Social Gaming Company Aims To Snag Brand Dollars Via New Acquisition
"The online gamer demo is relatively youthful, so they're in the process of choosing the brands that they're going to stick with--but it's hard for marketers to get access to them," Radoff says. "They're averaging about 30 hours a week playing games online, and not really watching TV anymore. So it's in a brand's best interest to reach them on gaming info and community sites."
That's part of the reason why Cambridge, Mass.-based GuildCafe has acquired Uberguilds, a network of high-profile gaming communities that connect players of online games like Blizzard Entertainment's "World of Warcraft" and Sony's "EverQuest" series. Gamers use Uberguilds to organize in-game battle strategies, set up tournaments and share gaming tips--strengthening the social ties that make these Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) so popular.
GuildCafe develops the applications behind social gaming networks, like profile creation tools, meeting planners and message boards. The acquisition gives GuildCafe access to the millions of gamers in Uberguilds' network, a class of gamer clans and teams that are at the high end of the MMORPG market, according to Radoff.
"These are the players that other gamers listen to, and some of the top competitive teams in online gaming," Radoff says. "They're influential in helping gamers choose what they're going to play." GuildCafe is also betting that these influencers can hold sway when it comes to decisions on everything from soft drinks to upcoming movies and even auto choices.
"People form strong bonds in and through these games, much like what happens with music and films," Radoff says. "If a brand can become associated with the social connections, either through sponsorship of a mini-tournament or a competitive team and their profile, then it becomes more interesting than traditional advertising."
Portland-based Uberguilds' staff will move to Massachusetts with GuildCafe, and founder and CEO John Findlay will become the general manager for the new GuildCafe Alliance Program. All sites within GuildCafe's network offer standard banner and text ad placements on user and team profile pages, as well as inventory on message boards and game info sections.