Electronic Arts made an effort to just do that last year with “Majestic,” which used media starting from phone messages to online talk to involve players inside an interactive mystery. The initial episode of your t rex game, offered for free download, attracted significant interest, but few tied to it and became paying customers.
“‘Majestic’ was really a really interesting experiment,” Pidgeon said. “I don’t think it spells doom for converting that casual gamer. There have been just too many barriers for casual gamers to acquire over as far as accessing material on the internet and waiting around for stuff to download. It’s sort of an illustration of the pioneer–as defined by coming back again with lots of arrows in your back.”
Bryan Neider, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts’ online branch, known as EA.com, similarly characterizes the video game like a slightly painful learning experience.
“‘Majestic,’ while it wasn’t commercially successful, did a lot of interesting stuff that I do believe we’re gonna see surface in other games,” he said. “Everything we learned is that people would like to play at their particular pace. We had an episodic format, and individuals didn’t desire to wait.”
Electronic Arts’ high hopes might be more firmly grounded for your “The Sims Online,” the web based version of the smash PC game. The online version is expected to become ready late this coming year.
“The Sims” is widely credited with broadening the target audience for PC games, particularly by attracting female players, and Neider expects the upcoming version to similarly widen the viewers for games.
“We know the event is going to replicate the particular broad appeal of the PC product…and convey that breakthrough success to an alternative environment,” he said.
“I’m being very conservative about ‘The Sims Online,'” IDC analyst Schelley Olhava said. “The question is how many of those who play ‘The Sims’ offline would they motivate to cover a subscription fee? I’m not convinced this will probably boost their subscription base to the millions.”
Although developers of subscription-based games try and calculate what is going to appeal to an extensive audience, purveyors of free games know already what draws a crowd: card, board and other basic games offering ample opportunities for players to talk with another. The problem, instead, is to determine what might motivate advertisers.
Stung with the overall advertising crunch which has shuttered many content sites, operators of free game sites are scrambling for ways to create a stronger pitch to advertisers. One of the promising approaches is sponsorship, where a game serves as a vehicle for promoting an advertiser’s products. The advertiser typically covers the development and hosting from the game then promotes it, boosting overall targeted traffic to the game site.
Microsoft’s The Zone gaming site offers several sponsored games, starting this past year with “Toyota Adrenaline,” a racing game built across the company’s latest truck.
Microsoft is also trying to create ongoing sponsorship opportunities with “OutSmart,” a quiz show game where players compete with a celebrity to answer questions based on the celebrity’s work. The record, film or TV company related to the celebrity pays for development and promotion of your game.
Sponsorship makes good business sense, said Chris Di Cesare, group product manager to the Zone. And when proper attention is paid to the development end, such run 4 game can offer compelling experiences for consumers.
“For that casual gamers, what we’ve really learned that works is really what we call adver-gaming,” Di Cesare said. “It turns out to be a genuine win-win for your game player and also the sponsor. With ‘Toyota Adrenaline,’ we had the ability to give gamers a high level 3D racing game that truly pushed the envelope as far as graphics, and Toyota got great exposure.”
“What do advertisers want?” Di Cesare asked. “Things that are compelling and interesting for your consumer. That’s what games are.”
Pidgeon agreed that sponsorships are the most effective hope for free game sites to interrupt out of your banner-ad ghetto.
“Sponsorship is apparently probably the most sensible approach for cross-promotion and building a better case to advertisers,” he explained. “It’s much more effective with regards to brand recognition than other kinds of advertising.”
But Neider asserts that sponsorships can undercut the video game developer’s reputation by putting product placement ahead of the game experience.
“We’re really leery of letting advertisers can be found in and dictate the overall game content,” he was quoted saying. “That’s one of the reasons we wish to take the opportunity the advertiser, not the opposite. We want to maintain that game design integrity and after that see which advertisers might be appropriate.”
The wild cards from the online gaming market are video game consoles, that will become a progressively important conduit for online experiences over the next number of years. Microsoft intends to launch an internet based service for its Xbox system this year, and Sony is taking care of similar plans for the PlayStation 2 console.
Pidgeon claimed that although run ninja run consoles will are the cause of just a small fraction of online game revenue into the foreseeable future, console makers have a chance to publish their dextpky35 rules in ways that favors subscription revenue.
“It’s going to be easier to make money there because inside the PC space there are actually each one of these people giving out stuff,” he was quoted saying. “People don’t have those expectations about the console side. I do believe Sony and Microsoft are likely to structure the web based services to ensure that there’s likely to be a service charge which includes some elementary content and a real push to upgrade to premium services.”
DFC’s Cole said consoles have the possibility to vastly expand the internet gaming audience if console makers do it right, rendering it as easy to perform games offline as online.
“I believe connectivity is the No. 1 obstacle for online gaming,” he said. “People could get frustrated really easily trying to figure out how you can configure the PC games for online play. Everything that makes the connection process easier will bring more people in.”