Alibaba Group’s recently announced mobile games platform went live Jan. 26 with three puzzle games integrated into its Taobao and Laiwang smartphone applications.
The mobile games platform, which was announced in January, is part of a broader effort by the e-commerce giant to attract users to its e-commerce and mobile messaging apps. The platform is integrated with Taobao’s e-shopping app, allowing users to go to the Game Center from the Taobao app to play.
On Laiwang, the mobile games platform is integrated with the chat app via a feature called Come Play.
There are currently two games available for download in Laiwang and one game in Taobao. The games are currently only available for smartphones running the Android operating system.
China’s mobile games market reached RMB 11.2 billion ($1.9 billion) last year, growing almost 247 percent, according to CGIGC statistics. CGIGC is under online games research arm of China’s online games regulator, the General Administration of Press and Publication. The number of mobile gamers in China rose 248 percent to 310 million in 2013, representing 63 percent of the total online gamer base.
Alibaba’s mobile gaming platform faces entrenched rivals as it struggles to get off the ground, but Taobao’s popularity with online shoppers could provide some traction. Taobao “has a massive amount of users that will bring value to the entire mobile game industry and its users,” said Liu Feng, chief executive of EZJOY Game, in a prepared statement. EZJOY developed the “Crazy Toy Game” for the Taobao mobile app.
Alibaba is promoting the games platform by offering to Taobao app users online points and digital “red packets” to new players. The points and packets can be redeemed for cash rebates on their online purchases.