Mafia game firm plans to cash in on Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO - While Twitter has yet to make money out of its popularity, one social media gaming firm plans to cash in on the micro blogging site with the launch of a role-playing game called '140 Mafia' where people pay real money to play.

140 Mafia', launched by social media gaming firm Lolplaying, is completely text-based and users can form a "mob" by recruiting other players from among their followers.

The game revolves around earning "respect points" to advance in the game. Players can turn on Twitter-based advertising to play the game or they can also pay for a lot of respect (points) up front.

Users pay real cash to acquire virtual currency from a platform called Super Rewards, which has already proved successful at generating revenue from Facebook and MySpace, as well as the iPhone.

Most users pay between $10 and $20 for virtual cash but some have paid thousands of dollars playing the original Facebook version -- 'Mob Wars'.

Players of '140 Mafia' can use their virtual cash to buy virtual health, money and ammunition.

Super Rewards and Lolplaying announced their cooperative effort to bring '140 Mafia' to Twitter during the 2009 Social Gaming Summit in San Francisco yesterday.

Through its existence on Facebook, MySpace and the iPhone, Super Rewards said it is projected to earn an estimated $100m this year.

Jason Bailey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Super Rewards, said: "Many people never thought games would be successful on text-based distribution channels like Twitter.

"But not only are the games proving to be popular, we've now made it possible for game publishers to earn reliable revenue while enhancing users' game experience.

"We're taking our monetization solution to a whole new level by allowing game publishers to effectively reach and monetize an untapped market segment.

But Twitter is yet to start making money from its own site, which attracted 18.2m unique users last month, up 1,448% from a year ago, according Nielsen.

Bailey said: "I'm already making more money from Twitter than Twitter is itself."

'140 Mafia' is not the first game to debut on Twitter. In recent weeks some users have been playing a spying game called Spymaster. However, while there was an initial buzz around this game it appeared to fade fairly quickly.

The emergence of such games has raised concerns with some Twitter users who are worried that they lead to an increase in spam on the service, which could put people off using it.

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