SAN JOSE, California – A game about crossing the U.S. border, telenovelas, soccer and even that legendary predator the “chupacabra” are some of the subjects that mobile entertainment now offers Hispanics, a growing market eager for new content.
After being stopped at the border by an immigration agent who is none other than the dad of his girlfriend, a young Mexican wrestler has many obstacles to overcome before he can cross the border and rejoin her.
Though the plot could pass for a telenovela, this is actually the story line of “Jose Comes to USA,” a video game for iPhone by the Venemobile company featuring elements well-known to many Hispanics like “lucha libre” wrestling, the border, “migra” immigration authorities, love and the Internet.
“It wasn’t easy to publish it,” Efe learned from Rafael Garcia, Venevision International’s vice president of new media distribution and head of Venemobile, the company that for the last two years has been doing production and distribution for smart-phone games.
Garcia recalled that the launch of “Jose Comes to USA” at the beginning of the year coincided with the controversy sparked by “Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration”, a game about crossing the border illegally while trying to suffer the fewest casualties among the undocumented.
Unlike Smuggle Truck, Jose got the go-ahead after overcoming objections and appealing to iTunes, and today it is published along with other Venemobile titles like “King Bandido” and “Mister Miguel’s,” the latter measuring a player’s skill at whipping up dishes for a restaurant.
“We’re very careful about content and try to have it reflect Latin culture in a positive way,” Garcia said, adding that “Chupacabra” is also in their catalogue and up to now is the company’s most successful game with 275,000 downloads.
Kevin Conroy, president of Univision Interactive Media and Enterprise Development, says Hispanics who own smart phones are more likely than non-Latinos to use the devices to send text messages and e-mails, play games and download or stream content.
In 2009 Univision debuted its first Webnovela “Vidas Cruzadas” (Crossed Lives) with Kate del Castillo and Guy Ecker, and attracted more than 2.5 million streaming viewers when it aired.
“Sixty-five percent use their mobile phone as their primary Internet access, which is why it’s crucial to look after the needs of our audiences,” Conroy said.
The executive said that just four days after the launch of the free smart-phone app Univision Futbol (soccer), it became No. 1 in popularity on iTunes.
Experts estimate that mobile penetration will outdo the Internet over the next two years, which means greater usage by Hispanics, who number some 50 million people in the United States.