BSB, the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and SoftBank, has launched TinyMogul (Mobinteco Pvt Ltd), its gaming venture, operating out of Bangalore. This is the fourth venture from the BSB stable. So far, the company has lauched:
– Launched the mobile messaging app called Hike (read this, this and this)
– Planned a portal with Yahoo Japan via a joint venture (which we’ve yet to see), and
– Invested in Y2CF (Hoppr), a location based services venture founded by former Bharti Airtel execs Mohd Imthiaz and Kabeer Biswas (read this)
TinyMogul’s First Game: SongQuest
The first of TinyMogul’s games is an Android based music trivia game called Song Quest, with music powered by Hungama.com. Here’s how it works:
– Players can sign up via Facebook or choose to play as guests, and choose from multiple categories of genre’s of music: Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood and International Music.
– Within genres, there are multiple options for quizzes. For example, there’s Best of the West, Bollywood, 2000’s hits, Dance Hits, Frontier Hits. If they’ve signed up via Facebook, they can challenge their friends, so it has single player and multi player modes.
– The quiz involves short clip of around 10 seconds being played, and you have to guess which song it is. The game requires an active data connection to play (we tried playing with the connection off, and it didn’t work).
– Players earn coins (virtual currency) for the quizzes that they play.
– There are a few cheats available, like in all quizzes: you can opt for two of the four answers to be removed, get two tries, or stop the clock for a short interval if you want to take more time. These cheats cost the user a certain number of coins.
– Players can also buy more music quizzes using coins, if they accumulate enough. Alternatively, they can choose to buy extra coins via the Google wallet (Rs 50 for 500 coins, Rs 100 for 1,000 coins, Rs 450 for 5,000 coins and Rs 750 for 10,000 coins), and then buy additional quizzes. These paid quizzes are ‘powered by Hungama’, by the looks of it.
Second Game: Shiva
The second game from the TinyMogul stable, Shiva, has just gone live on Google Play. It’s a running game, but unlike the more popular running games (Temple Run, Subway Surfer, Minion Rush) which has the view from behind the runner, Shiva has a side view. Thus, you’re not turning while running, but mostly avoiding running into things, or removing obstacles by attacking them. For old-school gamers, Contra, with forced forward movement (and a little bit of Super Mario, given that Shiva can become larger momentarily).
First up, this game has gorgeous graphics. The design is rich, vibrant, somewhat quirky (in a good way), with very distinct and identifiable characters, and looks like an animated movie waiting to happen. We couldn’t take screenshots while playing the game, but here are some from their Google Play page:
What’s particularly interesting about the gameplay is the introduction of a rewind option, where, if the user is dying (gets hit by an opponent or falls down), he can rewind and react instantly. Like with coins in Songquest, Shiva has ‘orbs’ as the virtual currency for buying items like powers like boosts (instant revive), shields, weapons and upgrades, and also avatar items, like a different hair color, gauntlet, leg guards, Tridents, Bow and Arrows, Guns. The learning curve is short, the onboarding is quick, and users have to react quite quickly, especially from the second level onwards. This is far more complex a game than SongQuest, and frankly, more of a gamers game. It is interesting and engaging, and at times, frustrating…the way a good game usually is.
Typically, players earn orbs while playing the game, and can spend them on purchases, but here, they can buy orbs from the store: 10,000 orbs cost Rs 50, while 200,000 orbs cost Rs 750 via the Google Play store.
On Google Wallet Billing
It’s also interesting to note that the coins can be purchased via Google Wallet, and, given that BSB is a Bharti Group company, not via Airtel Money or telecom operator billing. In any case, Google Wallet is a better option, since mobile payments in India, via prepaid cards like Airtel Money requires a one-time password, and telecom operator billing is, frankly, unreliable and deservedly maligned. It might not be easy for BSB to get telco billing across Indian telecom operators anyway. Billing via Google Wallet is much more easier, and far more intuitive. So, Google wins, even though that means that purchases are limited to credit card holders only. Eventually, BSB will have to get other payment options on board.