We attended the Web-Based Games RoundTables on Wednesday and Thursday and they were very informative. This was the first time Rob and I attended any roundtables and being able to participate as "equals" was very exciting.

The first session on Wednesday dealt with business models of web-based casual games. Revenue models ranged from subscriber-based, to banner-ad, to in-game advertising, with advertising taking up the biggest chunk of the session time. Interesting concepts in branding items within the game (such as table-tops in card-based games) were discussed with an effective "Click Per Minute" in some cases as "three-to-five seconds with a clear view of the ad". It sounds like no one has struck on a surefire in-game advertising model nor standardized how monetization of ads would work in this context. People are still working these ideas out.

One aspect discussed was that some companies are struggling to deal with arranging advertising contracts with clients directly, while others are considering going through ad brokers or simply use Google's AdSense program. Everyone agreed that it would be great to have a "clearing house" that deals with clients directly and saves development houses who are not otherwise trained in this regard.

Apart from advertising strategies, another interesting item discussed was how to leverage the community facilities within games and game services to improve revenue streams. One of the key people from Pogo was there and other panel members lauded Pogo's "badging" and ranking systems which basically sounds like a way to give players valued status (i.e. "I've played Game X over 100 times") with very little investment from Pogo's side.

Unfortunately, the entry must be cut short yet again, but suffice to say that I really got some value out of the round-table discussions and look forward to them in the future.

§240 · March 24, 2006 · GDC, Software, Technology, Web · · [Print]

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