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Video Games May Not Need A Search Strategy -- But They Do Need A Social One

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Do search engine optimization and paid search strategies work? Not all execs think their businesses require these online marketing strategies. Some believe they get along without them, but it seems Google, Bing and Yahoo have found a way of sneaking them in.

When Doritos ran a recent promotion tied to a Major League Gaming (MLG) event, the 1,000 tickets that posted for sale at midnight were gone within 20 minutes without an SEO or PPC strategy. "I know you're nobody in this world if you don't think about search all the time, but we just don't," says MLG Chief Executive Officer Matt Bromberg. "In a way we're spoiled, because we operate in our own social network and don't spend a lot of time thinking about search and search optimization. Instead, we let the word of mouth and passion from fans spread the word."

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Passionate fans have also begun following game publishers from consoles into social networks like Facebook and Twitter, spreading the word where people spent nearly six hours in December, according to Nielsen.

Bromberg is part of this trend. He spends time playing console games, but also has a Facebook account where he plays Farmville and other social network games. "If I only have so much time in my day to play games, doesn't the stuff I do in Facebook take me away from that experience?" he says. "We think the answer is to reach out to connect friends and [game] results... into Facebook and social networks." In other words, every publisher needs to ask themselves how to get the game out of the console and into social networks.

Last year's acquisition of Agora Games now allows MLG to automatically grab the stats from games and stream them on the Web or in social media sites. The first deal integrating this feature comes in June, from an agreement MLG signed with Electronics Arts.

The two companies also recently announced the integration of an online tournament function into select EA sports titles in 2010. The deal deepens the two companies' existing relationship with EA Sports Challenge Series, a series of live gaming tournaments in North America that integrate console games.

Technology tied to select EA Sports titles will track wins, losses and other relevant statistics that MLG compiles in an online competition profile for the player. Beyond buying impressions tied to in-game advertisements, Bromberg says game developers and publishers want to find more immersive ways of getting into the game and connecting with players, such as integrating messages around someone's online social profile that gets created from a Doritos tournament.

Now, when people play Madden or any other sport games, all the information gets sent out of the game into social profiles. The technology making that possible came from an acquisition MLB made last year..

And while MLG integrated the technology that lets gamers share stats in Facebook, it also has a Facebook Fan page where it posts status updates related to gamers. And although Bromberg says MLG doesn't have a search strategy, Google, Bing and Yahoo built one for him with real-time status updates that index in search engine queries.

Technology companies and game publishers keep getting more creative. Conduit now allows developers to create mini games that people can play directly in Google's Chrome browser window. Game developers can create these games using the Conduit Platform and then add them to the Conduit App Marketplace to let the company's network of Web publishers and users gain access.

The Conduit Platform lets developers create the game on Flash, Silverlight or other technologies. Using Conduit APIs, developers can connect objects in the game with those on the page or in the browser. Conduit says that Bacon Oppenheim, which developed PiTSi, a virtual pet game, received more than 795,000 users in the first week after placing the game in the Conduit Marketplace.

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