Sponsored By

Q&A: Vipul Sawhney, President of Hovr

New York based Hovr recently launched ad-supported game portal Hovr Mobilespace and face stiff competition. Games On Deck talks to Hovr President Vipul Sawhney to discuss what it is that sets Hovr's service apart, such as social networking aspects and the Adlogic platform.

Mathew Kumar, Blogger

April 5, 2007

7 Min Read

TitleNew York based mobile company Hovr recently launched Hovr Mobilespace, a social network offering more than 100 free, ad-supported games from over a dozen publishers, powered by Hovr's AdLogic Platform. Titles come from developers such as Kiloo and Ozura, and games currently on offer include Hugo Cannon Cruise and Texas Holdem'. Hovr intend to continue adding new titles to the catalog.

Hovr has entered fiercely competitive space that already features one heavyweight competitor in the form of Greystripe's Gamejump, and so Games On Deck talks to Hovr President Vipul Sawhney to discuss what it is that sets Hovr's service apart, such as social networking aspects and the Adlogic platform.

Games On Deck: Describe Hovr to us.

Vipul Sawhney: Hovr is one of the industry's first ad-supported gaming communities/social networks, and we offer subscribers free mobile games, which are subsidised by advertising. We offer consumers a site where they can register their profile and connect with other gamers, such as their friends, but also other gamers across the world, and interact with them by playing games.

Lots of our games, for example, have the ability for users to upload their scores and compare them with other members in the community and their friends. It makes a much more compelling experience for users.

When it comes to technology, our technology really gives advertisers a much better way to target their audience. We've really created a lot of new revenue opportunities, and this is beneficial for games publishers too, as it doesn't just to have to be about download revenues. It gives them a new business model.

For consumers we offer well over 100 mobile titles and add more on a weekly basis, from many of the best publishers, and we've only just had our soft beta launch at the beginning of this year and have already had well over 100,000 downloads.

GOD: Why did you decide to start Hovr?

VS: Basically, over a year ago, towards the end of 2005, I was looking at the mobile games industry, and I considered it in comparison to other types of media. And if you look at any other type of media, television, internet, magazines, newspapers, you find that about half of the content is premium content that you pay for and about another half of it is content that is free, supported by advertising. So, for example, on TV you've got HBO, as well as your NBCs and so on. You see the same thing on the internet.

But what we looked at, in terms of mobile, virtually all content is premium, paid for content. I mean, if you want to buy a game it's going to cost you $5 to $10, and then you've even got things like mobile ringtones and how much they cost. So the thought is that there's clearly a market for ad-supported content.

So a question is: Do advertisers want to reach the mobile space? And the answer is obviously yes. There are over 2 billion people with mobile phones out there, and it's growing. Who's to say it won't be bigger than 3 billion - 4 billion? That's a market that's bigger than television. So advertisers want to reach that market.

In return, do the consumers want to receive advertising? Well, if you ask consumers in a blanket fashion if they want advertising the answer is usually no. People have concerns based in fear of telemarketing; being called over and over again for things you don't even want.

But if you ask these people if they're willing to receive advertising in return for a piece of mobile content, for example a game, most people said yes.

So it's our believe that a large part of mobile content from now on is going to be delivered using ad-supported means. And that's why we begun Hovr; using our technology we can dynamically insert adverting into mobile content and that's what we have available.

GOD: So how does the Adlogic technology work, exactly?

VS: Adlogic has a couple of parts to it. It can allow the display of many different types of advertising in your mobile content. So it can display banner ads, it can display surveys, animations; we're working on a video component as well. So what we do at this point is we provide this as an API to our developers so they can integrate that into their games any place that they see fit, and we also have the possibility for larger scale developers/publishers who think that that's too high risk, or don't have the same level of interest, we can automatically do pre-game and post-game advertising using our software.

In terms of advertising, our platform is one of the first that really targets the advertising to users based on the information that users provide (to us.) So, if I was trying to advertise Budweiser in the mobile space, it's obvious I wouldn't want to be advertising to 14 year olds, I'd want to be advertising to 20-somethings, and we have that capability to advertise to our users based on their general demographics, such as age, carrier, location, and other kinds of information that we track.

GOD: How can the users interact with the advertising, if they choose to?

VS: One of the things that are a key advantage here to us is that users can interact with the advertisements without being kicked out of the game. So, for example, if it's a survey, they can fill it out, hit send and they weren't kicked out to a WAP page - they can just continue on with their game and play it as they normally would.

We've found that in a lot of other approaches that the ads tend to kick the user out to a WAP page or quit their game somehow. Users really don't like that - they're trying to play the game. It doesn't add to the experience.

We have many different ad types for that reason; click to call, click to purchase, a number of different types.

The Hovr Mobile Space

GOD: Is the core of the business the Adlogic system?

VS: Well there are a number of different things. We have our site where you can download the games, but one of the most important things is that we want to retain users. We just don't want them to just have the experience of playing the game once or twice and then forgetting about it. We want to offer a compelling experience that keeps them attached. So that's why we have this community.

This is obviously all tied back to the Adlogic system, as the community feeds the demographics, but they're realistically quite inseparable. And this serves everyone, as users truly do want to see advertisements that are relevant to them, rather than bore them.

GOD: What is it that really sets your system apart from your competitors?

VS: I think really what sets us apart is that we have a much better experience for the user, as I've just said, due to the way we integrate the advertising, and over and above that we also have a much more compelling experience thanks to the mobile community aspects. You're not just one person playing a game alone - you're competing with people across the world.

In the same way, our targeted ads improve not only the advertiser's experience, but also the users.

GOD: Are you seeking to hook companies into exclusive deals?

VS: Well, if you look at it, we're happy to have competitors. There are billions of phones out there, and it's simply not possible for one company to dominate that space. It's healthy to have competitors, it validates the business model, and we think, as a whole, we're changing the dynamic of mobile gaming together, that's going to make mobile gaming that much more mass market.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Mathew Kumar


Mathew Kumar is a graduate of Computer Games Technology at the University of Paisley, Scotland, and is now a freelance journalist in Toronto, Canada.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like