Location-based services like Foursquare have just entered India, but around the world they have already started to get a little crowded. One way of standing out in the location game is to focus on the “game” part of these services. Without badges and titles, there was no incentive to activate Foursquare, and the deals followed later. Google Latitude sat unused for a long time because people had no incentive to share their location, but by adding a gaming layer, services like Foursquare unlocked the potential of the technology.
Taking it further, companies are now starting to see that location can be used to do more than just check-ins. One example of that is PlayUp, an international mobile gaming company which is built around social gaming for live sports. The idea is simple – the core of the company is games, which are updated live as a real sporting event progresses, that test your knowledge and understanding of the game, or just your luck in some cases. You could be asked questions, for example, about the scoring for the next over, and if you get it right, you win points. The game has a social layer built in, so that your friends all get to know about it too.
Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO, PlayUp, said, “When guys gather together and watch a game, they try and show off how much they know about the game going on. They’ll make predictions about the next over and back it up with mad logic. We give the same feeling, of watching a game with your friends or watching it in a bar, wherever you are.”
Where location comes in though, is that you can check into a stadium, watching a live game, and the service will offer even more options then. Kulshrestha said, “You can challenge people watching the match in your location to a game, or be awarded a badge as the most knowledgeable player watching the match in the stadium, or know how many people in the bar watching the match are supporting the same team as you. There are a lot of possibilities.”
At the same time, PlayUp has not just been focussing on smartphones and high end connections. Kulshrestha said, “Right now, we have made India our cricket hub, just like the UK is our football hub. We have tie-ups with FIFA, and with the PGA and the NHL, which is where our revenue comes from, and we are trying to do the same with the ICC and the BCCI, and our goal is to get as many people to play as possible, so we’re operating using SMS shortcodes right now.”
He added, “The reach is great, and people everywhere love cricket, not just in the big cities, though we’ll be bringing our games to people through the mobile Internet and through apps as well, but using SMS has really gotten a lot of traction in India right now. In the final of the semis and the final of the IPL, we got 30,000 to 40,000 entries for each innings that was played, so that’s a lot of people when you consider that there are 160 matches in the next four months, and we didn’t even have to advertise.”
The company launched three new games on February 11, 2011, built specially for the ICC World Cup 2011, and would be launching one more for the Indian Premier League soon, along with a marketing campaign, Kulshrestha added.
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