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Verizon boosts revenues with Pirates movie tie-in

'Text Ur Adventure' steers consumers towards rich media content downloads

US mobile carrier Verizon Wireless has partnered with Chicago-based Vibes Media to create a text-based adventure game, which the companies believe will help generate additional revenue by presenting consumers with a range of premium downloadable rich-media content.

Tied to the theatrical release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Verizon has launched the Vibes developed 'Pirates 2 Text Ur Adventure' game, based on the concept of the "choose your own adventure" novels of yesteryear.

In development for over a year, the game contains 562 unique messages, with almost 21,000 possible paths to take, depending on the player's choices and decisions within the game.

Throughout the game, users will be presented with rich media content, including wallpapers, songs, animated images, ringtones and more. With a single click, premium content can be downloaded directly to the handset, giving carriers a new channel to market and distribute rich media and premium content to its customers.

Each message received will enter the player into a sweepstake for additional movie-related prizes, and complimentary content will be provided periodically to reward progression and maintain interest.

Last year, data services contributed US$1.13 billion in additional revenue for Verizon. The bulk of activity come from 21.5 billion text messages, up significantly from 10 million in 2004. Comparatively, mobile downloads of songs or ringtones grew to just 139 million from 100 million a year earlier.

Spurred by the ability to attract new audiences and interact with more consumers through SMS services, the new initiative is expected to help Verizon increase its revenue from data services, capitalising on the fact that 44 per cent of US mobile consumers use text-messaging services but just 5 per cent have downloaded games or ringtones from the carrier's entertainment portal.

By blending premium content in with the text adventure, Verizon hopes to encourage further downloads and increase spending on alternative data services. If the trial is successful, it could open up a new opportunity for carriers to engage more intimately with its consumers, driving revenue for less widespread data services by leveraging the universal acceptance of text-messaging.

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