Games will include THQ's "Company of Heroes" and Sierra Online's "Battlestar Galactica" in the ad-supported free play model.
With WildTangent Orb, the Redmond, Wash.-based company is aiming squarely for what it calls the "enthusiast gamer," or the core male demo. Although WildTangent's network currently serves more than 12 million unique gamers per month, the majority of those players fall outside of that enthusiast sweet spot.
"About 40% are the casual gamers--the moms and women 35 and older--and another 40% are the 13- to-24-year-old family gamers," said Dave Madden, executive vice president of sales and marketing at WildTangent. "So the remaining gamers on our network are the traditional, core gamers--the guys that are typically playing "Halo" on Xbox. And that's the demo that we see growing with this new console."
Madden said that the upgrade had been in the works for some time--as WildTangent itself publishes titles geared toward enthusiast gamers--but market forces, including the success of services like Microsoft's Xbox LIVE Arcade, also contributed to the console's launch this year.
Like WildTangent's previous applications, the new platform runs in full-screen mode on a PC monitor and supports third-party controllers and game pads. According to Madden, it's the availability of new, AAA titles and prime performance that makes WildTangent Orb a win-win for gamers and advertisers.
"Gamers see a title like Vivendi's 'Assault Heroes' on the network, and realize that there's real monetary value to the game they're going to play. These are not lightweight Flash games--they're games that they'd have to pay $60 for at GameStop, so they respect the business model as a fair exchange. " Madden said. "That's why the rich media unit that we display before a game nets very high CTRs and CPMs." He said that WildTangent will continue to offer advertisers a mix of options, from run-of-network buys, to customized game channels tailored to a specific target.
Current WildTangent gamers will be able to upgrade to the new console when it's released in April, and the application will also be distributed on new PCs from manufacturers like HP, Gateway and Toshiba in the later half of the year.