Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nickelodeon Goes Casual

Big news from Nickelodeon out of this week's Casual Connect gaming conference in Seattle, involving plans to invest $100 million in the online casual games market over the next two years. According to Gamasutra, the investment is "part of MTV's strategy to secure a leading role in the gaming space -- including casual, console and handheld games, as well as related media." The plan is to spread it out over a number of initiatives, which will include:

- myNOGGIN: An "edugaming" subscription service aimed at preschoolers where, as Kidscreen writes, "toddlers can play educational games and parents can track their progress" (launching Fall 2007)

- New features for Nicktropolis: Including multiplayer games and tournaments (date TBA, but I assume "ongoing")

- Nick Gaming Club: A "kid-friendly" subscription service featuring multiplayer games, CGI avatars and community-building applications (launching in 2008)

- The-NGames.com: (In partnership with AddictingGames) A massive online casual gaming site focused on teen girls.

- Expansions to AddictingGames: Including casual MMOGs and the introduction of AddictingWorlds (and continued partnership with Habbo)

- Neopets will be transformed into Neostudios: Shifting the "focus on developing new virtual world gaming experiences online while continuing to grow and evolve the existing ones." (launch end of 2008)

Gamasutra also reports that Nickelodeon plans to put more emphasis on "user-submitted games" by increasing uploading capabilities and game-making engines. As always, however, the company has its sights firmly fixed on advertising and cross-promotional opportunities:
The company also says that increased Shockwave focus will be placed on the creation of games that will also provide opportunities for prominent integrated advertising. ...Shockwave plans to link itself more closely with family-targeted brands within Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group, like Nick-at-Nite television, to give advertisers the ability to promote their messaging across multiple platforms.

During a keynotes address Cyma Zarghami, the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group president, was quoted saying, "Particularly in the kids' space, with more than 86% of kids 8 to 14 gaming online, we see great momentum for online casual gaming. This investment will not only benefit our audiences, but also our marketing and distribution partners." After spending yesterday afternoon doing data entry for my content analysis of Nicktropolis, counting the advergame applications and creating an inventory of the number of "chat phrases" containing brand names, the fact that they're planning to use these games for integrated advertising is probably the least surprising thing about this announcement. But the addition of actual games in Nicktropolis will be a relief...as it stands, it still plays like a really boring version of Habbo Hotel, but with way more ads.

Also, check out Izzy's post on this very topic from yesterday--scooped again !)

1 comment:

Izzy Neis said...

LoL, Sara! You always out-info me anyway ;)