Casual games are not just downloads
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Casual Games are not just Downloads. Brian Robbins Fuel Industries. Overview. Everyone thinks Casual Games = $20 try-before-you-buy That’s not true! Reach a different audience There are lots of ways to make money, and the most successful companies will use several methods. Ad Supported.

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Casual Games are not just Downloads

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Casual Games are not just Downloads

Brian Robbins

Fuel Industries

CGA Seattle 2007


  • Everyone thinks Casual Games = $20 try-before-you-buy

  • That’s not true!

  • Reach a different audience

  • There are lots of ways to make money, and the most successful companies will use several methods

Ad Supported

  • Advertisements are placed around the game

  • This can happen in a browser, or wrapped in a download

  • If in a download, the more integration you do, the higher revenue share you will get

Ad Supported examples


  • Boonty

Ad Supported



Portals don’t want to share

When they do share you get poor revenue share

Careful not to get too annoying for players

  • Easy Money

  • Ad market is doing great


  • Build a web-based version of the game

  • Put it on your website, or other web portals

  • Typically built in Flash, but other tools exist

Web-Based examples






Not all sites share revenue from web versions

Need Flash or Shockwave proficiency

Lots and lots of web content available

  • Lots of sites looking for web versions

  • Ad revenue can be fairly significant

  • Simpler development than a full casual game

  • Can take advantage of community easier

Downloadable Console

  • This is really sweet!

  • All 3 consoles are working on methods for this

  • XBLA is the most mature

  • Nintendo may be the most open

Downloadable Console examples

  • XBLA

  • PSN

  • WiiWare

Downloadable Console



Approval from console maker required

Needs great production value

Tools are more expensive and limited

Success is unproven for PS3 and Wii

  • Great conversion rates

  • High profile in game industry

  • Huge bragging rights

  • Can have great production value

  • Some room for very innovative titles


  • Build games for and around client brands

  • This is NOT putting logos in a Bejeweled clone

  • Work direct with brands or through their agencies

Advergaming Examples


  • American Dad vs Family Guy

  • Sneak King




Sales process can be very long

Brands are tough to work with

Little room for a huge payoff

Need to focus on this market to succeed

  • Fixed budget = fixed risk

  • Get to work with huge brands, and built in audiences

  • Work on projects without a focus on sales


  • Users pay a fixed recurring fee for content

  • Can be a single game or a suite of games

  • Provides full or discounted access to content

Subscription Examples

  • Shockwave Unlimited

  • RealPass

  • PuzzlePirates




Need to provide new content

Who’s customer is it?

Difficult to build

  • Recurring fees = awesome

  • More stable revenue month to month

  • Greater player attachment


  • Selling stuff in very small increments

  • Could be additional content, outfits, badges, powerups, etc

Microtransactions examples

  • Puzzle Pirates

  • Pogo

  • Habbo Hotel




Need lots of players

Community and/or Multiplayer is a requirement

Portals may take convincing

  • Can offer the game free

  • Can provide a recurring revenue stream

  • Potential for higher revenue per person

  • Direct to you!

Skill-Based Games

  • Competitive Play

  • Multiple people pay, most of the entry fees go to winner

  • Providers split the remainder

Skill-Based Games



Skill-Based Games



Not much revenue

Very few companies in the space

  • Additional revenue stream

  • Fairly easy to modify an existing web-based game

Mobile Games

  • Developing for cell phones

  • Can be unique content, or modifying existing games

Mobile Games Examples

  • MoFactor

Mobile Games



Enormous amount of work to support all handsets

Distribution tightly controlled by carriers

Not a lot of revenue

  • Good to license in successful titles

  • Lots of interest in the space

What’s happening now

  • Advertising $$$ = Download $$$ (for portals!)

  • Web Games are big again

  • Some Web 2.0 plays

What’s coming next?

  • Lots more community

  • Web-MMO’s with multiple business models

  • Convergence of companies

  • Further driving casual games into middle-aged woman niche

  • Community created content

What’s not worth trying?

  • Skill-based games

  • Mobile

What’s nobody trying?

  • A game portal for the masses

  • Tying into web 2.0 ideas

  • Passive play

  • Mass audience play

Thank You / Questions

  • Brian Robbins – [email protected]

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