For us, GDC is mostly a time to check out and showcase a variety of iOS games making their way down the pipe. However, as one can imagine there's far more going on at a conference of this magnitude than simply a hotbed for pre-release games.

For example, we had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Gramble. Acting as a back-end for community organizing and IAP management, Gramble is reminiscent of the now defunct OpenFeint (or any of the other similar social systems that hooked onto games). However, while most of these other systems focused primarily on friend list management or as a means to pimp out other titles that utilized the system, Gramble seeks to also become a driver for charity.

Essentially, developers that utilize Gramble in their games make a commitment to have charity driven ads. The group works with a plethora of organizations and allows devs to select a charity of their choice (assuming the charity is on their list). Gramble doesn't take any money directly from the developers; instead the charity portion of it is derived from ads. Meanwhile, the use of the SDK is completely free and developers can choose what features to include in their games.

So, other than the warm and fuzzy feeling associated with charity, what else does Gramble have to offer? The core benefit that seems to be offered to developers in return is the simple fact that they will be featured in a community organization dedicated to charity. In essence, players that become engaged in Gramble will want to support other games that are also engaged in charitable contributions. This 'discoverability' can be applied to new games, or can be used as a method of rediscovering games that may have already had their initial publicity runs.

In addition to the charity slant, Gramble also seems to do a decent job tying in social elements in a seamless fashion. The beta version of the overlay looked smooth and well organized, with Facebook integration, along with the expected friends list, achievements,   cross-game chat and featured game sections that have been seen in other social backends. I was actually a big fan of the way the overlay currently looked, and while it was stressed that design elements weren't finished, I hope that they end up looking similarly to what I saw.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure if the iOS community is looking for another social platform. However, Gramble deserves some attention if only for its emphasis on charity. Unfortunately, details are relatively sparse at this moment; questions such as what games will support it or the entry criteria for developers wanting to incorporate it were unavailable. Still, it's a sure bet that we'll be seeing iOS games in the future taking advantage of this interesting system and I'm curious to see if it'll take off.

  • Blodia

    "Community organizing", huh?

  • Greyskull

    iApps for charity? PR stunt, like (cereal) Boxtops for Education. Donate by donating, not through marketing coated with an altruistic paint job.

    • Karzay

      Agreed. This is a horrible idea. Donate directly to the charity.

      • Binary Cultist

        Poor Gramble at their first GDC, this story us bull and not true, this isn't at all what they do, our games are with them and the model is so easy and cool to use. They also allow 100% to go to causes by giving love i think. This is a bad story, I hope A real Gramble representative speaks out. They with their partner have donated over 7 billion to charities it's all on the web. Seriously this is all wrong. I support them and you all should give them a fair chance. We are using some of their FREE tech that isn't even listed on here. I dislike this story :-( BC

      • Karzay

        I don't really need Gramble or their services, nor do you. I can easily place ads for charity or add a donate button to my game myself. Then I know the money is going directly to the charity. A portion of my earnings already go to a children's charity. I don't want to be bothered by ads in games, especially those that play on my sympathy.

        Gramble would do better by forming a team of volunteers to make games and donate all proceeds to the charities of the volunteers.

      • Binary Cultist

        I'm going to shoot back on this because perhaps I haven't put my full point across, charity is there for us but as a small indie it's a secondary bonus. The free tech they have provided us for social which as an indie we don't have the resource ourselves is totally changing our mobile and web games. They're looking at it in a totally different way to everyone else and focusing on social and core tech first. My close friend ported his games with Openfeint and believe me, this is morning like the pain he had its no wonder they're defunct as Cris says here. They let you focus on your IP and they sweat te social. I'm not saying it's world changing stuff yet, but they're not even a year old, i support them, they're good ol tech hippies just like me. This kind of company needs a chance. :-) BC

      • Illuminerdy

        I could not understand either of your comments. I don't mean to point this out to be a dick. I want to see a differing opinion, but I cannot decipher the meaning (for the most part) here.

      • Raguel

        Don't you work for Gramble? Gramble has a similar email adres for one of it's employees like your username.

        If this is the way you guys do PR, i pity you.

      • homosaur

        7 billion sounds like total BS, where did you get that number?

      • Binary Cultist

        Well it's not @Homosaur; you should do your research; Gramble's partner is the 3rd largest donor to charities in the world, donating 7.4 billion to charity cumulatively. They sit number 3 in the world for private donors. @Raguel, I don't work for Gramble, I'm a developer that works with them as Stated. I'm not an employee, I'm my own employer. Get it right people and focus on what is important. This is a great concept trying to make a difference with charity and games, it should be praised and I'm happy to develop with them. :-) BC

      • Raguel

        Funny. Google says different: May 10, 2012 – This month, we welcome our new Chief Technology Officer (aka Binary Cultist), Gerard Boor,

      • Illuminerdy

        Damn.

      • Binary Cultist

        Yes May 2012, if I do the math, that's almost a year ago, I now have my own company thanks and develop for Gramble amongst al my other customers. Why exactly are you trying to prove here exactly, and what difference does it make? If you're so eager to prove something I can email my comp incorporation details for you. Geeez, you're missing the whole point of this discussion.

      • Greyskull

        7 billion? 7 Billion what, Weimar Republic Deutschmarks? What have you been smoking?

      • Binary Cultist

        Euros @Greyskull

  • araczynski

    ...after he takes a cut off the top i'm assuming... keep your charity and crapware thank you.

  • B30

    And another social network, yawn.

  • sakara214ever

    Oh God. Now there will be iapps up to 200$. Just saying...

  • bigred447uk

    I'm in an antisocial network of one. Only a few close personal friends/family are unlucky enough to have to suffer my communications.... Oh and you lot you poor buggers !

    Charities would not be needed if the human race acted decent and shared the wealth. They are a great excuse for governments to do jack ...

    (No offense to anyone intended with this comment, and I hope this is an altruistic endeavour and that it does well if it is !)

    • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

      "Charities would not be needed if the human race acted decent and shared
      the wealth."

      Wut? You mean acting decent and sharing wealth with those more needy? Is that not exactly what charities are? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/elysiacb Elysia Brenner

    I do work for Gramble, and I took the time to write a thought-out response to this piece with corrections as to the misconceptions about our business model spread here. I am wondering why it has disappeared and why it is not being shared with your readers?

    • Greyskull

      Perhaps it was a hiccup in the commentin system

      • Greyskull

        Ignore that post, my finger slipped onto the return key. Perhaps there was a hiccup in the commenting system. Try reposting.

    • homosaur

      Probably because Disqus, I seriously doubt anyone is bothering to censor you. Tons of developers participate on TA.