episodes will only be playable by paid VIP members.  We will continue to provide the first 5 episodes free of charge.  After episode 5, you will need to be a VIP member to continue to play the new episodes.  You can sign up for a VIP membership here http://www.miyamackenzie.com/membership

I know this will be frustrating for many of you who love Miya Mackenzie and the Miya game.  We really appreciate all the players who have been so passionate about this game and Miya appreciates her fans.  However, in order for us to afford to create and manage the game, we need to generate revenue for it.  We are a small company, and there are many costs associated with running a game like this.  In addition to paying salaries for employees who design, develop and manage the game, we need to pay for servers to run the game and other software to manage the site.  It’s expensive, so we need to generate revenue to cover those costs.  The game can’t be free forever.

We have worked hard to keep the price of the game as low as possible.  It’s only $6.95 per month, less than the price of a movie ticket.  VIP membership can be cancelled at any time.  And we provide a number of different payment methods, including credit card, Paypal, Ultimate Game Card, and mobile payments.  We hope you understand, appreciate your support, and welcome your feedback either on our help site at http://miyamackenzie.desk.com/ or via email at support@miyamackenzie.com.

Sincerely,

-Mike Trigg

Founder & CEO

Great Panel at LA Games Conference

I had a great time moderating a panel at the LA Games Conference this week titled “Kids Play: The latest in Merging Online and Offline Games.”  We were the last panel of the day, so I was a little worried we’d have attrition as people made their way down to the cocktail reception, but it ended up being a great discussion — driven by thoughtful commentary from the panelists and a fun injection of interactivity.  Each of the panelists brought a physical toy or game that demonstrated the ability to integrate online and offline experiences.

In this photo of the panel you see, from left to right: me (looking unusually pensive!); Michael Vos, Head of Sales-West at Kiip (who discussed Activision’s Skylanders game); Stuart Drexler, Board Advisor at Tykoon (who discussed Rovio’s Angry Birds franchise); Umair Khan, Chairman and CEO of SecretBuilders (who showed a video of graFighters); and Marcus Gners, Director of Business Development at Stardoll (who showcased a new line of Stardoll-branded dolls introduced by Mattel).

It was a great discussion and a great show.

Fantastic Fans!!!

One of the really fun aspects of growing our audience on miyamackenzie.com is all the fantastic emails, comments and posts we get from fans of Miya Mackenzie.  It’s incredibly fulfilling to hear from players who are so passionate about the game, the music and Miya herself.  Just to share in the joy, I’ve included some of my favorite quotes below — user names redacted, of course, but otherwise untouched in their original voice.  A set of virtual posters from our fabulous fans.  We couldn’t do it without you!

MIYA UR THE BEST NO MATTER WAT!!! XOXO <3

I LOVE U CAN WE HANG OUT SOMETIME PLEASE!

Thanks so much for including our son\daughter in this wonderful website. we appreciate it a lot! she has never found such an exiting account!

I ♥ this game its the best mackenzie did u make this its awesome its my only website i go on the best.

Love this song and love the game

I LOVEEE THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!! <3

THIS GAME MAKES ME HAPPYYYYYYYYY!!

‎”Beleive in yourself and you’ll be alright” -Miya Mackenzie ♥

OMG Miya your gonna make my dream become true ♥

i love this game it is sooo wonderful

Hello, I am a big fan of this game and thank you for making it for us all to enjoy.

Thank you guys my daughter really wanted this u guys are really great

I LOVE THE GAME IM DONE WITH EPISODE 5 IN ONE DAY AND IM SOOOOOOOO PHYCED FOR EPISODE 6 I CANT WAIT TO MEET JILLIAN AND GO TO THE AWARDS OMG!!!

Miya, you should make a book about your hollywood life! 

who else got goose pimples from the intro song

I ♥This Song and Game its so me

OH MY GOD MIYA!!!!!. i love you songs AHHHHHHHH!!!!!! you are so cute,pretty,talend and beautiful i ♥ you :D

Spitballing at LA Games Conference

I’ll be moderating a panel discussion at the upcoming LA Games Conference.  The session, which is scheduled for 4:45 on Tuesday, April 24, is titled “Kids Play: The latest in Merging Online and Offline Games.”  Here’s a description:

For the generation of kids growing up today, the line between physical toys and virtual gaming is becoming increasingly blurry. You have connected toys, online platforms, a variety of consoles, mobile applications, video game merchandise, action figures, physical rewards for online play, Kinect, Wii and of course those angry birds. So, what’s next in the intersection of games, toys and transmedia content franchises?

The panelists include:

  • Marcus Gners, Director, Business Development, Stardoll
  • Umair Khan, Chairman and CEO, SecretBuilders
  • Michael Vos, Head of Sales-West, Kiip
  • Stuart Drexler, Board Advisor, Tykoon

LA Games Conference is always a fun and informative event.  Small enough to be intimate, but big enough to have a rich agenda and meet lots of interesting people in the SoCal game community.  To see the full agenda or register for the event, go to http://lagamesconference.com/

Spitball Joins the Hatchery

OK, so we actually moved in last month, but our logo just went up on the wall last week — reminding me to post a quick update.  Spitball has a new home.  We moved into a super cool shared work space for start-ups in San Francisco called the Hatchery.  There’s probably 30 or so other start-up companies here, so it’s a fun, open, warehouse-y, collaborative work space.  Plus they even have great happy hours hosted by the bar tenders from Bourbon & Branch.  We love it.

There’s our logo in the lower right.

Revenue! :)

One year after incorporation, we hit a very exciting milestone for any start-up company: collecting our first real revenue from actual paying customers.  Last week we received and cashed our first revenue check for the Miya Mackenzie game (that’s me and Jenny with the fat check!).

This revenue was actually booked in January but the cash didn’t show up, after withholding, processing, etc., until last week.  It’s a modest sum — enough to buy the beers for our launch party — but it’s real, and it’s ours, and it’s probably the greatest satisfaction per dollar of any cash I’ve ever earned.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to our amazing team, and to our wonderful customers.

Spitball Featured in VentureBeat

Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat did a great feature article on Spitball Entertainment and our character, Miya Mackenzie, on Friday.  The story did an excellent job describing why what we’re doing is unique and a big opportunity.  It was also great timing, following on the heels of our participation in the Founders Den demo night, which also got some coverage in TechCrunch.

Spitball’s First Birthday

A slightly belated “Happy Birthday!” goes out to… ourselves!  Spitball Entertainment was officially incorporated on January 7, 2011.  It’s hard to believe a year has passed, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished in that time.

Each month of 2011 marked a new and major milestone for our nascent business.  Here’s my recap of the year in 12 bullet points:

  • January – Incorporated with the State of California and set up the necessary administrative details of becoming a real company.
  • February – Developed the concept for our first game: a multi-player, episodic, celebrity role-playing adventure based on an animated pop star named Miya Mackenzie.
  • March – Closed acquisition of several software assets that served as the back-end platform for our game.  Filed trademark for Miya Mackenzie.
  • April – Developed the first 3D character model for Miya.  Wrote the first episode scripts.  Created user interface mock-ups of the game.
  • May – Hired our first full-time employees and contractors.  Began software development on the game.  Started animating Miya.  Hosted several user focus groups.
  • June – Closed our first outside angel financing.  Hired our off-shore animation team.  Got a first prototype of the game working.
  • July – Cast the voice for Miya and recorded our first voice-overs.  Finished our first set of integrated minigames.  Produced our first original song.  Moved into Founders Den.
  • August – Released our first playable alpha version of the game.  Began development of an iPad/iPhone version with a working prototype.
  • September – Invited players to test the game and hosted play sessions with users in our target market.  Migrated back-end to MongoDB.  Finished Miya’s ten-song, original pop album.
  • October – Completed the intro animation to the game that provides Miya’s back story.  Developed first in-game episodes. Created Miya’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • November – Launched our first public beta version of the game.  Implemented our analytics dashboard and customer support system.  Performed third-party audits to receive COPPA compliance certification.
  • December – Started driving our first users into the game via experimental ad buys.  Integrated a payment gateway for in-game purchases.  Hosted our first live in-game events around the holidays.

It’s been a busy year, and January is off to a good start with another big milestone: our first paying customers.  No doubt, 2012 will be an even bigger adventure for us as we grow the user base and start to monetize.   Happy new year!

New BandPage on Facebook

Miya’s Facebook profile now has a new BandPage.  This social app plug-in creates a new section of her profile page, where fans can stream three of Miya’s original pop tracks for free.  The BandPage app also makes it easy for fans of Miya to get updates, view videos, and share content with their friends.  Check it out at http://www.facebook.com/miyamackenzie.

Strong User Growth for Miya Game

Since the launch of our invitation-only beta, we’ve seen steady user growth for the “Miya: Before & After" game.  Last weekend was our strongest growth period to-date, with nearly 500 new users registering to play the game.