Profit-sharing model for casual games

Rebecca Weeks Watson · January 20, 2009 · Short URL:

Publishers and game developers split revenue while advertisers reach an engaged audience

 Unlike the depressing affects on most entertainment companies with subscription and micro-transaction business models, the recession could actually boost the casual gaming industry. Instead of spending $20 to $50 on PC and console games, many game lovers are opting for free online web games. This shift will benefit ad-supported casual game networks such as MochiAds and Hooked Media Group, both of which provide a profit-sharing platform through which publishers, advertisers and game developers can all achieve their goals simultaneously.

For online publishers, distributing casual games can increase several important metrics: total page views and impressions, “stickiness” (meaning a longer time spent on the site), and repeat visits. The larger these metrics, the greater the potential for the publisher to generate substantial ad revenue. The games, which are delivered with embedded paid ad units, complement traditional ad banner revenue and offer an additional no-cost opportunity.

The distribution platform—take Hooked Media’s collective of female-focused sites as an example—allows game developers to monetize their online casual games without upfront costs. The larger the popularity of a game, the higher the number of advertising impressions, thereby generating revenue for the developer.

For advertisers, the Hooked Media network engages over one million consumers a day in an immersive experience which combines strong engagement and increased brand presence. Check out the Bad Hair Day game on ( to get a feeling for how addictive these games can be.

In the following interview, Prita Uppal, Hooked Media Group’s ( founder and CEO, explains why the platform is poised to succeed.

RW: What is the current online casual games market opportunity? And how large do analysts predict it will be in two or three years?

PU: Recently published data include:

    * 34 percent of U.S. adult Internet users play online games on a weekly basis.
    * Casual gamers spend 14 hours per week playing games online.
    * The casual gaming market is worth an estimated $2.25 billion annually, with a 20 percent growth rate.
    * By 2010, the number of casual game players could grow from the present 60 million population to as many as 80 million players.
    * Women continue to account for the majority (74 percent) of all casual gamers.


RW: What is a common misperception about casual gamers?

PU: Most believe that casual gamers tend to be teenage boys, when in fact free game sites have become a furtive pastime among office workers, insomniac mothers and chronic procrastinators, and it is women aged 25 to 45 who play the majority of these games.

RW: Why did you decide not to hire developers on staff to develop your company’s own games?

PU: Our model is to help game developers all over the world monetize and distribute their games. Developers upload their games to our site and receive a percentage of the advertising dollars generated by those playing their games. The more popular a developer’s game is, the more the developer earns. This model has become so popular amongst game developers that we are able to offer our publishers access to many of the most popular and well known flash games that exist. We have over 400 games, many of which have been developed specifically for our network.

RW: What results are your publishing clients seeing in terms of increased user engagement?

PU: Our publishers are noticing considerable site lift as a result of the games. The average game session is 8.6 minutes. We have sites that are experiencing 250 to 300 percent increase in time spent on pages by those users that are playing games. This can result in an overall site lift at an average of two minutes.

RW: What ad format are you using?

PU: We currently offer a video pre-roll and a slide-out rich media companion ad.

RW: What is the value to an advertiser to buy a campaign in your network?

PU: First, we deliver a fully captive audience of women who are household decision makers. Second, casual gamers average 5.1 hours of game play each week, up 28 percent from the year before, according to research firm Interpret. These gamers, Interpret says, buy more goods online than the rest of the population, are 22 percent more likely to research product information, and more than 35 percent are more likely to change brands.

RW: Who are some of the advertisers that have purchased campaigns within your game network?

PU: We work only with brand advertisers that are looking to reach women, such as consumer packages goods companies, retail, pharmaceutical, and entertainment studios.

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