After downloading the 3 MB package from here, the installer showed us the service is available in English, German, French and Spanish. Like any app that wants to have a prominent position, it suggests we should make it available on the desktop, start menu and quickstart. Since I don’t expect to buy a new game every day, just the start menu will do. The rest of the installation goes without questions.
Running for the first time
The application starts pretty fast and immediately asks me to register in order to get the first game for 1 Euro. I guess all you UK consumers are a bit unlucky there though as the conversion rate from Euro to Pounds is 1 on 1.
The homepage of the application shows us the categories and most downloaded games in a slim overview. It allows you to easily scroll trough screenshots and the prices… they are dead cheap. Prices range from 1,99 to 3,99 Euro and when buying 5 games, you get one game for free. Also, the application allows you to buy a predefined selection of games for a set discounted price.
The categories are nice and clear, though the Blackberry and Windows CE options are a bit strange. When you select a device other then those, they of course don’t display content, but they do raise the question when they are still displayed… The other categories are 3D Games, Game Packs, Best Sellers, New Games, Action, Arcade Classics, Sports, Social Sims, Cards and Puzzles, Brain Games and finally the Sexy games.
As I noted above, it’s rather strange that Gameloft has Blackberry and Windows CE as separate categories while the devices need to be selected anyway for the categories to function. Another detail is an extremely limited device support. The application mainly supports Nokia, SonyEricsson and a few Smartphones. This might have to do with the amount of control over the devices when installing the games trough the application.
In order to purchase a game, I chose to create an account first. I’m Dutch, so I love to get discounts on games. This is when I went into trouble. The application wants me to enter credit card information. If I don’t have a credit card, then it’s no game… Also, the question rises if I want to store my credit card information on their servers as they also store the verification code. With the auto log-in feature on this application, I recon if my laptop would be stolen, anyone could abuse my account. Without entering the credit card info, I am just not accepted to join the group of consumers. So after thinking it over, for this editorial I choose to grab my American Express card. After entering all data I am so carefull with the application thinks real hard and tells me it doesn’t work. After rechecking, rechecking and rechecking again I figured out that I typed I the right data. Giving a call to American Express also shows my card is all healthy, which means this is where I have to conclude my experience in the application, or at least I should…
Reading the theory on the Gameloft site and various other sources, the buying process should let you download the mobile game to your computer. The Application then installs the game over a wire connection. I hoped to test if it would also work via Bluetooth, but since I can’t use my healthy credit card, I can’t tell more about that.
When I started writing this, I didn’t really know what profit margin the system would have. Selling the games much cheaper then the operators must mean they cut costs and while walking trough the application it showed how Gameloft did it. No IVR, no premium SMS, just the good old credit card on which they probably negotiated lower transaction costs. To increase possible customers, the games are installed via the computer, meaning the consumers don’t have to pay for sometimes still expensive wap downloads.
Gameloft set en example for a smart move to keep consumers going back for new games. I expect many other gaming companies to twist their minds if they should follow. In some extend that would be great, but on an industry standards level. I don’t expect a consumer to have a dozen of similar apps for all the developers. So there should be an industry standard like iTunes for which operators and portals would be a smart fit. Also, there should be some better methods for credit cards. Use of variable prices should keep methods like premium SMS and IVR open to anyone without a credit card.
We have sent some questions regarding our findings to Gameloft and hope to report back with the answers soon.