Big Money Gets Behind Casual Games

Lots of news for casual games lovers this week. For one, a study by Macrovision found that 83% percent of gamers surveyed would be willing to watch a 30-second ad in exchange for free gameplay.

That's a good sign for the longevity of the 30-second spot, as DVR penetration increases and more online advertisers switch to shorter ads to avoid abusing consumer attention.

Couple that with two major announcements from two major players in the interactive space, both made at casual games conference Casual Connect. Google's Dean of Games Bernie Stolar and in-game ad team manager Greg Schaffer said that "Adsense for Games" will be coming soon, while Microsoft's general manager of casual games said that casual games will be a "central part" of Microsoft's gaming strategy. And major media companies (assuming Google and Microsoft aren't major media companies) are getting into the act, too: Viacom is committing $100 million to acquire a portfolio of Web sites dedicated to casual games.

It's been the conventional wisdom for a while now that casual games are a huge opportunity for marketers to reach an affluent audience that eschews 30-second TV spots with their DVRs. But even better than conventional wisdom is conventional wisdom with huge amounts of money behind it. Microsoft, Google and Viacom are the kind of players to take the casual games space from the hot new thing to a money-making institution. So, advertisers who aren't looking at casual games as a medium for their products should get started. Today.