You may have read about it in Wired or The Feature, but our program today is the first Web video coverage for Mogi, a GPS game that may be The Future of Mobile Content, Version 1.0. Mogi is a multi-player network game in which individuals or teams hunt down virtual treasures hidden in Tokyo’s concrete jungle. Mogi players interact in ways that the much-talked-about i-mode has yet to deliver. It’s new for Japan, even newer for the rest of the world, and there’s no lucrative revenue model. Yet.
Today’s program marks a watershed of sorts for WWJ video coverage: it’s one of the first times we show you on-the-street demos of utterly cool mobile content together with footage and commentary from actual users, the content provider, and other partners. It turned into a monster, 16-minute proggy, but the sit is well worth it! Mogi may just represent the future of the mobile Internet and is one of the few wireless content services we’ve seen that integrates a clever game with the way real people use mobile. Oh yes — Mogi has massive marketing potential as well.
Launched in April 2003 by Newt Games (HQ: Paris, France; 15 staff; 600K Euro capital; incubated by France Telecom), Mogi is a community Java game in which players use a GPS-enabled keitai to hunt down virtual objects scattered throughout Tokyo (you have to get within 400 metres of the object to grab it).
The objects, which could be seashells, sushi portions, or anything else, are grouped into collections and can be traded between other players (who can work individually or in teams). Certain objects — think animals — might only be found near certain (real) locations (city parks or train stations) or at certain times (they only come out at evening).
The game thus forces players to interact with their environment and with other people in ways that other mobile data services have yet to achieve. And while players for now are merely trading items in virtual collections, the possibilities for expansion, and for serious revenue, are huge.
Mogi also allows messaging, role-playing, rankings, and avatars, and is perhaps unique in that it is not a shoot-em-up game; thus the Mogi community consists almost equally of males and females, according to the company.
Mogi has stickiness, variety, and a high “cool” factor while avoiding monotony or tech/geek entry barriers. Manic Mogi player Paul Baron, featured in today’s video, says: “Every time you step outside, when you’re on your way to somewhere, you can just play it.”
It’s been reported that the two best players have been a delivery man, who would collect Mogi items on his way to and from dropping off tatami mats, and a 32-year-old truck driver.
There’s no reason why a game like Mogi couldn’t be expanded to allow merchants to provide coupons for players to collect and trade or other digital items that have real-world value; players could also form extended personal networks for more than just gaming (“Would you like to meet for a coffee after collecting these seashells,” could be one boy-to-girl message).
The company says Mogi’s community and functionality should appeal to mobile network operators (packet revenue), chain-store operators (coupons, sales), restaurants (fill those empty seats with real-time discounts), game center operators, character goods stores, theme parks, TV shows, and ticket/marketing vendors.
Mogi should be running in at least three countries by the end of this year and Newt Games expects to form a tie-up with a major US entertainment brand fairly soon. For now, it’s only running in Japan due to KDDI/au’s excellent GPS services. In 2003, the company was awarded support from the European Commission to penetrate the Korean market, which is also a strong GPS-enabled CDMA 1X market.
Watch today’s program, then tell your friends and colleagues to come take a look. Mogi is, we believe, set to become one of the most successful and widely used mobile Internet offerings since email.
— The Editors