Advergames For Everyone

There were a number of interesting news tidbits this week, ranging from EA's decision to take a  severe Big Brother approach to piracy protection with the upcoming "Mass Effect" and "Spore" PC releases, to the drama between Take Two and the City of Chicago Transportation Authority regarding  the removal of $300,000 worth of advertising for "GTA IV," in response to standard fare, violent game fear-mongering.  But the most interesting story is Microsoft's new game building functionality from Popfly for its Silverlight rich-media platform.

Popfly is part of Microsoft's Developer Division's Non-Professional team.  That mouthful essentially means they worry about how users that aren't actually professional developers can still do cool stuff with Microsoft tools.  They just added functionality to the site that allows users to build games by customizing pre-existing game templates.

The Good: This new development opens up many possibilities for hobbies game developers and long-tail marketers to develop simple but potentially compelling games and advergames on a budget.  No programming experience or knowledge is required, just some elbow grease and sweat.  Once the game is finished, it can be plopped down anywhere on the Internet, from a blog to a company Web  site.

The Bad: Silverlight.  Not everyone has it, which requires users that want to play the game to download and install the plug-in, assuming they are on a Mac or Linux computer, or on a Windows computer that hasn't run updates recently.  Browser compatibility is also limited to Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer.  Personally, I think Silverlight is a clunky offering compared to Flash (its competition), but that is purely my personal bias.  Additionally, the interface, while not requiring any programming knowledge, does have its own learning curve, and it is a bit steep for a lay user.

The Ugly: The alternative.  Paying $150,000 for a Flash game developed from scratch may yield a great game that catches on virally, but not all marketing wallets are that large.  Popfly offers a free solution, in the hopes of spreading the good word about Silverlight.  For marketers unable to pay for development from scratch, or even larger marketers who want to play around with game concepts before committing to development of an advergame, the Popfly solution is an extremely viable one.

For more information on the system, I highly recommend watching this video.

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