Vodacom recently launched its new PlayInc mobile gaming platform, which offers a library of games as part of a daily or weekly subscription.
The service is owned and managed by Vodacom, but the PlayInc website is relatively free of Vodacom branding and is presented as a separate platform.
PlayInc was announced in Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub’s presentation at the company’s recent financial results presentation, although details on the platform were scarce.
While some publications reported that the service required a subscription to access games which were available for free from the Google Play Store, this is not strictly accurate.
There are key differences between the versions of the games available on the Google Play Store and those within the PlayInc library.
To find out more about PlayInc’s offering, MyBroadband spoke to Vodacom Portfolio Manager for Gaming Marco Lopes.
Subscription and library
Lopes explained that PlayInc’s offering currently includes a subscription of R5 per day or R25 per week. For this price, the customer has unlimited access to a library of over 2,000 games.
These games include major titles such as Colin McRae Rally, Tomb Raider I and II, Lara Croft Go, and Hitman Go. There are also some exclusive titles available on PlayInc, Lopes added.
“There are some titles that are, for example, available exclusively on PlayInc, you can’t find them on the Google Play Store because we have licensed them specifically,” he said.
“We really wanted to go to market with something that allows people to get the full value of what these games offer.”
The service is currently only available to Vodacom customers, although PlayInc aims to deliver a network-agnostic service in future.
Microtransactions and adverts
While it is true that certain games available on PlayInc can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store, Vodacom has entered into partnerships with publishers to give players the best experience possible.
A game like Lara Croft: Relic Run is available both on the Google Play Store and Vodacom’s PlayInc platform, but the two versions work very differently.
Lopes explained that while the Play Store version of the game encourages players to spend real money on microtransactions, the PlayInc version provides gamers with free credits which they can spend on microtransactions instead.
The purpose of the PlayInc subscription is to remove all barriers to enjoying games – such as adverts and microtransactions.
“We want to give people the ability to access these games and experience them to their full potential on a cost-effective level,” Lopes said.
“You don’t have to spend R80 on microtransactions or watch several ads, you can experience the game as you wish.”
He said that Vodacom wanted to go to market with something that allows people to get the full value of what these games offer, and not bombard paying customers with microtransaction requests or adverts.
MyBroadband had the opportunity to test a number of games on the PlayInc service, and noted that all microtransactions were replaced with either a credit system where PlayInc automatically provided us with a large number of credits to use, or simply allowed us to purchase unlimited amounts of “gems”, “coins”, and other in-game currency for free.
It is also important to note that PlayInc includes titles which cost money to purchase on other platforms such as the Google Play Store, and its value proposition is around offering unrestricted access to a wealth of games for R25 per week.
Lopes said that the microtransaction model was a fair and popular one for the mobile gaming market, and he did not rule out its possible implementation in future, but the current PlayInc subscription offering focuses on removing barriers to enjoying mobile gaming.