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.