Tencent QQ Instant Messenger: The Casual Game Platform to Rule Them All
To futher illustrate the magnitude of this platform, Take Two CEO Ben Federer says they decided to release an NBA game in China via this platform simply because "Tencent has more active users than there are people in the United States."
What other games is this instant messaging service offering that has people reaching for their wallets? In addition to streaming music and other forms of entertainment, Tencent QQ offers subscriptions that give players access to games such as QQNana, a Korean dancing game; QQTang, an action game; QQ Speed, a racing game; Black, a new player vs. player game and three pet-simulation games where players take on the task of raising a penguin, pig and bear. Tencent QQ also thrives on user avatars, charging users small amount of cash to buy new clothes, etc for their virtual representative.
While the rules seem to be changing daily for gaming on the iPhone, Facebook, MySpace etc -- Tencent QQ seems to have found a formula that's working well -- simply charging users to play games on their platform. Of course, the company has had its fare share of controversy -- it's teeming with ads and often tagged as malware by virus software. The company has also filtered keywords and worked with Chinese police to target users and group leaders involved in certain political/social movements.
While it's unlikely we'll see this exact model translate for Western audiences, we can imagine that messaging services like AIM or Twitter are paying close attention. A handful of Twitter games haven't gained significant traction and AIM (also owned by this blog's parent company AOL) signed a deal to host QQ games, but we're interested to see who's (if anyone) is going to make the first real move to dominate this space. Because, you know, we need to get our game fix by any means necessary.