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The token system, called WildCoins, lets users extend their game play as long as they wish without having to spend the typical $19.95 to buy the game. Coke is offering tokens as prizes through a loyalty program on its MyCoke Rewards site. Redmond, Wash.-based WildTangent is also for the first time releasing software to game developers that will let developers create spaces for ad units inside games. When the user begins playing a game online for free, the ad is served dynamically. If the user actually buys the game, the advertising is shut off.
$2.1 billion industry
The company announced the token system at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., this week. WildTangent features 250 games for a range of demographic groups including, moms, children, adult men and the elusive and marketer-attractive young males. IDC predicted that the online gaming industry will grow from $500 million in 2004 to over $2.1 billion in 2008.
“It lets the advertiser slice and dice across demographics," said Dave Madden, exec VP-sales and marketing, WildTangent. He added that he is talking to a variety of blue chip advertisers, including auto makers, consumer packaged goods manufacturers and media companies, about placing dynamic ads.
Up to now, it was too expensive for advertisers to pay to giveaway a game to users as part of a campaign. "This is a way for us to unlock customer promotions within video games," Mr. Madden said.
An incentive for developers
WildTangent also gives game developers a share of revenue for all the tokens sold. Given the 1% to 2% conversion rate of most online titles, this meant that game developers were locked out of recognizing any revenue from the bulk of game play. "It helps accelerate quality of games into the marketplace," Mr. Madden said. "Developers [have an incentive] to create the best content now."
WildCoins are offered at www.wildtangent.com for $5 to $20 a month per pack. Consumers can spend the tokens across WildTangent's network of 250 games. Tokens will carry over form month to month. The tokens can also be used to buy game play on the WildTangent gaming software inserted within the 20 million PCs shipped by Dell, HP and Toshiba this spring.
Once a consumer inserts a token, they can play as long as they wish. "A session buys you as much as you want to play -- you can play for 5 minutes or 5 hours. The whole idea with casual gaming is that it's supposed to be relaxing and not stressful," Mr. Madden said.