Snackable Proves SMS Games Are Big Business

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gamer11.jpgADOTAS – It’s always the simplest things that prove the most addictive — that’s especially true with video games. I never understood how my brother could get entangled in a convoluted role-playing game, but I’d rather not admit how many hours of my youth disappeared thanks to “Tetris.”

“Predicto,” the most popular game from Snackable Media, sends subscribers text-message survey questions — popular right now are a slew of opinion polls related to the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien/NBC showdown. Users send their answers back with the opportunity for a $50,000 payout. The monthly subscription fee is $9.95 and a user sticks with it for an average of three to four months.

Sound ridiculous in the age of fancy-pants smartphone games? Not really — after tripling its net revenue in 2008 from $30 million to $90 million, Snackable sold $170 million worth of text-based games in 2009.

Though they aren’t as glamorous as their smartphone peers with all their fancy “pixels” and “graphics,” “Predicto,” the SMS version of TV hit “Deal Or No Deal” and “Celebrity Squares” are simple, addictive and, most important, are perfect for the masses without smartphones — they need bread and circuses too.

Snackable’s marketing makes it all the more impressive. Bypassing app dealers like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market, the company markets directly to potential subscribers and splits gaming revenue down the middle with carriers. In addition, the fee shows up on the phone bill — that whole get it now, pay later has been working wonders with impulse shoppers for generations, especially those yearning for entertainment.

Not surprising, in a previous life (that would be before November 2009) Snackable was better known as Next Web Media and has roots as a cost-per-acquisition ad network. In the gaming arena, which seems to be the domain of intermediaries, Snackable has been wildly successful in directly connecting with consumers — newly launched games become profitable after three months.

However, the proliferation of smartphones is upon us; the flood of Android devices has only begun. I would guess that the days of text gaming are numbered as everyone gets hooked up with a fancy phone.

Snackable is developing smartphone apps and games, CEO Eyal Yechezkell told TechCrunch, but is focused on Facebook integration and giving users the ability to include text responses in their streams. As with their SMS products, Snackable is planning to forgo app markets, market directly to consumers and give carriers a cut of the revenue.

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