Mobile games represent a tremendous opportunity for app developers, app stores, carriers and other wireless industry players. According to data from Distimo, the "vast majority" of the monthly revenue generated by Apple's App store and Google Play comes from games.
"Looking at the Top 400 Overall Grossing [apps], 48 percent of all apps ... were games and those apps generated 92 percent of the revenue for Google Play in September 2013," Distimo said in an Oct. 31 blog post. In Apple's App Store, 52 percent of the top apps were games, and those generated 79 percent of the App Store's revenue.
Some areas of the world offer particularly great opportunities. For example, in Korea last month, 94 percent of Google Play revenue was from games, according to Distimo.
It's with this knowledge that Playphone, a platform for mobile, social gaming, announced a partnership with carrier Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) Nov. 5.
WePlay, Playphone's mobile gaming portal, will come preinstalled on Android smartphones sold by SingTel and eventually its "regional associates," PlayPhone said in a statement, bringing its reach in the area to close to 480 million customers.
PlayPhone Chief Marketing Officer Anders Evju called the deal a "huge win" for the company's "family of developers." The type of exposure it offers, he added in a statement, "is unrivaled by other platforms. These numbers stimulate the entire gaming ecosystem."
Some of the countries SingTel covers are more developed than others. In areas like Indonesia, "Smartphone numbers are still low," PlayPhone CEO Ron Czerny told eWEEK on a call. "Customers buy a smartphone for the first time and they'll see [WePlay], which is very important. We've seen the success of other gaming platforms in developed countries and this is a great opportunity."
"We're super-excited about this, because we see a job to be done," said Gurjot Pal Singh, director of group strategy and partnerships at SingTel, who was also on the call.
"There are so many games in the Android ecosystem ... developers face a big problem in getting discovered. A key thing we're building is a recommendations engine. It used great algorithms ... to get the right games to the right users."
Singh added that the platform also addresses the issue of payment. Prepaid is the dominant model in the markets SingTel serves, and many customers don't have access to a bank account. WePlay supports app downloads through telco billing.
Additionally, there's a developer portal through which developers can upload games and choose which markets to sell to, said Singh.
"In Indonesia, China [and other markets], they don't have as many avenues to push new apps to users," he continued. With WePlay, "developers can sign up to the portal and in 10 or 12 days have a game out across the world."
PlayPhone also understands that gamers want to show off their scores and play and interact with friends.
"We have a Facebook Connect button that can be used to share scores or invite friends to play with you," said Singh. "We'll support all social networks; plus you can port all of your [gaming] contacts to your phone and share with your friends the games you're playing."
(While focused primarily on the crowded Android market, PlayPhone supports HTML5, so any device can play through a browser.)
In August, PlayPhone announced a deal with Verizon Wireless, which preloaded a PlayPhone gaming portal on the HTC One and LG Enact. The company also has deals with AT&T, Sprint and Brazil's Claro.
With its new partnership, said Czerny, PlayPhone has the potential to reach 800 million mobile users.
With agreements still to be announced, he added, "We'll hopefully surpass 1 billion in 2014."