Electronic Arts tried to just do that a year ago with “Majestic,” which used media ranging from phone messages to online talk to involve players in an interactive mystery. The very first episode of your t rex game, offered for free download, attracted significant interest, but few bound to it and have become paying customers.
“‘Majestic’ was really 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 have over as far as accessing material internet and expecting stuff to download. It’s kind of a good example of the pioneer–as defined by finding their way back with many different arrows within your back.”
Bryan Neider, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts’ online branch, referred to as EA.com, similarly characterizes the overall game like a slightly painful chance to learn.
“‘Majestic,’ even though it wasn’t commercially successful, did lots of interesting items that I do believe we’re going to see surface in other games,” he was quoted saying. “Everything we learned is the fact people wish to play at their particular pace. We had an episodic format, and folks didn’t want to wait.”
Electronic Arts’ high hopes are perhaps more firmly grounded for that “The Sims Online,” the web based version of the smash PC game. The internet version is anticipated being ready late this year.
“The Sims” is widely credited with broadening the audience for PC games, particularly by attracting female players, and Neider expects the upcoming version to similarly widen the audience for games online.
“We believe the ability will almost certainly replicate the broad appeal in the PC product…and carry that breakthrough success to a new environment,” he explained.
“I’m being very conservative about ‘The Sims Online,'” IDC analyst Schelley Olhava said. “Now you ask how many of those who play ‘The Sims’ offline would they motivate to spend a subscription fee? I’m not convinced this will probably boost their subscription base to the millions.”
Although developers of subscription-based games attempt to calculate what will attract a broad audience, purveyors of free games already know what draws a crowd: card, board along with other basic games offering ample opportunities for players to speak to an additional. The challenge, instead, is to understand what might motivate advertisers.
Stung through the overall advertising crunch which has shuttered many content sites, operators of free game sites are scrambling for ways to make a stronger pitch to advertisers. One of many 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 of the game and after that promotes it, boosting overall visitors to the video game site.
Microsoft’s The Zone gaming site offers several sponsored games, starting a year ago with “Toyota Adrenaline,” a racing game built across the company’s latest truck.
Microsoft can also be planning to create ongoing sponsorship opportunities with “OutSmart,” a quiz show game by which players compete with a celebrity to reply to questions depending on the celebrity’s work. The record, film or TV company of the celebrity will cover development and promotion from the game.
Sponsorship makes good business sense, said Chris Di Cesare, group product manager for your Zone. And if proper attention pays on the development end, such run 4 game may 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 happens to be a real win-win for the game player and also the sponsor. With ‘Toyota Adrenaline,’ we could give gamers a high level 3D racing game that truly pushed the envelope so far as graphics, and Toyota got great exposure.”
“Precisely what do advertisers want?” Di Cesare asked. “Things that are compelling and fascinating for your consumer. That’s what games are.”
Pidgeon agreed that sponsorships work most effectively a solution to free game sites to destroy out from the banner-ad ghetto.
“Sponsorship appear to be the most sensible approach for cross-promotion and making a better case to advertisers,” he was quoted saying. “It’s much more effective with regards to brand recognition than other types of advertising.”
But Neider asserts that sponsorships can undercut this game developer’s reputation by putting product placement ahead of the game experience.
“We’re really leery of letting advertisers come in and dictate the game content,” he was quoted saying. “That’s one good reason we should take the ability to the advertiser, not the other way around. We want to maintain that game design integrity and then see which advertisers might be appropriate.”
The wild cards from the online gaming market are xbox game consoles, that will become an extremely important conduit for online experiences over the next few years. Microsoft plans to launch an online service for the Xbox system this year, and Sony is concentrating on similar plans because of its PlayStation 2 console.
Pidgeon said that although run ninja run consoles will are the cause of merely a small fraction of online game revenue into the foreseeable future, console makers have a chance to write their dextpky35 rules in a manner that favors subscription revenue.
“It’s gonna be easier to earn money there because within the PC space you can find each one of these people giving out stuff,” he said. “People don’t have those expectations around the console side. I believe Sony and Microsoft are likely to structure the internet services so that there’s likely to be services charge that features some fundamental 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 properly, so that it is as easy to play games offline as online.
“I think connectivity is the No. 1 obstacle for online gaming,” he stated. “People can get frustrated really easily trying to figure out the way to configure the PC games for online play. Something that helps make the connection process easier will almost certainly bring many people in.”