Friday, July 11, 2008

For some reason i keep having these conversations with these people from skill-game companies who want to figure out how to convert their players into people who'll play for cash. I wrote a long fairly complex paper on the subject six months ago, citing some of Henry Jenkins work on collaborative culture (what draws people to online communities like these) and drawing on my fairly extensive experience in the space. The net net is - ITS NOT GOING TO WORK. There's really not much point in reading all the 'here's what these analysts over at E&Y had to say about the sector growth' and mapping those projections to the realities or the breakout of all the attempts by very large online organizations to make these games work (backgammon to mahjong) and why they've all failed (no matter what model was attempted). The only route that seems to work is the large scale advertising model - but that requires HUGE channel relationships with giant piles of eyeballs (ie what EA seems to be doing with POGO in China if the guys they're talking to to run the thing are telling me straight (language barriers can be tough some days)).

Ultimately - there are probably ways to make these sorts of things almost work - but you have to have DEEP pockets, have a method of pouring massive amounts of your profits back into brand building to fend off the traditional game portal brands and service providers who see gaming communities as easy advertising eyeballs, and all the idiot companies that will come along and blow massive wads of cash trying to snap up your fun players so they can try to do the impossible themselves.

The reality is - doing online gaming requires COMPLEX infrastructures that you are not going to build in your garage with 3 guys who havent been there and done it. If you want to build these things - you need to find people who've done it - and you need to VET YOUR IDIOT IDEA before you waste the development money. MARKETING REQUIREMENTS DOCUMENTS people... do your homework... if some sleazy CEO comes to you and promises you a billion dollars if only you'll give him enough money so he can fly first class to China and stay in a 5-star hotel - odds are you're being taken for a ride.

In the end - sometimes - it's not about the execution. Some ideas are just bad. An MMORPG based in a high school for example... (Of course, if you're going to make a verb out of a bacteria, it might as well involve a dance mix...)

3 comments:

Karmadrome said...

Nice example. Too bad Charm doesn't read this, huh?

Karmadrome said...

Oh, and having seen the video.

Dude.

GreatGoblin said...

what...
trust me - it could be worse...