In March, our users collected more eggs than there are people in North America. This was such a great month for us, we created an infographic to celebrate! Click the image to enlarge it, and don’t forget to share it with the Hatchlings community! Bravo, hunters!
We’ve teamed up with Aunt Sonie’s Shop on Goodsmiths to bring you our first-ever Hatchlings Auction! Up for grabs are five beautifully woven, limited edition “Handmade Hatchlings.” Made with yarn, buttons, sugar and spice, one of these fantastic five could be your very own touchable, huggable, lovable Hatchlings pet.
The auction is now officially open! It will close on Friday, March 29th. Place your bids quickly—you’ll want to beat the clock (and the other bidders, for that matter)!
To bid, simply enter the highest amount (in shells) you’d be willing to pay for your favorite snuggly snowman and press submit max bid. If your maximum bid is higher than the current Highest Bidder, we’ll automatically pull the shells from your account and you’ll become the newest High Bidder. If someone outbids you, your shells will be returned. If you win, we’ll credit back into your account the difference between the highest “Current Bid” and your maximum bid.
Happy bidding, Hatchlings players!
Let the Easter Hunt begin! All month long, we’ll be featuring bonus collections, special releases and a few surprises for all our Hatchlings players across the globe. We’re excited to share with you some of the goodies you’ll find inside this month’s Easter basket!
TONIGHT! TONIGHT! (the world is full of light!)
Name that tune! Also, we’re releasing TWO collections TONIGHT at 12am GMT: the next Premium-Only collection and a Super Rare collection!
Double releases, all month long!
THIS MONTH ONLY, we’ll be releasing two collections per week! That’s double-releases, all month long! One series will come out every Saturday (as usual), but the other during different days of the week—so keep your ears perked and your hunting mouse at-the-ready.
Happy Easter, Hatchlings!
There were meatballs, bunny ears and streamers—craft beers and deviled eggs galore! Happy birthday to all the forest critters in Hatchlings 2! Last month, we had a lot to celebrate: our 5th birthday, our first year as a re-startup in the Silicon Prairie and (finally!) our launch from Beta. It was a rip-roaring good time; if you didn’t catch the pictures, you can see them here.
The party was held at Winston’s Bar and Grill, a chic second-story hangout with a beautifully polished mahogany bar, velvet curtains and giant paintings of old men on the walls (one of whom, presumably, the late Winston).
We greeted our peers, mentors, friends and families as they walked through the doors—and within one hour, the place was absolutely packed. Abby and Kaylee made it rain drink tickets, and as soon as everyone had a beer-in-hand, Brad Dwyer, the Founder and CEO of Hatchlings, stepped onto a chair. “Shhhhh’s!” burst from the crowd and a general hush swept through the room.
“To all of you, and to many who aren’t present today,” Brad said in a booming voice, “thank you. We’re here because of all your support!” He held his drink aloft to raucous applause and cheers.
We ended our night with pizza, some impromptu dancing and a cupcake eating contest (as in, who ate all those cupcakes?!). The night was a major success. We all took a step back to remember how we got here, and who we have to thank—and that’s you.
So a toast to everyone: Hatchlings players, supporters, donors, our families, friends, and the startup community here in Des Moines. Another round, on us!
December was an eventful month for us! From the addition of a new team member (say “hi” to Karen!), and the New Year’s double collection release, we’ve been busy bunnies!
As some of you may know, we recently updated our digs, so to speak, by expanding into another office (sorry, Pongr). After several eventful trips to Ikea, a few internal dialogues regarding the best mood lighting for egg-semplary productivity—and someone got a new chair (that’s me!)—we are the proud occupants of a newly remodeled, renovated, BRIGHT RED office in BitMethod.
Downtown Des Moines is pretty primo real-estate. We’ve got a ping-pong table in the back, a fully-stocked fridge in the front, and a great cast of other entrepreneurs and oddities in between! Poker nights are Thursdays, long-distance lunch dates are Fridays. Downstairs is the Kaleidoscope, a hub of chic clothing retailers and cheap chinese food—you get the idea.
Welcome to the new Hatchlings office—happy hunting!
Welcome to the Hatchlings blog! Hatchlings is fast-paced Facebook game, known commonly as the World’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt, that allows users to find eggs, build them into collections, and level up to earn shells and points.
My name is Kaylee and I work as the Copy Editor/Contact Support Aid for Hatchlings. If you’d like to keep updated with our blog (and I’ll give you a couple of good reasons why you should in just a moment) you can follow me (@kayleecat) or Hatchlings (@hatchlings) on Twitter.
In this blog, we hope to provide relevant articles, gaming tips, updates and a community forum for our users. Most importantly, this blog is interactive. We encourage comments, thoughts or opinions below—just click “Leave a Reply” to join the conversation!
If you’ve got a great story to share about your Hatchlings experience or community, please let us know! We’ll dedicate an entire post to you as part of our “Hatchlings Family” series.
Check back soon—and thanks for playing!
Facebook announced today that they’re changing their developer terms of service to prevent games from operating on outside sites (like Hatchlings.com, Zynga.com or Farmville.com).
1.13a. Desktop web games off of Facebook.com may only use Facebook Login (Authentication, excluding user connections such as friend list), Social Plugins and publishing (e.g., Feed Dialog, Stream Publish, or Open Graph). When authenticating, these games may not request additional permissions other than age, email, and our Publishing Permissions (effective December 5, 2012).
1.13b. Games on Facebook.com and mobile must not share the same app ID with desktop web games off of Facebook.com. You must not use Canvas apps to promote or link to game sites off of Facebook, and must not use emails obtained from us to promote or link to desktop web games off of Facebook.com (effective December 5, 2012).
If this rule stands games operating outside of Facebook.com will no longer be able to use information such as a user’s list of friends, their gender, or their age.
This effectively means that no Facebook integrated game can exist on the Facebook Connect platform. This is an about-face on nearly a half decade of Facebook Platform policy.
For us, this means our users will not be able to take advantage of their full screen real estate and will be stuck with an ugly and distracting Facebook frame around their playing area. The only way to create an immersive experience will be by utilizing a plugin such as Flash.
They claim the policy change is to “focus engineering resources” but I suspect this is meant to be an attack on Zynga who has increasingly tried to distance themselves from Facebook but it is going to have huge unintended consequences on other developers.
Oddly enough, “mobile web” games are exempt from this new rule. Which is odd because technologically speaking there is no difference between a “mobile” website and a “desktop” website. It’s all just semantics.
If revenue is the issue there are better solutions… make Facebook Credits available to Connect websites (the tech is already there.. in fact they *require* it already if you’re on a mobile device) or if ads are the issue then start an Adsense-like program and allow developers to place Facebook-branded ads on their sites. Don’t legislate 3rd party games out of existence.
Feel free to tell them how you feel in the comments of their blog post.
Edit: After looking into this more, there seems to be a very simple compromise, Facebook could allow HTML5 apps to go into fullscreen mode by adding allowFullScreen=”true” to the app’s iframe tag. To support this please vote for this bug: https://developers.facebook.com/bugs/436162913102704
Over the last couple of weeks it seems everyone I talk to asks me about the status of our last blog post. There hasn’t yet been an amicable resolution but I thought I’d share a quick update.
First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the support and interest. This story struck a chord with people worldwide and we are humbled by the thousands of tweets and shares.
After seeing the post on Hacker News, a Google employee reached out to us. We had a half hour conversation on the morning of Saturday, April 7th and then another half hour followup call with the same Google rep and an engineer from their Ads team on Friday the 20th.
Speaking to a real person was highly beneficial in terms of understanding the challenges Google faces in dealing with these sorts of situations; it’s just a shame this issue had to become a public spectacle in order to get anyone’s attention.
What struck me the most from this whole ordeal was the number of people who have voiced similar “me too” stories (I counted over a dozen in the Hacker News story comments alone). From speaking with the Google reps, one tidbit I gleaned was that even if only a minority of traffic is considered “invalid” their recourse is to permanently ban the publisher. This seems wrong.
As Paul Graham commented, I think there is room for disruption in this industry.
One company that I think would be in a strong position to cause this disruption is Facebook. Every single one of our users hitting an ad was logged in on Facebook (which is why I find baffling that our traffic could be considered “invalid”). Google has no way of knowing or tracking this but Facebook does. Not only is their identity database a great source of targeting information but it is also an amazing anti-fraud mechanism.
As for us, as I told Google, I can’t promise there was no invalid activity on our account (our analytics and server logs don’t show anything obviously different between the 2010 traffic that Google considered “valid” and the 2011 traffic that was considered “invalid” — but again, I haven’t seen the data that led them to make this determination). All I can promise is that if there was invalid activity we were not the perpetrators. We have always tried to be a good member of the network and we absolutely understand that “invalid activity” decreases the value of the entire system. But there are far too many good publishers getting caught in the crossfire.
We have long-since moved on from this event. And while I still hope for an amicable resolution with Google, it’s not make or break for us.
And as I mentioned in the first post, we are very grateful for our customers. We strongly believe our users are our customers, not our product for sale. Our interests are best aligned in focusing our efforts completely on making a great user experience that our customers are willing to pay for. And a brand that our users are happy to support.
With that in mind we have decided to completely forego traditional banner advertising within Hatchlings 2 in favor of premium subscriptions and virtual good sales.
We will also be working directly with partner brands to create an immersive experience customized to our unique format.
We will have more to announce on this front later on this year but as a bit of foreshadowing, in 2009 we partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to sell a limited edition branded egg for $10 each. We managed to raise over $90,000 in 25 days. There is real value here and I’m excited for the future of Hatchlings.
Thanks again for all of your continued support and Happy Hunting.
After trying to go through the “proper channels” for almost a year now it’s time to share this story of how Google screwed over our startup with the world.
Hatchlings is the world’s largest Easter Egg hunt. We have over 3.5 million users spanning all 50 states and almost every country on Earth. We have been in operation for over 4 years and are launching our new version, Hatchlings 2, this spring.
In a nutshell: Google bid on, displayed, and then failed to pay for over $40,000 of advertising space on Hatchlings. They have since stonewalled us for almost a year, locking us out of our accounts, screening our phone calls, ignoring our emails, and making it a living hell to figure out what exactly went wrong.
What you can do to help: please share, tweet, and reblog this post. Help us get the word out so that others don’t fall into this same trap.
Since early 2008 we have been running the world’s largest Easter Egg Hunt on Facebook and hatchlings.com. We have amassed a loyal following of users from all over the globe who have spent untold hours collecting over 1,300 unique eggs and pets.
We are a bootstrapped startup located in Des Moines, Iowa and now have a full-time team of 5 and are currently looking to hire 2 more. We owe many thanks to our paying users for supporting us by purchasing premium memberships and eggs over the years. Without you we would be out of business right now.
Because of Google.
Our relationship with Google started out great, continued on great for several years, and in an instant they banned us, confiscated two months of our earnings, and have never contacted us again despite our repeated efforts.
Let’s go through a brief timeline of our relationship with Google. (Links will open supporting documentation or referenced email correspondence)
- February 2006: I sign up for a Google Adsense account.
- 2006-2008: I use Adsense on some personal websites with minimal traffic.
- February 2008: Hatchlings is launched out of my dorm room at Iowa State. I include Google Ads as a revenue model from the start.
- Spring 2008: Hatchlings takes off. The Google ads start making money.
- October 2008: Worried that our rapid growth might trip some sort of trigger at Google I reach out to Matt Cutts who sets us up with our first account manager at Google, Debby Chang.
- October 2008: Debby and I had our first optimization call and she made suggestions about our ad placements, etc. They first mention selling Hatchlings branded eggs to advertisers.
- February 12, 2009: Google raises concerns about one of my personal websites. I immediately take down the ads on the site since Hatchlings is much more important. Debby assures us on February 12 that “your AdSense account remains in good standing and any actions taken on this domain do not affect the performance of your other AdSense ads.” This is the only issue that has ever been raised by Google in regard to our account.
- February 24, 2009, Debby contacts me with an urgent proposal to release a Marley & Me branded egg to coincide with their DVD release along with a full ad-buyout of Hatchlings’ ad inventory.
- The rest of 2009: More optimization calls, good working relationship.
- Also in 2009: Google is still working on finding an opportunity for them to sell deeply integrated ads.
- Throughout 2010: more of the same. Good working relationship. No concerns raised about Hatchlings’ compliance, etc. We launch hatchlings.com to distance ourselves a bit from the Facebook platform.
- January 2011: We get an email from our new account manager at Google, Laura Sergio.
- February 25, 2011: Our last correspondence with Laura was February 25, 2011.
- April 18, 2011: So you can imagine my surprise when less than two months later we received an automated email that said “After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity… we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.” [emphasis mine] As we were locked out of our account we don’t know the exact amount of credited money that was taken back but based on historical data it is in the range of $40,000. This is for ads that were already shown on our site from February 1 to April 18.
- April 18, 2011: thinking this was obviously a mistake and that some algorithm had flagged us with a false positive of some kind I followed an appeal and reached out to our account manager, Laura.
- May 4, 2011: the appeal was summarily denied. Our account manager never returned my calls or emails.
- May 2011: at this point we started exploring what our options were. We found out that some people had success filing a super-detailed second appeal form itemizing the Adsense terms of service and explaining how they were not in violation. Although, if you’ll note, Google never even claimed we were in violation of their terms.
- July 21, 2011: after an extensive review of our records, the Google terms, our historical correspondence with Google, etc. We filed a very detailed second appeal. We also included some extra sources such as traffic stats and email records (not linking to them here as they contain some confidential info).
- September 2011-Present: Google never replied to our second appeal so we started trying to explore other channels to get this issue resolved. Contacting someone through their lobbying arm via a personal connection yielded nothing. Getting in touch via the Startup America Partnership was unsuccessful.
The closest we can get to an answer is “oh yeah we’ll look into it and see what we can find”… then silence. We still don’t even know what it is that we supposedly did wrong.
- We even sent them the full text (including the links to the supporting emails!) of this blog post last week before publishing with no reply.
We have been advised that to sue Google (even though we are completely in the right and would probably win) would cost more money than we’d get out of it. We are just spreading the word about what happened to us to help other startups.
The moral of the story is to be careful when planning your business that one “partner” company can’t pull the rug out from under you. While this is a story about Google it could very well have been another large “partner.” Who does your business hinge on? A lot of startups accept the implied risks of building on “platforms” or having big, faceless “partners” form an integral part of their business foundation without a second thought.
We were very fortunate to have a diversified revenue stream with paying users to support us and help us remain a viable business even after losing a large chunk of advertising revenue (and we thank our users from the bottom of our heart for that) but others wouldn’t have been so lucky.
Personal Note to Google: I realize that this probably wasn’t done maliciously and that we were probably caught up in some algorithm gone awry. And I also realize that for the amount of money we’re talking about you probably don’t even consider this to be an issue worth your time. But for a startup like us this is a huge deal. Feel free to reach out.. you have my cell number and email address. But after almost a year of being ignored I’m not holding my breath.
What you can do to help: please share, tweet, and reblog this post. Help us get the word out so that others don’t fall into this same trap.