Electronic Arts made an effort to accomplish that this past year with “Majestic,” which used media including phone messages to online chat to involve players within an interactive mystery. The first episode of your t rex game, offered at no cost download, attracted significant interest, but few stuck with it and have become paying customers.
“‘Majestic’ was 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 kind of an illustration of the pioneer–as based on coming back with plenty of arrows with your back.”
Bryan Neider, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts’ online branch, known as EA.com, similarly characterizes this game as being a slightly painful chance to learn.
“‘Majestic,’ even though it wasn’t commercially successful, did a lot of interesting things which I believe we’re going to see crop up in other games,” he explained. “What we should learned is the fact people wish to play at their very own 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 online version in the smash PC game. The web version is expected being ready late this season.
“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 target audience for online games.
“We believe the event is going to replicate the broad appeal of your PC product…and provide 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 what number 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 in to the millions.”
Although developers of subscription-based games attempt to calculate what will interest a wide audience, purveyors of free games may have learned what draws a crowd: card, board along with other basic games that offer ample opportunities for players to chat with one other. The problem, instead, is to determine what might motivate advertisers.
Stung by 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 the promising approaches is sponsorship, where a game functions 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 traffic to the game site.
Microsoft’s The Zone gaming site offers several sponsored games, starting last year with “Toyota Adrenaline,” a racing game built round the company’s latest truck.
Microsoft is also planning to create ongoing sponsorship opportunities with “OutSmart,” a quiz show game in which players compete with a celebrity to reply to questions based on the celebrity’s work. The record, film or TV company linked to the celebrity pays for development and promotion in the game.
Sponsorship makes good business sense, said Chris Di Cesare, group product manager to the Zone. Of course, if proper attention pays towards the development end, such run 4 game may offer compelling experiences for consumers.
“To the casual gamers, what we’ve really learned that works is the thing that we call adver-gaming,” Di Cesare said. “It turns out to be a true win-win for that game player and also the sponsor. With ‘Toyota Adrenaline,’ we could give gamers an advanced 3D racing game that really pushed the envelope as far as graphics, and Toyota got great exposure.”
“What exactly do advertisers want?” Di Cesare asked. “Stuff that are compelling and engaging to the consumer. That’s what games are.”
Pidgeon agreed that sponsorships are the most useful expect free game sites to destroy from the banner-ad ghetto.
“Sponsorship is apparently one of the most sensible approach for cross-promotion and setting up a better case to advertisers,” he said. “It’s much 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 ahead of the game experience.
“We’re really leery of letting advertisers can be found in and dictate the video game content,” he was quoted saying. “That’s one of the reasons we would like to take the opportunity the advertiser, not the opposite. We want to maintain that game design integrity and after that see which advertisers could be appropriate.”
The wild cards in the online gaming market are game consoles, which can become an extremely important conduit for online experiences across the next number of years. Microsoft intends to launch a web-based service for the Xbox system this season, and Sony is concentrating on similar plans because of its PlayStation 2 console.
Pidgeon said that although run ninja run consoles will make up only a small fraction of online game revenue in to the near future, console makers are able to publish their dextpky35 rules in a fashion that favors subscription revenue.
“It’s gonna be easier to make money there because within the PC space you will find all these people giving out stuff,” he said. “People don’t have those expectations on the console side. I do believe Sony and Microsoft will structure the web based services to ensure there’s going to be services charge which includes some basic content as well as 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, making it as easy to try out games offline as online.
“I believe connectivity may be the No. 1 obstacle for online gaming,” he stated. “People could possibly get frustrated really easily trying to puzzle out how you can configure the PC games for online play. Something that makes the connection process easier will probably bring more and more people in.”