Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
Following the announcement of its intention to branch out into mobile gaming earlier this month, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has launched today its first batch of games on its Taobao Mobile marketplace app, as well as its messaging service Laiwang.
Android users can now visit ‘Game Center’ on the updated Taobao Mobile app to download the single game available there or ‘Come Play’ on Laiwang to download another two games that have been rolled out by Alibaba. The updates for the iOS apps are still pending, but will likely be live in the near future.
To tempt users to play its games, Alibaba is giving away chances to win points on Alipay — its payments service — and red packets containing digital cash for those who log in to the games through their Taobao accounts on the mobile app. These points and red packets can be redeemed at Taobao or Alibaba’s two other e-commerce sites, Tmall and Juhuasuan. Laiwang users, however, won’t enjoy this perk.
Alibaba’s push into mobile games comes as Tencent has been stepping up integration of its games into its wildly-popular messaging service WeChat (users in China get a version known as Weixin). In the first three months of introducing mobile games into Weixin, they passed 570 million downloads.
By using perks to attract users, Alibaba could very well chalk up impressive game downloads and/or log-ins, but whether the games are actually being played is another matter altogether — which means the company may not be able to attract that many active users and therefore stickiness may not be as strong.
However, it cannot be denied that Alibaba is extremely keen to make its presence felt in mobile, and games form another aspect of this overall push. CEO Jonathan Lu already pledged last year to continue its string of big investments as it maintains focus on improving its services for mobile — and the company has been upping efforts to promote its chat app, wooing mobile shoppers with free data and even giving free smartphones to retailers in China.
Headline image via Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
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