Social, Location-Based Gaming: Zombie Hood Seeks a Tech Trifecta

WHAT: Mobile game in which you scavenge real-life locations for tools such as water, energy drinks and bandages to fight the zombies in your area. Work with survivors to take control of your town. Zombie Hood’s integration with Facebook and foursquare allows gamers to share their activity and check in. Only available on iOS.

LAUNCHERS: Matthew Brennan (lead front-end engineer), Henry Cho (User Experience consultant), Daniel Eyles (lead back-end engineer) and Chris Spicuzza (visual designer and creative director).

WHY: Mobile games market was $3.7B in 2010 and will be a $7.8B market by 2014. Location-based gaming is in its infancy. Foursquare already has 10M users. The foursquare check-in process has a gaming element but isn't a fun game.

WHEN/WHERE: Parent company In Real Life Gaming: 2010 / Sydney, Australia. Zombie Hood game: July 22 / Sydney. Game to be updated by the end of August.

BACKSTORY: Matt and Dan had been talking about building a game on top of foursquare. The four friends checked in to a Sydney pub and unlocked an Australia-specific badge, but they wanted something more from the experience.

They started thinking, “It’d be cool if everyone that was using foursquare was a zombie and the people that used the app we built were survivors,” Matt says. “How can we put a game layer on top of foursquare that still allows you to do all the stuff like check in and post chats and start a foursquare and maintain your mayorships, but also something that’s relatively fun.”

GOAL: “The vision at the moment is to really build a location-based game platform that we can start to generate different games from,” says Matt.

: In-app purchases, starting at $0.99, on virtual goods such as energy drinks and health packs.

Brand integration with companies including Red Bull and BandAid is in the works. IRL also hopes to collaborate with large chains and small businesses to provide deals or incentives, such as themed zombies, for checking in at those locations.

REVENUE: Zombie Hood has an average revenue per user (ARPU) of $.22, which is half-way to IRL’s final target, Matt says.

COMPETITION: Shadow Cities, PressOK’s PlacePlay, Heyzap, SCVNGR, MyTown, Mafia Wars.

: Just under 3K downloads, and close to 2K downloads in the first week, mostly from the U.S. followed by Australia, the U.K., Canada, Saudi Arabia and Japan. IRL aims to reach 20K users by end of the year. Downloads have "exceeded expectations as we have done our best to keep the launch under wraps,” Matt says.

ON "SNACK PLAY" GAMING: IRL coined the term “snack play” because as Matt says, “We’re not a full-on game style game, but we’re also not a point-and-click app either. You can be one of those people that sits there and is playing with it nonstop for 20 minutes at a time or you can literally pull it out, click it a couple of times in under 30 seconds and have it back in your pocket.”

ON LOCATION-BASED GAMING: Matt says the space has huge potential and it should be possible to convert non-gamer Foursquare users into casual gamers.

“The smart money is on the location-based service stuff that has some other driver to it rather than just ‘Hey look, I got a badge,'" says Matt. "If you can tap into that casual gamer, people who play stuff like Angry Birds or Tiny Wings, if you could somehow tie that into location-based stuff that interacts with people in their local area, then it sounds like a good thing.”

WHO BACKED IT: Received $25K in seed funding from Startmate, an accelerator in Australia.




Decide between two avatars: one male and one female. From the main profile page, see how many points you have and when your food supply will run out. The lightning bolt bar shows how much stamina you have. Store loot you’ve acquired in a user-determined safehouse. From the Scavenge tab, search for nearby places to loot.

After clicking scavenge, you can run away or go inside. Once inside, users hold down the search button to look for loot. But the longer you stay inside, the greater the risk of a zombie attack.

Refer to the ZombieScanner 3000 to check the danger level.

Once you let go of the hold button, a screen appears with the looting results including points earned, health lost and items found. All of the items found while scavenging are located in the loot locker.


1. “How Location-Based Services Changed Social Games in Asia” (Inside Social Games, Feb. 8, 2011)

2. “Why Location-Based Gaming Is The Next Killer App [OPINION]” (Mashable, July 24, 2011)

3. “Location-based gaming: coming to location near you” (Venture Beat, May 11, 2011)


Matthew Brennan

Henry Cho

Daniel Eyles

Chris Spicuzza

IRL Gaming
Twitter: @irlgaming | @zombiehoodapp

Twitter: @startmate