What it is: A video game broken into TV program-size chunks. Keith Halper, CEO of episodic-game publisher Kuma Games, said while the development model for major console games is similar to Hollywood films -- taking years and tens of millions of dollars to create -- episodic games are akin to TV and thus able to be created more quickly and responsively (and less expensively). The titles have multiple advertiser-sponsored episodes that are delivered over the net.
How they're doing: Kuma's demo (90% male; average age 26) looks similar to that of console gaming, said Mr. Halper. But he's noticed strong uptick in usage over the past nine months. The games require a downloadable client; in Kuma's three-and-a-half-year existence, it has seen almost 3.5 million unique downloads, but 1.5 million have come since November. Kuma attributes the recent boom to an increasing number of PCs that have enough power to run video games. Kuma also has created episodic games that correspond to series on History Channel and Spike TV, whose promotional power has helped drive use.
Who's advertising: So far, Kuma has integrated the Jeep Patriot into a game called DinoHunters; other advertisers such as Dell and eMusic have run interstitials, which air during download. The ad model includes both a CPM fee and pay for performance.
The process: Jeep's integration into DinoHunters began with media agency PHD as a media buy and then incorporated the brand's gaming group at BBDO, which worked with Kuma on creative strategies and briefs. Jay Kuhnie, director of Jeep Communications, liked that it was an opportunity to go beyond just pictures of vehicles on billboards or interstitials. "It's a dynamic game, with opportunity for almost virtual reality test drive," he said.