My Editorial Response from 2002 MidwestBusiness.com
Received: 11/8/02 12:45 p.m
I read your article regarding pay-for-play video gaming and the lack of game play in today's video game landscape. I wanted to share some insights on one direction the market is heading that I know you will find very interesting.Some of the most interesting developments will be in the area of promotions (zero-level and low-level premiums as traffic-driving incentives). You’ll see this combined with Flash-based cell phones and PDA video games that award said premiums based on standing using the XML interfaces in the recently released FlashMX.A game produced for the “Four Feathers” movie showcased the use of XML interfaces to allow turn-based multiplayer gaming. The same types of interfaces are being developed to allow for secure game server statistic reporting.Zero-level and low-level premiums (branded keychain giveaway, buy one and get one free, free drink with sandwich, etc.) will be awarded to cell phone accounts based on game server standing and redeemed at Marathon, McDonald's, 7-Eleven, etc. (thinkSpeedPass).While pay for play will exist and grow to be a more relevant portion of the gaming community, it will continue to be a very niche market for the foreseeable future. The business model has nearly fully evolved and many award structures, sweepstakes and prize-pooling options have been floated and tested with little to moderate success.It is my opinion that the most relevant advents will come as a result of gaming (particularly cell phones and PDAs) as an extension of traditional promotional and advertising campaigns.The efforts under way look to be extremely promising. Imagine a commuter playing a sports/racing/adventure game on his cell phone while riding into the city on the Metra, seeing in-game advertising that builds brand awareness, the game ending with "game over" followed with "you've earned one credit good for one free cup of 7-Eleven coffee."The first trials will be followed with more ambitious prizes (or sweeps entry) for the very top-level gamers in the game server hierarchy. Premium suppliers get advertising, brand awareness and increased in-store traffic with every redeemed zero-level/low-level premium.Cellular service providers get more games/content with which to sell more phones and upsell service packages. Gamers get coupons, free coffee or newspapers for doing something they would have done anyway.