Electronic Arts aimed to just do that a year ago 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 at no cost download, attracted significant interest, but few saddled with it and became paying customers.
“‘Majestic’ had been a really interesting experiment,” Pidgeon said. “I don’t think it spells doom for converting that casual gamer. There was just a lot of barriers for casual gamers to obtain over with regards to accessing material on the internet and awaiting stuff to download. It’s sort of a good example of the pioneer–as defined by coming back with many different arrows in your back.”
Bryan Neider, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts’ online branch, referred to as EA.com, similarly characterizes the video game as being a slightly painful chance to learn.
“‘Majestic,’ while it wasn’t commercially successful, did a great deal of interesting stuff that I feel we’re likely to see appear in other games,” he stated. “What we learned is the fact people wish to play at their own pace. We had an episodic format, and individuals didn’t desire to wait.”
Electronic Arts’ high hopes might be more firmly grounded for that “The Sims Online,” the online version of the smash PC game. The online version is expected to get ready late this current 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 target audience for games.
“We think the knowledge is going to replicate the broad appeal from the PC product…and convey that breakthrough success completely to another environment,” he explained.
“I’m being very conservative about ‘The Sims Online,'” IDC analyst Schelley Olhava said. “Now you ask , how many of the people who play ‘The Sims’ offline can they motivate to pay a subscription fee? I’m not convinced this will almost certainly boost their subscription base in to the millions.”
Although developers of subscription-based games try and calculate what is going to attract a broad audience, purveyors of free games know what draws a crowd: card, board and other basic games that supply ample opportunities for players to speak to one other. The challenge, instead, is to understand what might motivate advertisers.
Stung through the overall advertising crunch containing shuttered many content sites, operators of free game sites are scrambling for ways to generate a stronger pitch to advertisers. One of many promising approaches is sponsorship, wherein a game functions as a vehicle for promoting an advertiser’s products. The advertiser typically pays for the development and hosting of your game after which promotes it, boosting overall visitors to the video game site.
Microsoft’s The Zone gaming site offers several sponsored games, starting just last year with “Toyota Adrenaline,” a racing game built across the company’s latest truck.
Microsoft can also be looking to create ongoing sponsorship opportunities with “OutSmart,” a quiz show game through which players contend with a celebrity to answer questions in accordance with the celebrity’s work. The record, film or TV company related to the celebrity pays for development and promotion in the game.
Sponsorship makes good business sense, said Chris Di Cesare, group product manager for The Zone. And if proper attention is paid to the development end, such run 4 can offer compelling experiences for consumers.
“For the casual gamers, what we’ve really discovered that works is what we call adver-gaming,” Di Cesare said. “It turns out to be a real win-win for the game player along with the sponsor. With ‘Toyota Adrenaline,’ we had the ability to give gamers an advanced 3D racing game that truly pushed the envelope with regards to graphics, and Toyota got great exposure.”
“What do advertisers want?” Di Cesare asked. “Things which are compelling and interesting for that consumer. That’s what games are.”
Pidgeon agreed that sponsorships are the most useful hope for free game sites to destroy from the banner-ad ghetto.
“Sponsorship seems to be by far the most sensible method for cross-promotion and setting up a better case to advertisers,” he was quoted saying. “It’s far more effective when it comes to brand recognition than other types of advertising.”
But Neider asserts that sponsorships can undercut the overall game developer’s reputation by putting product placement in front of the game experience.
“We’re really leery of letting advertisers come in and dictate the overall game content,” he said. “That’s one reason we want to take the opportunity to the advertiser, not the opposite. We would like to maintain that game design integrity and then see which advertisers might be appropriate.”
The wild cards within the online gaming market are xbox game consoles, which will become an extremely important conduit for online experiences within the next couple of years. Microsoft plans to launch an online service for the Xbox system this summer, and Sony is concentrating on similar plans for the PlayStation 2 console.
Pidgeon stated that although run ninja run consoles will account for just a small fraction of online game revenue in to the near future, console makers are able to create their dextpky35 rules in a fashion that favors subscription revenue.
“It’s gonna be easier to generate money there because inside the PC space there are actually all these people handing out stuff,” he said. “People don’t have those expectations about the console side. I think Sony and Microsoft are likely to structure the web based services in order that there’s going to be a service charge that includes basic content as well as a real push to upgrade to premium services.”
DFC’s Cole said consoles have the potential to vastly expand the web based gaming audience if console makers do it right, which makes it as simple to perform games offline as online.
“I do believe connectivity will be the No. 1 obstacle for online gaming,” he said. “People can get frustrated really easily considering how to configure the PC games for online play. Whatever makes the connection process easier will probably bring more people in.”