OMMA New York And In-Game Growth
I'll get the conversation started with a question of my own. In-game advertising is projected to grow like wildfire, from $77 million in 2006 to nearly one billion by 2011. What I would like to know is, where is this 1,000% growth coming from? One answer is casual gaming. Netting a new and substantial audience, casual gaming is ripe for ads. Even hardcore gaming companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Just this week, Square Enix, the company behind the insanely popular franchise "Final Fantasy," announced a partnership with Japanese game portal Nifty to create casual games under an ad-supported model, placing ads between level loads.
Being someone who likes my food with a few grains of salt, though, I must ask how this growth reflects significant change. With the exception of Nintendo's offerings, most casual gaming seems to be flash-based in-browser games. So in terms of casual gaming, in-game ads seems to just be a shift in online budgets toward rich media placement. The ad is still showing up on a Web page and is being seen in a Web browser and interacted with by a mouse. Mobile gaming may be the only place I can see a potential shift of real significance taking place, but a number of major changes need to take place on that medium for it to host 1000% growth.
Additionally, there is the issue of demographics. The casual gaming demo that is most often hailed is the 40-year-old female, which is certainly a valuable demographic. However, the demo that is most often associated with gaming, specifically "hardcore" gaming, is also a demographic generally found to be hard to reach, due to a preference for playing video games over watching TV, spending time online, etc.
The question is, do hardcore gamers play casual games? My gut says no, but I have yet to see a study that supports or disproves my gut. It is a good question to know the answer to, as in-game ads seem to be much more difficult in relation to hardcore gaming. First of all, only sports games, racing games, and a handful of shooters take place in environments that seem suited to in-game advertisements. That is far from all-encompassing. Additionally, there are still issues regarding networked vs. offline play, and dealing with the consumer concern of $60 spent for a game that now includes ads, with no benefit to gamers. Casual games seem a more fertile ground for growth than "hardcore" games. So then the question remains, how to reach the hardcore gaming demographic during the hours a week they spend with the activity.
What other questions about in-game ads do you have?