Yes, we’re surrounded by brand messages 24/7 and the average American sees thousands of advertising images a day—but is there a game in that? According to young Spanish developer Javier Perez Estarriaga, there is. And this week theLogos Quiz Game is the #1 free iPad app (and #3 free iPhone app) on the Apple App Store.
OK, there’s a top free app every week, why should I care? First there’s just the unlikeliness factor. Why should people find identifying global corporate logos an addictive activity? Maybe for the same reason that spoof logo t-shirts have been popular with club kids. This is a kind of imagery that we all know and care about. Solving the visual riddles involves pattern recognition skills that many people have, but that are not widely prized. This is visual literacy combined with consumerist identification. Add to that the intergenerational appeal of something that parents might have more of a clue about than their children and you have a winner.
But like many young developers, Estarriaga, just 27, seems to have built this for his own pleasure, his own challenge. But when you go to #1 on the app store, different rules of physics apply. It’s not just that he has figured out an appealing game, in the process, he has gamified the quantification of corporate branding.
Think about it. The 500 biggest corporate brands engaged in a constant focus group of recognition. And because you can use Facebook and Twitter to reach out to friends for hints when you’re stumped, many of the users identify themselves with great granularity. Unless Estarriaga is even more brilliant (or devious) than we know, his app is probably not tracking all of this data, but with an update it could. Imagine a brand being able to compare recognition rates of their logo by age, by zip code or by “likes.” Imagine a brand being able to insert alternate versions of their logo to test. Imagine being able to assign brands Klout-like scores based on the information revealed by game play.
This all may or may not have been in the developer’s mind, but now that the game is installed on thousands (millions?) of devices around the world it potentially becomes a very valuable property. This is a great example of why Chris Anderson called free, “a radical price.” By giving the game away, Estarriaga enabled it to go viral. Now that it’s been spread virally, the laws of network effects make it very valuable. But only if he moves quickly, and then it will not be certain for how long this game can hold people’s interest.
But that’s where venture capital comes in. Given an appealing app with a large installed base, and given clearly identified paying customers (500 or more global brands) you would think someone could make a go of this. It could be worth a fortune.