Electronic Arts attempted to do just that just last year with “Majestic,” which used media including phone messages to online talk to involve players in an interactive mystery. The 1st episode in the t rex game, offered totally free download, attracted significant interest, but few saddled with it and have become paying customers.
“‘Majestic’ was actually a really interesting experiment,” Pidgeon said. “I don’t think it spells doom for converting that casual gamer. There were just way too many barriers for casual gamers to obtain over with regards to accessing material online and expecting stuff to download. It’s form of a good example of the pioneer–as defined by returning with many different arrows in your back.”
Bryan Neider, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts’ online branch, called EA.com, similarly characterizes the video game like a slightly painful chance to learn.
“‘Majestic,’ even though it wasn’t commercially successful, did lots of interesting things that I think we’re planning to see appear in other games,” he was quoted saying. “Whatever we learned is that people would like to play at their very own pace. We had an episodic format, and other people didn’t want to wait.”
Electronic Arts’ high hopes might be more firmly grounded for that “The Sims Online,” the online version from the smash PC game. The online version is anticipated to become ready late this 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 crowd for games online.
“We believe the event will almost certainly replicate the particular broad appeal of the PC product…and provide that breakthrough success to a different environment,” he stated.
“I’m being very conservative about ‘The Sims Online,'” IDC analyst Schelley Olhava said. “The question is what percentage of those who play ‘The Sims’ offline would they motivate to pay for a subscription fee? I’m not convinced this will almost certainly boost their subscription base into the millions.”
Although developers of subscription-based games attempt to calculate what will attract an extensive audience, purveyors of free games know already what draws a crowd: card, board as well as other basic games that supply ample opportunities for players to talk to an additional. The challenge, instead, is to find out what might motivate advertisers.
Stung from the overall advertising crunch that has shuttered many content sites, operators of free game sites are scrambling for ways to create a stronger pitch to advertisers. One of several promising approaches is sponsorship, wherein a game works as a vehicle for promoting an advertiser’s products. The advertiser typically will pay for the development and hosting from the game and then promotes it, boosting overall visitors to the game site.
Microsoft’s The Zone gaming site offers several sponsored games, starting a year ago with “Toyota Adrenaline,” a racing game built throughout the company’s latest truck.
Microsoft is also looking to create ongoing sponsorship opportunities with “OutSmart,” a quiz show game by which players take on a celebrity to respond to questions based on the celebrity’s work. The record, film or TV company associated with the celebrity covers development and promotion from the game.
Sponsorship makes good business sense, said Chris Di Cesare, group product manager for that Zone. And if proper attention pays to the development end, such run 4 can offer compelling experiences for consumers.
“For that casual gamers, what we’ve really found out that works is what we call adver-gaming,” Di Cesare said. “It turns out to be a real win-win for your game player and also the sponsor. With ‘Toyota Adrenaline,’ we were able to give gamers an advanced 3D racing game that really pushed the envelope so far as graphics, and Toyota got great exposure.”
“What exactly do advertisers want?” Di Cesare asked. “Stuff that are compelling and fascinating for that consumer. That’s what games are.”
Pidgeon agreed that sponsorships work most effectively wish for free game sites to destroy out of your banner-ad ghetto.
“Sponsorship appears to be probably the most sensible approach for cross-promotion and building a better case to advertisers,” he was quoted saying. “It’s considerably more effective in terms of brand recognition than other kinds of advertising.”
But Neider asserts that sponsorships can undercut the game developer’s reputation by putting product placement in front of the game experience.
“We’re really leery of letting advertisers are available in and dictate the game content,” he explained. “That’s a primary reason we want to take the ability to the advertiser, not the other way around. We would like to maintain that game design integrity and then see which advertisers could be appropriate.”
The wild cards inside the online gaming market are computer game consoles, which can become an increasingly important conduit for online experiences within the next number of years. Microsoft wants to launch an internet service for the Xbox system over the summer, and Sony is focusing on similar plans for its PlayStation 2 console.
Pidgeon stated that although run ninja run consoles will are the cause of merely a small fraction of online game revenue into the near future, console makers are able to publish their dextpky35 rules in ways that favors subscription revenue.
“It’s gonna be easier to generate income there because from the PC space there are each one of these people handing out stuff,” he stated. “People don’t have those expectations in the console side. I believe Sony and Microsoft will certainly structure the internet services to ensure there’s going to be a service charge that features some elementary content and a real push to upgrade to premium services.”
DFC’s Cole said consoles have the possibility to vastly expand the online gaming audience if console makers do it properly, making it as simple to perform games offline as online.
“I believe connectivity is definitely the No. 1 obstacle for online gaming,” he explained. “People will get frustrated really easily trying to figure out the way to configure the PC games for online play. Anything that makes the connection process easier will almost certainly bring more people in.”