GMC Session: Opportunities on Emerging Platforms

Presentation by Bob Aniello, VP of Marketing, JAMDAT Mobile

We are facing the largest platform transition in the history of gaming. If you just look out over the next two years, what’s coming in the pipeline … mobile 3G, improvements in 3G networks, the next generation of handsets — full, 3D handsets, that are going to greatly enhance cell phone games. All major cable companies are gearing up to launch new gaming systems on their platforms, geared primarily towards a more casual audience. And of course blue-ray and HDTV formats are going to greatly enhance the capacity of DVD games. And of course, the continued expansion of broadband and wireless networking.

Advertising-supported products and services are replacing traditional retail models. Would it be conceivable that one day games are made and supported through advertising? Digital content delivery is displacing traditional retail and creating a far more powerful intermediary between publishers and consumers. Consumers are playing the same game (for different reasons and in different ways) on console and mobile. Gaming, more than any other segment, has an opportunity to truly deliver on the vision of connected entertainment.

We just conducted research at EA that shows 92% of mobile phone game players also play games on other platforms, 72% play games on their laptop or PC, and 23% use another mobile device to play games. On mobile, they’re seeking out games that they know or have had experience with on other platforms.

So how do you survive platform launches? I’d like to share a couple of my lessons: 1) Be first, but be right; if you’re not right, better to be second. 2) Play for impact. Budgets are very tight, so go for impact, not reach. I’ll give an example from Jamdat with Lord of the Rings, which was an impact program. 3) Sell the experience of the game, not the fact that there’s a game. 4) Listen most to those who make you the most uncomfortable. Those who are the most critical can help you plan your contingencies. In the long-term, they’re going to save you some pain.

Be first, and be right: You may be interested to know that DVD games [games that run on a standard DVD player, not PC DVD games] are a $400M category. There are 50 titles on the market, but only only the movie/TV trivia games are actually selling (with about a 65% marketshare on that platform). [At Mattel] We did our homework. We did a lot of research about the experience you could get from a DVD game, and found that movies (rich media of course) was best, and the most desired by consumers. Other big companies, Disney for one, and WB, they took their TV shows and did what I describe as a porting strategy. My competitor Hasbro simply tried to port their traditional games, like Trivial Pursuit and Candyland to the DVD platform. Did not work. So Mattel really did its homework, and because of that, they dominate the DVD games category with over 60% share of that market.

I admit being totally unaware of the scope of this game category. Very interesting stuff! Check out these useful links I dug up: board game makers turn to DVD games and Screen Life’s website (they make the category’s leading products; Mattel is the publisher.)

BTW, the presentation went on for a bit, but this was the part I found most interesting. Bob addressed “playing for impact, not reach” but basically just talked about how Jamdat used partnerships with carriers and distributors to extend their effective budget (and thus extend reach!) I sorta tuned out after that.

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