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May 19, 2006

Comments

1.

I'm not sure who thought that older female gamers was a ‘blip’. As far as I am aware the relative size of this sector has been around the same level for some time.

I’ve dipped in and out of the Interactive TV industry over the years and the money making interactive services from just after launch were the casual games targeted at this market.

I’d say that the 18-35 segment is actually a dip in online gaming. You have gazillions on NeoPets and Habbo, then the dip from the late teens through to probably later middle age, then up again with casual gamers.

I do feel bad that here on TN we don’t look at either end of the age spectrum that much and we largely ignore text worlds.

2.

Ren wrote:

I do feel bad that here on TN we don’t look at either end of the age spectrum that much and we largely ignore text worlds.

Actually, TN seems to largely ignore any virtual world that isn't World of Warcraft or Second Life.

--matt

3.

It's a really big part of online games, but Terranova is (according to the title anyway) about "exploring Virtual Worlds".

On the other hand, a discussion about the requirements for a virtual world to have broad appeal across ages and genders seems like a pretty neat idea.

4.

"Older women playing for free at casual games sites" are "pink" games now? I've never heard them called that before. AFAIK, "pink" is usually used to describe games that are made specifically for girls (or sometimes women, but not nearly as often). Historically they have not done all that well, and so "pink" has become a bit of a four-letter word among developers, especially among female developers. There is no one type of game that will appeal to all women, just as there is no one type of game that will appeal to all men. These studies prove that rather than disprove that: some women play MMOGs, some play FPSs, some play people sims, and quite a large number play small casual games. Women play what they like, when they like, just like men. Doesn't make the game pink. Can we simply call these games what they are -- casual games?

All that said, you mention that "the market will move on without us," and I think that's the operable point. How much money is there to be made on older women playing casual games for free? How much compared to what Halo2 or WoW rake in? How much even compared with Puzzle Pirates? I think it's fantastic that older women are playing games at all (though I would bet that the vast majority would not identify themselves as "gamers" if asked, and do not in any way connect playing Hearts or Bejeweled with the legislation against games that US politicians keep pushing around), but free casual sites and the solitaire that comes packaged with Windows will never be the meat-and-potatoes of the game industry.

As a female developer who's been known to play casual games while waiting in the doctor's office, or while on a flightpath in WoW, I really do not think that small, free casual games are the future of the industry. I think the MMOG sector would do well to do what we can to expand our offerings in an effort to bring in casual players, but there are some people who will always be quite happy not having to pay for their games. I think there is a segment of the market who would be very happy to play casual games within the context of a MMOG and would even be willing to pay subscription fees for it -- I imagine there is a large number of that sort of people playing Puzzle Pirates right now -- but we're going to have to be really creative if we want to actually make money off that market.

I think many people dismiss older women playing casual games because those women don't likely think of themselves as "gamers", and because the game industry isn't making money off of those games. It's not a blip, it's not a fluke, but it's also not recurring subscription fees, or a $50 box on a store shelf.

5.

Samantha LeCraft wrote:

How much even compared with Puzzle Pirates?

Far, far more.


and because the game industry isn't making money off of those games.

What? Bejeweled alone has made more than PP, for instance, with all due respect to PP.

--matt

6.

...the biggest chunk of online gamers were older women playing for free at casual games sites.

We're not making money off people playing for free. Maybe in advertising on the site, but by definition people playing for free don't give us money.

7.

Why are you downplaying the impact of advertising revenue (a multi billion dollar industry)?

What about licensing fees, or commissioned work? The kinds of websites created for things like the different brands of soda (drpepper.com, coke.com) are certainly pretty close to being interactive enough to qualify as a game IMO.

It's my belief that the branding of products will eventually drive the development of internet media, including games, geared towards selling more of that product. Sort of like "Coca Cola, the Movie". There's already been several marketing campaigns that I've noticed as a consumer that are designed to drive traffic towards corporate websites, it's not much more work to turn the "enter the code" contests into some sort of game-time credit instead of a raffle ticket...

8.

I'm not sure who thought that older female gamers was a ‘blip’.

Virtually the entire US-based games industry, which has long been in denial. Excepting a few groups like Popcap and PlayFirst (and the VCs that fund them).

Samantha asked: [How much money is there to be made on older women playing casual games] compared to Halo2 or WoW... [or] Puzzle Pirates?

And Matt said: Far, far more.

You want to put some numbers with that? More than WoW's $1B in annual revenue? (If you're going to invoke Bejeweled as representative of casual games, I'll invoke WoW as representative of MMOGs.) Or just more than YPP's few million per year? (Not that I'm turning my nose up at that either!)

Ralph's point about cross-media cross-fertilization is a good one. There's already mycoke.com, though I doubt it's as successful in terms of community, usage, or revenue as has been suggested in the past.

That said, I definitely agree that the future of online gaming is in games that play to a wider audience, that don't require multiple hours per day to feel part of the experience, and (for example) which still have gameplay but require neither programming expertise or high-end raid skills for the player to be successful (and, to Matt's earlier point, which also have 3D graphics -- those aren't just a fad).

These games won't be pink. They just won't be blood red either.

9.

Mike Sellers wrote:

You want to put some numbers with that? More than WoW's $1B in annual revenue? (If you're going to invoke Bejeweled as representative of casual games, I'll invoke WoW as representative of MMOGs.) Or just more than YPP's few million per year? (Not that I'm turning my nose up at that either!)

Just more than YPP. The 'traditional' industry (whether you include subscription-based games in there or not) certainly dwarfs the 'casual' industry in terms of revenue and ARPU.

--matt

10.

hey baby

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