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Times Internet Ltd (Indiatimes) has launched GameZone, a free ad-supported gaming portal on the mobile powered by mobile gaming company Hovr. This is similar (if not identical) to the Greystripe-Anand Bazar Patrika deal, which we had reported last year. Then, US based mobile game aggregator Greystripe had powerered ABPs portal – Mjoy4free…so the claim in the release that Gamezone is “India’s first free mobile gaming portal” is baseless.
GameZone is available only via Indiatimes’ WAP portal – wap.indiatimes.com. This makes it operator agnostic, but Indiatimes will have to promote the portal on mobile. At the same time, the free games might drive traffic for Indiatimes’ WAP portal, via word-of-mouth. The other option, for Hovr, would have been to tie up with a mobile operator, and launch it on the operators portal, which gets the maximum mobile web traffic. However, Indiatimes claims that the beta test of GameZone, launched in December 2007, attracted “hundreds of thousands of users” in its first month.
GameZone features around 93 games, while Hovr’s website lists 163. Hovr also offers an online social network around mobile games, and I couldn’t find a similar offering online at Indiatimes, or even at Indiatimes Gaming. While the games are free, they’re ad-supported. Ads are delivered via GPRS – so if the GPRS doesn’t work, the game doesn’t load. I downloaded Solitaire, and it took quite a while for the ads to be downloaded — that’s a big negative. Two static ads loaded before the game began – first one appeared to be powered by Hovr, and the second by Indiatimes. Another two ads, powered by Indiatimes when I exited the game. Hovr and Indiatimes will both be selling ads for the game, as per the release.
Update: Deepak Gupta, VP, Business Development of Hovr tells me that there is an online portal in the works. The company is looking for more tie-ups for their white-labeled ad-supported games product. The deal with Indiatimes helps them because of the sheer marketing and distribution that the media tie-up brings. India has anyway been the second largest userbase for Hovr. So far, click-throughs have been 4-8 percent.