Interactive TV Games Provider, PlayJam, to Offer Yahoo! TV Widget

--Launches Puzzle Game for the Apple iPhone

PlayJam, the pioneering interactive TV games service provider that was acquired by OpenTV in 2001 (through the acquisition of its parent company, Static 2358), and that was re-purchased in early 2008 by its founder, Jasper Smith (see [itvt] Issue 7.77 Part 1), announced Tuesday that it is developing a Yahoo! TV widget that will enable it to offer its games on select Internet-connected TV sets (note: other companies that have developed TV widgets based on the Yahoo!-Intel Widget architecture include eBay, MySpace, Amazon and Blockbuster).

According to PlayJam, its widget will be available later this year and will offer "an enhanced user experience over its traditional interactive broadcast platform" by providing faster and simpler access to key features such as accounts, leaderboards, saved games and competition entries. It points out that Internet-enabled TV's are "always on," thus "eliminating the connection fee PlayJammers are currently charged upon entry to the service via pay-TV broadcasters."

According to the company, the widget will provide access to a range of both free and pay-to-play casual games targeting a similar demographic to its current core TV audience--primarily females aged 25 and older and children (note: it claims that its service is now available in 35 million households, through deployments with such pay-TV giants as Sky in the UK and DISH Network in the US). It says that it has chosen the games that have proven most popular over the years and adapted them for the Yahoo!-Intel widget framework, in order to ensure "frequent and loyal" usage. "Jamble Jewels," "Space Cowboy" and "Wordsearch Fridge" are slated to be the first of around 18 games to be offered on the PlayJam widget (the company claims that they are especially easy to play and sport eye-catching graphics), followed by "Sudoku" and "Darts" shortly afterwards. The widget will also support competitions and instant-win formats, subject to local jurisdiction, PlayJam says. "We're really excited to be working with Yahoo! and the consumer electronics manufacturers at the forefront of the Internet-enabled TV era," PlayJam CEO, Jasper Smith, said in a prepared statement. "Bringing a more engaging PlayJam experience to millions of TV sets in multiple countries will significantly fuel further usage of the service."

In other PlayJam news: The company has adapted one of its games for the Apple iPhone and is now offering it for download through the iTunes store for $0.99. According to the company, the game--"Kurakku Refuelled"--is one of its most popular offerings, having generated over a million paid downloads over its seven-year life. It is billed as an easy-to-play puzzle that features eye-catching graphics, and as "the first in a long series" of PlayJam titles that will be adapted for the iPhone and other mobile platforms (note: the iPhone reportedly accounts for 14% of mobile game downloads). "The iPhone's mobility, alongside its increased graphics and touchscreen capabilities, offers the perfect PlayJamming environment," PlayJam CEO, Smith, said in a prepared statement. "Tapping into the mobile gaming audience will significantly increase our core customer base."