It's December, so in the spirit of giving, I've been looking for ways to make better use of my phone. Specifically, uses of the Play to Donate business model, because it's motivation to continue developing the scrabble style dungeon crawler (see previous post).
There have been a few of these in the last 10 years, but they never seem to take off. In the Play Store for Android, I found three apps:
Give a Heart, which is the app port of the website of the same name. They have a simple catch the falling objects game, which occasionally rewards players with donation hearts. Donation hearts can be given to your choice of many charities, and they translate to 10 cents per heart.
Give a Heart has almost no activity, which is probably good because anyone with skill could produce more donations than the ad revenue being produced. The mobile port of the game is buggy, and playing it is truly an act of charity. I do like that skill increases the donation potential, although this is a tricky thing to pull off from a designer standpoint. A pity really, because a better game and a more active or aggressive revenue stream and this could go somewhere.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, by Fortee Too Games, is a good foil. This is another catch falling object game, but it's native to mobile and runs much better. In this game, skill is rewarded by unlocking videos of the ice bucket challenge. There are full screen ads between every three games, which is about one every 90 seconds.
42% of the ad revenue goes to ALS research, but there's no way to see your personal contributions. Also, being good at the game means seeing fewer ads, so if you're playing out of charity, it is tempting to throw games intentionally. Also, the game is only amusing for ten minutes, shorter when you realize the video rewards are YouTube links.
Swagbucks, is a paid to surf system with an option to donate earnings. It's mostly on the traditional web, but it has a mobile search widget that functions similarly.
Swagbucks has games, licensed of commissioned from third parties, but the large majority of player earnings come from other activities like watching videos and searching the web.
In short, for existing systems, either the games are ineffective or the donation potential is. Disappointing really.