SpyMaster or SpamMeister

5th June 2009

Over the last couple of weeks, Spymaster has become quite a talking point on twitter. Spymaster is an online game, in which the only way to succeed is to let it tweet messages from your twitter account, each of which are appended with the tag '#spymaster'.

You can see people currently playing the game by searching for the game's tag.

The incentive to succeed means that the '#spymaster' tag has appeared in most people's twitter stream, in turn increasing the game's profile and attracting more players. In effect, this has made the game very viral, news of it spread quickly and within a few days, virtually all regular twitter users had heard of it.

Here is a Google trend showing Spymaster's growth in popularity during May 2009.

Spymaster popularity trend

Impressively, the game's creators have hooked straight into the heart of what makes a viral message. Unlike a YouTube video where only the most impressed watchers chose to share the link with friends or colleagues, Spymaster is centered on the sending of the message. Making communication of the message compulsory. Genius!

Unfortunately for Spymaster the game has a horrific flaw. The tweets don't add any value to non-players. Simply informing them that their friend is playing is unimportant and annoying. In effect, the Spymaster tweets are plain old spam. No one enjoys receiving spam, so followers of Spymaster players may chose to unfollow the person that was broadcasting.

For many, the chance of someone unfollowing you is too big of a risk to take. Gathering twitter followers is a slow and difficult process and any product or service that pushes followers away is not going to be popular.

This flaw ensured that it was quickly rejected by serious twitter users, those that use the medium for business and marketing. However, informal twitterers may find it a welcome distraction.

We will have to wait and see if it's growth continues. Personally, I think the creaters will have to go back to he drawing board to find the killer twitter app they sought to create.