Vodacom's Location-based Game: "Average User Spends $5.3-$6.6 a Month"

Vodacom's Location-based Game: "Average User Spends $5.3-$6.6 a Month"
There's something quite special about the real world being your gaming world. And that's exactly what players of Legends of the Echo, a location-based mobile multi-player game, are finding out.

So much so that it is generating a much higher than anticipated ARPU (average revenue per user) since it was launched three months ago by South Africa's largest wireless operator Vodacom.

A big attraction is the fact it's played in a parallel virtual universe based on the South African map, with real-world place names used to navigate, according to Vincent Maher, portfolio manager for social media at Vodacom.

“It's quite novel and people really enjoy this,” he said. “We have found that the average user spend is 40-50 South African Rand a month [US$5.3 to US$6.6], which is much higher than we predicted.”

The game was created by a team at Vodacom and AfriGIS, a South African LBS provider, that also developed The GRID, Vodacom's location-based social network.

From last week the social network has been rolled out internationally and is now available across the African continent.

Maher said Legends will follow The Grids' expansion and is expected to be available as a cross-border game in Africa within six months.

He said the spread of gaming is likely to be based on continent rather than country, but in the future it's possible that top players will be able to earn an international “passport” that gives them access to other continents.

“People could be allowed to progress through time and open up more of the physical world based on their gaming performance,” he said.

Vincent Maher
Vincent Maher
Vincent Maher
Vincent Maher
A need for critical mass
Before this happens, however, Maher said Legends has to reach a critical mass in the South African market. This, as with all multi-player or multi-user endeavours, is something of a “chicken and egg” situation.

The fewer players there are, the less appealing the game – and so less likely to attract and retain new users. As a result, it is going to need time to gain momentum but Maher said they are happy with the way the game is growing.

“Achieving that (critical mass) is going to take longer. It's going to take 8-9 months to reach the point where we are going to start gaining momentum in our user base,” he said.

“Until we support more devices user numbers will grow quite slowly. We are happy with that because it will give us the opportunity to tweak the game player before it gets really widespread.
It's easy for us to be nimble at this point.”

Aside from being at the cutting edge of mobile gaming one of the hurdles facing Legends since its launch in April is that it appeals to a market much targeted by mobile advertising.

So despite initially supporting 13 handsets - they also launched Legends for Blackberrys a month later - Maher said it has been quite difficult to reach that market in a cost effective way.


Monday, July 19th 2010
David Montgomery

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