Internet version of the quiz show. He spends around 15 hours per week playing the t rex game. However if Sony Online Entertainment ever asks him to cover this game, he’ll leave faster than you can say “potent potables.”
“There are numerous game sites out there,” he explained inside an online chat. “Why pay when you don’t have to?”
Preston, would you only give his first name, represents one side from the notoriously bipolar online gaming industry–a market that must overcome some serious barriers to arrive at the billion-dollar revenue growth analysts expect on the next few years.
In one side in the market are free of charge, advertising-supported games such as “Jeopardy Online” as well as the myriad card and board games available from sites including Yahoo and Pogo. Squeezed with the same advertising pressures facing other online content providers, websites like these are scrambling to figure out ways to make a consistent profit.
On the reverse side are online role-playing video games, by which players pay monthly subscription fees to interact with some other players in huge virtual worlds. Popular games for example Sony’s “EverQuest” and Electronic Arts’ “Ultima” have tens of thousands to pay players, generating steady revenue streams envied by other segments from the software business. Nevertheless the complex fantasy worlds in which the games exist appeal to just a small minority of serious game players, in contrast to the complete game market.
“The task for companies focused on Web-based games is to try to bridge that gap and make a kind of crossover between your casual gamers and the hard-core gamers,” Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Billy Pidgeon said. “The concept is to find a middle ground: those who don’t play up to hard-core gamers however they are still willing to pay for services.”
Market researcher IDC predicts that total U.S. revenue from online gaming will increase almost fifty percent annually across the next couple of years, from $210 million 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 account for about 30 percent from the market, Jupiter forecasts, with the bulk of revenue coming from subscriptions.
At the moment, almost all of that subscription growth will likely are derived from variations on familiar role-playing game formulas. Sony is developing “Star Wars Galaxies,” run 4 based on the film series “Star Wars,” while Vivendi Interactive has similar plans for “The Lord of the Rings.”
Both expect the mass appeal of those franchises to broaden the possible audience for role-playing games. But David Cole, president of market researcher DFC Intelligence, warns a strong brand won’t be sufficient.
“I do believe it’s a good deal about game design and which makes it not intimidating on the casual user. (Role-playing games) typically are games that take a whole lot of time for people to try out; most people don’t would like to devote very much time to a hobby,” Cole said.
“Brands are very important. However, if you dextpky35 the usual intensive, 20-hour-a-week experience, people aren’t going to stay around that long,” he added.
Kelly Flock, president of Sony Online Entertainment, said the style issues are section of the company’s strategy for expanding the audience for online role-playing video games.
“The subsequent games we’re designing now are definitely finished with the intent being easier to look out and in of,” Flock said. “Particularly with ‘Star Wars Galaxies,’ the overwhelming majority of individuals who visit that game will most likely be new to the (role-playing game) category.
“The trick is making it easy to get going and play in your pace, yet provide enough value and depth and so the consumer feels they’re getting their money’s worth.”
Still, real rise in run ninja run means going beyond role-playing and creating innovative new styles that intrigue individuals with a typical curiosity about games.