Internet version of your quiz show. He spends around 15 hours a week playing the t rex game. But when Sony Online Entertainment ever asks him to fund the game, he’ll leave faster than you are able to say “potent potables.”
“There are so many game sites around,” he explained in an online chat. “Why pay in the event you don’t have to?”
Preston, would you only give his first name, represents one side of the notoriously bipolar online gaming industry–a market that must overcome some serious barriers to reach the billion-dollar revenue growth analysts expect within the next number of years.
On a single side of the market have the freedom, advertising-supported games including “Jeopardy Online” along with the myriad card and board games offered by sites including Yahoo and Pogo. Squeezed through the same advertising pressures facing other online content providers, such sites are scrambling to find ways to generate a consistent profit.
On the other side are online role-playing games, in which players pay monthly subscription fees to interact with many other players in huge virtual worlds. Popular games for example Sony’s “EverQuest” and Electronic Arts’ “Ultima” have thousands and thousands of paying players, generating steady revenue streams envied by other segments of the software business. However the complex fantasy worlds wherein the games exist appeal to merely a small minority of significant game players, in contrast to the general game market.
“The problem for companies focused entirely on Web-based games is to try to bridge that gap and make up a kind of crossover involving the casual gamers and also the hard-core gamers,” Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Billy Pidgeon said. “The theory is to find a middle ground: people that don’t play just as much as hard-core gamers however they are still willing to pay for services.”
Market researcher IDC predicts that total United states revenue from online gaming will increase almost 50 percent annually across the next couple of years, from $210 million just last year to $1.8 billion in 2005.
Jupiter predicts similar growth, with Usa revenue projected going to $2.55 billion in 2006. Advertising revenue will continue to are the cause of about 30 percent of the market, Jupiter forecasts, with the majority of revenue coming from subscriptions.
In the meantime, the majority of that subscription growth is probably going to originate from variations on familiar role-playing game formulas. Sony is developing “Star Wars Galaxies,” run 4 game based on the film series “Star Wars,” while Vivendi Interactive has similar plans for “The Lord from the Rings.”
Both expect the mass appeal of these franchises to broaden the opportunity audience for role-playing video games. But David Cole, president of market researcher DFC Intelligence, warns a strong brand won’t be sufficient.
“I believe it’s a lot about game design and rendering it less than intimidating on the casual user. (Role-playing video games) typically are games that take a great deal of time for individuals to perform; the majority of people don’t wish to devote that much time and energy to a hobby,” Cole said.
“Brands are crucial. But when you dextpky35 the same old intensive, 20-hour-a-week experience, people aren’t gonna stay around that long,” he added.
Kelly Flock, president of Sony Online Entertainment, said the style issues are part of the company’s strategy for expanding the crowd for online role-playing video games.
“Another games we’re designing now are completed with the intent of being less complicated to look in and out of,” Flock said. “Particularly with ‘Star Wars Galaxies,’ the overwhelming majority of people that arrived at that game will probably be unfamiliar with the (role-playing game) category.
“The trick is to make it easy to get started and play on your pace, yet provide enough value and depth and so the consumer feels they’re getting their money’s worth.”
Still, real increase in run ninja run indicates going beyond role-playing and creating innovative new styles that intrigue those with a standard desire for games.