AT&T Starts Social Games-Based Rewards Program

SCVNGR

AT&T is getting in on the social gaming craze by partnering with game startup SCVNGR to launch a rewards program built around goofy challenges that let users win points for redemption at the carrier's stores.

The initiative kicks off at more than 50 AT&T outlets across the Midwest that will promote SCVNGR in connection with the launch of the new Samsung Captivate phone. Through the SCVNGR app, available for the iPhone and Android-based Droid, users will be eligible for three types of rewards: two points will earn a free ringtone, five points will win 20% off accessories like a Bluetooth device, and racking up 15 points will translate into $50 off the Captivate.

The challenges to gain points include doing silly things like suggesting substitutes for your friend's annoying ringtone, taking a photo of a friend with a Captivate phone in an AT&T store, or simply checking in at a store. SCVNGR recently also introduced the "social check-in," which lets a group of friends tap their phones together to check in to the same place.

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Once someone has earned enough points to claim a reward, the SCVNGR app shows a screen on the phone instructing the cashier on how to provide the discount rather than having to present a printed coupon.

"By building on SCVNGR to bring the mobile-social experience to customers right in our store locations, we are able to engage and reward them in exciting new ways," said Hardmon Williams, vice president and general manager for AT&T Mobility and consumer markets in Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, in a statement.

For two-year-old SCVNGR, the deal with the nation's second-largest wireless carrier is a coup. The Cambridge, Mass.-based startup has previously teamed with teen retail chain Journeys on a gaming-based rewards program and raised nearly $5 million to date from partners including Highland Capital Partners and Google Ventures.

Seth Priebatsch, SCVNGR's founder and "chief ninja," said there are no plans currently to expand the new AT&T promotional effort beyond the Midwest, "but we'd obviously be excited to roll it out nationally."

But he added that SCVNGR is now rolling out its Rewards feature nationally, starting in Boston and Philadelphia. The first 50 small businesses in each city that want to start building rewards on SCVNGR will get to do so for free, rather than paying the usual fee of $500 to $1,000 per year.

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