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Jump Games Launches US Operations; Mobile Gaming Industry Woes

Jump Games, the mobile gaming company from the Reliance Entertainment group has set up shop in Chicago, and is looking to aggressively acquire mobile content licenses, as well distribute their own content in the US. Over the next few months, Jump Games USA intends to roll out content in the US market, and also make some key hires. Amit Khanduja has been appointed the EVP for Americas. They’re also looking for acquisitions in the US, and have hired VSC Consulting to identify potential targets.

Jump has consistently had an outward focus, and Salil Bhargava, CEO of Jump Games, had told me last year that a majority of their revenue comes from the International market; that is reflected in the licenses they have acquired in the recent past as well – the key among them being an exclusive deal with Manchester United for games based on the football club, valued at over $50 million. Other exclusive deals include those with Virgin Comics for their brands Devi, Ramayan 3392 AD and Sadhu, and for Fido Dido with Honest International. Jump had also launched a pay-per-play model for Europe.

In India, they’ve also tied up with Bollywood stars – actresses Bipasha Basu and Malaika Arora, and music composer Bappi Lahiri. Also note that another ADA Group Company has recently gone mobile with its games – Zapak. I wonder what Jump Games thinks of that.

For game developers, this international focus is due to better margins internationally, and the state of the mobile gaming in India, which is plagued by the following issues:

— Quality: many games are just modified versions built upon a “game engine”; there isn’t a significantly better gameplay on offer, and hence a largely inferior gaming experience. Games with really no difference in gameplay tend to put off users.
— Game Deck Management issues: Who decides which games are given a prominent positioning on mobile operator game decks? This is a qualitative issue, and developers tie up with Bollywood stars and movies, hoping that the tie-up will get them a better position on the game deck, and greater number of downloads
— Reconciliation of download numbers, low revenue share and long credit period for payment – read a related story here.
— Easy availability of pirated games: the bugbear of all mobile content: many shops which retail handsets offer pirated content in memory cards as an add-on. There are online groups that also offer pirated mobile games for free.

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