Naspers owned social networking site Ibibo has launched the “Great Indian Parking wars” (TGIPW) game on Aircel, and intends to expand the offering to other such games as well. TGIPW is similar to FarmVille, Mafia Wars,Vampires, Cafe World and FishVille from Zynga. Previously, Ibibo had launched Ibibo Farms, remarkably similar to another similar product called Happy Farm (app). In case of TGIPW, which can be played both via Internet and Mobile Internet, you own a street and vehicles, and have to park your vehicle on other friends’, sometimes damage others’ vehicles, as well as collect (virtual) money from others for parking in your no-parking zone. These games usually rely on advertising and micro-transactions for monetization: they’re highly addictive, as users try to out-do their friends. Update: Rob, in the comments, points us towards “the original Parking Wars game” on Facebook.
It’s interesting to note that ibibo has integrated telecom operator billing for TGIPW: I was billed Rs. 3 by Bharti Airtel for downloading 5 iCoins on THIPW, which can I use for buying new cars or accessories on TGIPW. Ibibo CEO Ashish Kashyap confirmed that the company also has billing relationships with Aircel; we’re awaiting more details on other operator relationships. This is the first instance that I’ve come across, where billing for micro-transactions have been allowed by telecom operators. This way, the telecom operator monetizes both the usage (data charges) and transactions, while ibibo probably gets a revenue share.
iCoins are priced at Rs. 3 for 5 iCoins, Rs 7 for 12 iCoins, Rs. 15 for 25 iCoins, Rs. 20 for 40 iCoins, Rs. 25 for 50 iCoins, Rs. 30 for 60 iCoins. You can try out the game off-deck, like I did. at http://m.ibibo.com/pw. Tencent, which owns close to 50% in Ibibo, is China’s largest online game operator and instant messaging platform, with its “Internet Value Added Services” (IVAS) business accounting for 3.39 billion yuan ($10.96 million) in the Jan-March 2010 quarter. Tencent has a quarter of China’s estimated 7.82 billion yuan gaming market for the quarter, followed by Shanda Games and NetEase.com, according to Beijing-based Analysys International.
Off Deck VAS’ Pipe Dreams
Perhaps, this is a small step towards telecom operators offering their billing solutions in a standardized format. We’d like to remind of a discussion that took place two years ago at a TRAI Open House discussion on Mobile Value Added Services. Netcore MD Rajesh Jain had suggested then that the revenue share agreement between telecom operators and VAS companies should be standardized, and transparent:
-– If only billing capabilities of carriers are used, off-deck VAS companies should pay 15 percent and the content provider should get to keep 85 percent.
— At the other extreme, if operator billing and infrastructure, promotions etc are used, then carriers should keep upto 85 percent, and 15 percent should be given to the VAS company.