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GSM operators vie for mobile games pie

February 19, 2007 12:03 IST

After tariffs war, GSM operators are now experimenting with the pricing of value-added services such as downloads of mobile games in 2007.

From price points Rs 50 per download for games on GSM mobile phones a few months ago, telecom companies were experimenting with prices of Rs 25 per download and this was set to fall down in the coming months, said Salil Bhargava, chief executive officer, Jump Games.

Telcos are also looking at innovative business models such as pay-per- play, game stacks, where packs of three games can be downloaded for Rs 100, satchet packaging, splitting of a game into various levels/ parts which allow users to download only a part of the game for a minimal amount, time-based gaming or subscription model and even a more interactive model where users can buy additional weapons, add-ons to enhance the gaming experience.

"Overall gaming is under price pressure," stressed Salim Mobani, chief operating officer, Hungama Mobile, which is in talks with telecom companies to introduce sachet games and add-ons to games at price points Rs 5-10 in the next six months. "At these price points the market will explode," he said.

The cheaper pricing and pay-per–play business model is already a huge hit with the Reliance CDMA customers which GSM players will have to emulate to get the numbers.

"In India, a hit game gets about 2 million downloads of which CDMA at price points of Rs 5 and GSM at price points of Rs 50 contribute equally to the revenues of the game," Vishal Gondal, CEO and founder of India Games said, and added that of the total 150 million cellphone users over 120 million were GSM-based.

There will also be a substantial increase in mobile-based advergaming, the use of mobile games for promotion of a product, resulting in a lot of free games being distributed and marketed. "Free games receive over 100 per cent more downloads than paid games," said Bhargava, and added that the company was working on three advergames.

"Mobile marketing is Rs 8-10 crore industry and is expected to grow 10-fold to become Rs 70-80 crore industry in one year and advergaming will grow at 350 per cent to contribute Rs 4-5 crore to the overall mobile marketing industry," said Rajiv Hiranandani, chief executive officer of Mobile2Win. Hiranandani is also in talks with a GSM telecom company and plans to launch a play-per–play business model next week.

In India, VAS, which includes SMS, music, ringtones, wallpapers, applications and games, accounts for 10-11 per cent of the overall revenues of an operator as against the traditional 18-20 per cent for telcos globally.

"We are looking at getting high quality of GPRS to improve the gaming experience, sourcing better content besides business models such unlimited package use and play per use," said Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea.
Sapna Agarwal in Pune