Yesterday saw the launch of a new game for the iPhone and iPad called “Mine that Gold” in which players have the objective of searching for virtual gold. The game’s USP is that players can exchange the virtual gold they find for real gold.

What is particularly interesting and innovative about the game however is that investors can take a 3 year franchise with Project Miner which buys them a “mining level” within the game in which they can make money through advertising and in-app purchases. The franchisee manages their virtual business by firstly naming and designing their level and then promoting and advertising it via different market routes. Full training is provided by Project Miner and the franchisee is free to sell the franchise to a purchaser with Project Miner’s prior consent.

On the one hand, Project Miner seems far removed from business format franchising and the concept seems to be rather shoe horned into the traditional franchise model. It is a long way from what the public and indeed the franchise industry perceives to be a typical franchise business. Domino’s pizza it is not. There is no tried and tested system (usually the essence of a good franchise business) as not only is this a brand new business but it is also a completely new concept in franchising full stop. I for one cannot make up my mind whether the idea is brilliant or just too much of a gamble as presumably, the success of the franchisees will largely depend upon whether or not the game is the next big thing. 

However, Project Miner has some big name “professional partners” all with a good reputation within the franchising industry and they therefore appear to have taken the time and expense of being properly advised. Plus there is no doubt that video games and mobile apps are big business and that the market is still in its infancy and therefore presents an excellent opportunity. In 2014, the sector generated over $90 billion in overall revenue with the current top game, Clash of Clans making a reported $650,000 a day in advertising and in-app purchases. After the success of the Candy Crush phenomenon and the company floating for over $7 billion, people have been looking for a way to tap into this lucrative market and maybe Project Miner holds the answer. Only time will tell…I will be watching with interest to see how these plucky franchisees get on.