Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gamers have friends?

Let me try to summarize this one quickly:

A study was just released that shows that how many titles you sell doesn't necessarily translate to how many people actually played the game. Turns out, if you sell 10 copies, maybe 15 people actually play it.

"For example, NPD Group research showed Activision's Call of Duty 3 sold 2 million units in the United States as of Feb. 3. According to the Gameasure report, that game was played by 9 million people."

Not exactly a breakthrough in science but I'll buy it.

Now why do we (game producers) care if more people play if you only get paid for the single purchase? In-game ads, of course. The firm that came out with the study is trying to stir up the way that marketers typically estimate and pay for ads in retail titles. Currently, deals are made based on expected number of units sold. Therefore, if more people play than units sold, then maybe you're not charging enough. That's a great insight. Unfortunately, it's got a short shelf life.

This study is only applicable for the titles that never go online, thus restricting their in-game ads to remain static. If, however, a title has any online capability, then the ads can be dynamic and updated at will. When this happens, you shouldn't count potential revenue/costs by units sold, you would count by impression. (An impression is when an ad is served up online) This is how ads are sold on websites. So as interesting and relevant as the above study is to marketers, it's too little too late.

Dynamic in-game ads is where we're heading. In fact, when it comes down to making money by ads, it doesn't matter how many units you sell as long as you get enough eyeballs on your game. Which brings us again to why it makes sense to do free games and digital distribution.

via USA Today

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