Mobile Skill Gaming Service GameJane Launched in Finland

Trust Solutions: GameJane

Swedish startup Trust Solutions has launched its mobile skill gaming service GameJane (see previous coverage) in Finland.

The new web page is neat, demonstrating upfront what the service is about. It also nicely brings forward the player community activity, showing "today's top players" and their winnigs, latest logins, and latest game played in the community (with the option to watch instant online replay).

The mobile application also works smoothly. With your first login you're given 500 credits so you can try out the head-to-head play (and get hooked). You can always practice against the computer AI for free, but since all games are two-player real time head-to-head games, it's quite limited fun. One credit is always equal to one Euro cent (0,01 Euro). By winning games you win more credits (GameJane does business by taking a small cut from the bet). The games are actually quite fun to play even though they're somewhat simple, and it's easy and addicting to pick a match against live opponents.

You can buy more credits by credit card on the web page, or premium SMS texting a short code. The billing fees have been directly transferred to the consumer, though, so it's not that encouraging to get 50 credits with 1 EUR SMS payment. Anyway, the catch is, if you're good enough, you can cash out the credits you've collected. GameJane allows withdrawals minimum of 20 EUR each and maximum of 100 EUR per month. The consumer also pays the (varying) withdrawal transaction fees.

In the negative side of things, there's still sometimes "empty lobby syndrome" affecting the service - there have been times when no other player has been online, and you won't then stay long either. There are a few annoyances in the UI as well. First of all, why do I have to enter my login details every time starting the application? In this kind of service, of course, with real money involved, it may be you want to protect your account from others. But since phone is a personal device, at least the user name should be automatically remembered. One other thing is that there is an annoying beep used as part of the UI every now and then with certain text boxes or events (think about the old PC system beeps...).

Another aspect, which may hinder the virality and mass market adoption is that the first thing when starting the application it asks you to connect to the internet. It may sound trivial to all techie guys and more advanced mobile users as it's a connected service (also, the client is only 60kb, and seems the whole UI is loaded over-the-air). But believe me, that is something that will drop off significant amount of users in the mass market. It would be much better to let the user go to a menu first, and maybe demonstrate somehow what the whole service is about before asking to connect. This somewhat similar as with internet services where you want to get hook deep enough before you ask the user to commit (e.g. create an account). Another disadvantage is that due to the heavy use of network, a) you need to be on data plan, otherwise you'll probably lose your winnings pretty soon; and b) the phone battery is consumed faster than with standalone games.

Nevertheless, the service is rather enjoyable, and it will be interesting to see how Trust Solutions is able to expand the user base.

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Mobile Skill-Based Gaming by Trust Solutions

Trust Solutions logoTrust Solutions is Swedish startup developing a mobile skill-based gaming service GameJane, which was launched in July.

The service as such is free, but users have to bet credits based on real money in order to play against others. The bet can be set freely along some limits, and the winner will collect the pot, less Trust Solutions' fee of 10% in normal games or 25% in tournaments. Users can acquire credits by premium SMS or with a credit card on the website. The trick of skill-based gaming is that all games are based on skill rather than luck and played against real persons so it's not gambling by definition.

The service is currently only available in Sweden. Users can download the game client from the GameJane page, and register to the service via the client. The client includes a lobby system for checking your account status, selecting the games you want to play, finding people to play, practicing games, and checking leader boards. GameJane currently offers 16 rather simple yet classic games (clones of Pac-Man, Scorched Earth, and Tetris and so on), with more coming up. You can play against a friend or pick a random opponent.

GameJaneInteresting twist is that as all the games are played against another player in real time, your playing may also affect the other's progress depending on the game, so there is also some head-to-head interaction. Also a neat feature in the service is that you can see actual replays of played matches on the web page. The service uses open source technology Swimmer, and a thin Java client, which pulls most of the functionality and graphics from the server.

There doesn't seem to be that many users yet, but on the other hand the service is still in its early days. Looks very promising, though, all the basic elements needed for this kind of a service seem to be there already. Once again the success probably boils down to discovery and enabling solid micro-transactions in different countries, issues which are not trivial at all on mobile. It feels GameJane might have more leverage potential as white-label solution targeted to operators, which might allow for wider and faster distribution. As of now there's, however, no indication of what kind of go-to-market strategy Trust Solutions will use.

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