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News from NET and COM '99

  • Bandai to Launch Network Game Service on Mobile Phones
  • February 11, 1999 (TOKYO) -- Bandai Co., Ltd., a leading toy maker, announced that it plans to offer a networked game program on the "iMode" text data service using mobile phones that Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. will introduce on Feb. 22.
    Bandai said it hopes the new program will attract a user base of 3 percent of all iMode subscribers.

    NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. (NTT DoCoMo) aims at attracting 10 million iMode subscribers in the next three years. Calculated on that basis, Bandai seeks to have about 300,000 subscribers in three years.

    The game program will be called "DoCo demo aso Vegas." The players will compete for points by giving correct answers to questions.

    Upon subscribing to iMode, participants will pay a monthly fee of 300 yen (US$2.60) to Bandai, to take part in the game. Instructions on the process for participation will be given on the display screens of iMode-compliant mobile phones.

    "Bandai is taking advantage of the iMode system, and by simply changing the server's contents, we can offer many new services," a Bandai official said.

    Due to the centralized control by a main server, the popularity of each game can be easily grasped. Additionally, Bandai can leave the task of collecting fees to NTT DoCoMo.

    Services similar to iMode are to be offered by cellular telephone companies and IDO Corp., beginning in April. Those companies will charge fees by the unit of time spent in playing the games or quizzes. Bandai has no plans to do business with them for the time being.

    An iMode subscriber is charged by volume of data. The fee is 0.3 yen per "packet," a send/receive data unit (comprising a maximum of 128 bytes), or about 20 yen to 30 yen per display screen.

    If a large volume of data is sent or received, the telephone charge is likely to increase quickly. "We will closely watch the volume of data transmission to prevent the fees from skyrocketing," the Bandai official said.

    Bandai's new service is part of the company's strategy to offer a service to use mobile phones beyond just talking.

    The new Bandai service is likely to become a strong support mechanism for NTT DoCoMo, which is gearing up to start the iMode services.

    Related story: NTT DoCoMo to Launch Text Services for Mobile Phones

    (Nikkei Electronics)

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    Updated: Wed Feb 10 16:01:10 1999 PDT