Psst! Wanna Buy A Hot iPhone App? iMafia Sidesteps The App Store

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iMafia isn't the first MMO-style game that lets you advance through the playing field by acquiring  money/weapons/skills for a fee.  But it may be the first that ties advancing through its ranks to actual, real-world iPhone app purchases.

Playmesh, the game's creators, have given this free (and non-advert supported!) app not only an approved, in-game microtransaction system, but a way to promote and purchase other iPhone apps.  Buying premium content inside the game can include an additional app in the purchase price.  It seems like a way to circumvent the whole App Store admissions process, but not quite: the apps still have to go through the standard approval process, Apple gets a cut of the purchase price, and then Playmesh gets its "vigorish" on top of that.

Founder Charles Ju details the whole process in this press release:

iMafia Launches Virtual Goods Marketplace For iPhone

iMafia Enables Parent Company Playmesh to Introduce First-Ever Virtual Goods Platform to the iPhone

San Francisco, CA – February 24, 2009 – PlayMesh, a gaming company
focused on bringing the power of social gaming to the iPhone, today
announced the launch of their virtual goods store in iMafia, a free
graphically-enabled asynchronous massively multiplayer online
role-playing game (MMORPG). On the iPhone, iMafia was ranked as the
seventh most popular game and is ranked the first social game and RPG.

iMafia's virtual goods store allows players to receive virtual goods
when they download premium games through Apple's app store. PlayMesh
founder Charles Ju explains, "The difference between our virtual goods
store and those traditionally found online is that we encourage players
to download fun games with real value. Our goal is to refrain from
coercing our audience into useless subscriptions or credit cards. We
believe that by doing this, all the parties involved will benefit.
Premium game developers will receive more downloads, while casual game
developers have the chance to monetize their free games. Additionally,
Apple will profit from each transaction. This is a new concept that
we're introducing into the iPhone's micro-economy, and we are thrilled
to announce this release."

PlayMesh developed iMafia due to the disparity of social games
available to iPhone users. Ju says, "I have always been intrigued by
the power of social gaming. It just didn't make sense to me why any of
these popular online games were not on the iPhone." iMafia hopes to
take the first steps to empowering casual developers with the tools to
leverage and monetize social gaming. According to Ju, "After extensive
research into why social games were missing on the iPhone, we realized
that there were two missing components: a social network infrastructure
and an easy way to monetize through virtual goods. We took a gamble and
developed both of these and it has paid off well beyond our wildest

In iMafia players do quests and compete with other real players to
be the best mafia in the underworld. Games similar to iMafia are found
to be especially popular with Facebook's and MySpace's audiences,
taking the tenth and eleventh game spots on Facebook and the first and
second overall spots on MySpace applications. Additionally, iMafia has
an engaging graphical interface, a full-fledged social network, free
SMS text sharing, and a never before seen twist on purchasing virtual

About PlayMesh

Founded in July 2008, PlayMesh is the leader in social gaming on the
iPhone and a premiere game producer that has had multiple titles break
into the top 25 applications on the iPhone. PlayMesh is focusing on
bringing the power social games, traditionally found on sites like
Facebook and MySpace, onto the iPhone.

The most popular game produced by PlayMesh is iMafia, a
fully-graphically enabled massively multiplayer roleplaying game.
iMafia was ranked as the seventh most popular game and is ranked as the
top social game and RPG.

Media Contact:
Charles Ju

[Via Live Mafia]

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