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Angel's Choice: Be a venture capitalist for apps

A new game for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad lets you rifle through the Apple App Store and decide which up-and-coming apps deserve your virtual VC dollars.

A flurry of iPhone apps emulate real-life jobs, enabling the mild-mannered geek to become, for example, a virtual farmer, spa owner, city planner, and so forth. Now that AngelGate has come to pass, what better time to see what it's like being a venture capitalist?

Angel's Choice
YD Online

South Korean gaming software developer YD Online is playing a rather interesting hand with Angel's Choice, a free game for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad that turns you into a virtual angel investor for titles in Apple's App Store. After a quick registration, you're given several thousand Angel Dollars (A$), a daily salary, and a set of missions to increase your level through XP (experience).

Your goal in Angel's Choice is to discover up-and-coming apps and invest your virtual money into those you think have the best growth potential.

The missions (or quests) are fairly basic, such as investing in five different apps in the "Photography" section, which "is expected to grow fast in the future." Rewards for each mission include experience and more Angel Dollars to invest; you get further bonuses if others invest in your selection.

Angel's Choice tracks the App Store ranking of each app, and if you invest in a title with a low rank that grows in popularity, you reap the rewards. Those who have the most experience, profitability, or gain are featured on a "top" list for bragging rights. Swagger!

The app--which one iTunes rather calls "part app finder and part RPG"--is certainly functional, though not polished. I encountered several errors, slowdowns, and freezes during gameplay on the iPhone 4. Also, since the app is free and has no ads, I couldn't help but wonder how the game will generate revenue for YD Online. There's also the potential flaw of developers and/or power users gaming the leaderboard so their app will be at the top of the charts.

Despite these flaws, there was something unique about the experience, and the game did reveal apps I might not have noticed otherwise. I'm just not sure if Angel's Choice has earned its wings yet.