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Home Startups CEO Weekends: Kenya’s Jooist Relaunches as a Cross-Platform Gaming Network

CEO Weekends: Kenya’s Jooist Relaunches as a Cross-Platform Gaming Network

by Sam Wakoba
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jooist-9484Kenyan-based social gaming network Jooist has pivoted from an ad based model to a subscription based model to allow users pay just KES 10/= a day to enjoy over 1,000 games across over 2,000 devices. The firm is also in talks with WeChat and UCWeb Browser to help distribute Jooist games.

Speaking to TechMoran Waliaula Makokha,  Founder & CEO of Mobileon (Jooist™), ” We have pivoted from a “social gaming network for mobile phones” we are now a “cross-platform gaming network (for all kinds of devices).”

With just KES 10/= the players can access games across all major platforms from Symbian S40 and S60, MTK, Android, Windows Phone and all modern mobile and desktop browser. However, there is a daily maximum download limit for downloadable games and unlimited access and play for browser based games. Jooist says a user can chose to pay KES 50 per week or KES 100 per month where they get to save more as they get “free” days in return for upfront payment.

17 countries in Africa

According to the founder, the old model was ad-based which proved a tough call to monetize for two reasons. First advertisers did not perceive any ROI on the ad spend they have put down since most of Jooist’s audience was feature phone based and such users do not have purchasing power even though they have intent. Second, rendering ads on feature phones is a moving target since they don’t play well and the scale of the problem is worsened when one starts dealing with 2,000+ feature phone models with varying browser brands. Third ads on feature phones do not yield as much as rich format ads that can be served on smartphones as such they are mainly sold via blind ad networks that don’t really pay well and one has no control over issues like brand safety among others.

Makokha adds that 36% of registered users from Kenya are already actively subscribed to the new platform and the firm has rolled out in Kenya with Safaricom subscribers only but are accepting registration from 17 countries in Africa who will be contacted once it rolls out in their countries.

“The reason for the phased approach is that our billing is based on shortcodes and we are yet to acquire the same from Airtel in Kenya and the different mobile networks in our target countries,” he told TechMoran.

WeChat and UCWeb

Jooist says it prides  itself in having the most-comprehensive and the largest inventory of games in Africa at the moment and have built relationships with top game publishers and developers from as far as Russia, Brazil, India, China, Germany and the U.S. for the last two years.

Download-UC-Browser-8-7-for-Symbian

“We currently have 1,000+ games targeting different platforms, browsers and experiences which we are carefully rolling out on a phased approach.   We are in talks with WeChat and UCWeb on how we can work together to make our content accessible to their users,” says Makokha. “Our focus right now is on two things; entertain our users and create value for our partners. When we launched last July we peaked at 60K users towards end of last year when we decided to scrap the ad-based model and simplify the experience for the next 3-4 months”

Jooist launched its subscription based model last Friday and now has a steady traction of 100 – 150 users per day which the firm says is compounding on a day to day basis. The firm also adds that it has crossed the 1,000 user mark in a week with barely no advertising but only organic growth.

Players pay for the games via Premium Rated SMS. They send “GAMES” to 22265 and they are automatically signed up and subscribed to the platform where they can choose to opt out at anytime by sending STOP to 22265. Challenges at the moment include cross-country payments as acquiring shortcodes and integration to telco-billing systems is not easy.

The firm’s focus right now is on Kenya and getting it right to come up with a value case that can make it easier to carry our case to operators in other countries for direct integration and billing and negotiable Premium Rated SMS costs.

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