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Keeping the Promise of Casual Games: Entertainment for Everyone John Welch CEO, Play. First Keeping the Promise of Casual Games: Entertainment for Everyone John Welch CEO, Play. First Casual Games Summit @ Game Developers Conference 08 February 2008

about me • • • Degrees in Math & C. S. Career in product about me • • • Degrees in Math & C. S. Career in product management SEGA (Sega. Soft Networks): 1998 -1999 Shockwave. com: 1999 -2004 Play. First: 2004 -present Almost 10 years in casual games

in the beginning in the beginning

these were the casual games these were the casual games

but ‘casual’ cameof this because to mean but ‘casual’ cameof this because to mean

what exactly is a ‘casual’ game today? what exactly is a ‘casual’ game today?

casual means accessible Is the game accessible to a “significant number” of people? • casual means accessible Is the game accessible to a “significant number” of people? • attractive theme? • friendly to new / occasional users? • fun enough to do again / bring friend in?

casual means accessible Is the platform accessible to ‘everyone’? Physically: Do most people want casual means accessible Is the platform accessible to ‘everyone’? Physically: Do most people want to buy it? Can they find it in a store/online? Socially: Do most people want to play it, tell their friends about it? Mentally: Do most people feel comfortable, or are many intimidated? Behaviorally: Do most people have time for this?

is mobile casual? Everyone has one Even buy-1 -get-3 -free support games Conservative view is mobile casual? Everyone has one Even buy-1 -get-3 -free support games Conservative view today: • Neither is yet ‘casual’ • because everyday folks don’t download games on their mobile phone Future: • Everyone has one everywhere all the time… • and uses it for apps & games • doesn’t get more accessible than that

are consoles casual? Grandparents are playing Wii Sports with their grandchildren. Conservative view today: are consoles casual? Grandparents are playing Wii Sports with their grandchildren. Conservative view today: • Exceptions, not rule • Only kids buy/play console games • Consoles not emotionally available to adults Future: • Entire family accesses interactive media via some box connected to the television

pc: most casual + most hard core “the internet” ~= “America” $349 $6, 496 pc: most casual + most hard core “the internet” ~= “America” $349 $6, 496 Reality today: • 76%of American’s have PCs • 238 million U. S. Internet users • Most exceed casual MSR’s • Most play casual games • And then there’s Wo. W on a $6500 Dell XPS 720

the promise the promise

all people read, watch, listen • to diverse genres of media • on diverse all people read, watch, listen • to diverse genres of media • on diverse ‘platforms’ • are games really different?

everyone should play games! everyone should play games!

a neat idea • “Games” have always been for everyone. – But “video games” a neat idea • “Games” have always been for everyone. – But “video games” never were. • Let’s make video games a universal form of entertainment!!! – This sort of just started happening in the late 1990’s w/ Pogo, Shockwave, Yahoo, etc. – We put a label on it: “casual games” • 5 years ago “we” all fit in one room

vision Elevate video games to become a first-tier form of entertainment enjoyed by everyone vision Elevate video games to become a first-tier form of entertainment enjoyed by everyone

we are making progress • Our customers truly are ‘everyone’ – 28% of the we are making progress • Our customers truly are ‘everyone’ – 28% of the total worldwide online population are “gamers” [Comscore - May, 2007] • Gaming is the #1 activity (length of time) on the personal computer – 34% of all adult Internet users play games weekly [Parks Associates - 2007] • Even game development teams are becoming more diverse – 26% of Play. First game production staff is female [I counted]

good money here $12 Billion Market N. A. Game Software: 6% growth (ESA) $10 good money here $12 Billion Market N. A. Game Software: 6% growth (ESA) $10 Billion Market w/ 35% growth rate $5 Billion Market CGA: 20% growth

even the vc’s have noticed even the vc’s have noticed

but action will follow but action will follow

are we done? are we done?

Are we done CREATIVELY? • done inventing genres? • only for nerds? Are we done CREATIVELY? • done inventing genres? • only for nerds?

Are we done ECONOMICALLY? Are we done ECONOMICALLY?

Are we done CATEGORICALLY? • Demand ($$$) has always been on the console • Are we done CATEGORICALLY? • Demand ($$$) has always been on the console • Supply coming from two directions • Are we getting squeezed out? Maybe our turn is simply over!?

no! no!

we are the future! Retail publishers + platforms great at serving core audience • we are the future! Retail publishers + platforms great at serving core audience • Don’t get the web will make mistakes we already made • Budgets, schedules, thinking are all wrong can’t do it small

how long do we have? …even though this is a tech-savvy part of the how long do we have? …even though this is a tech-savvy part of the country… I guarantee you that we don’t have 50% penetration into the Bay Area homes with video game consoles… … they’re too hard, they’re too expensive and they’re too intimidating, I’ve never played with a controller, the game comes up and I have no idea what I’m doing … Everyone loves playing games. I don’t care who you are. Yet we put a barrier in this industry (for) people who didn’t grow up … with a controller in their hand. Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, San Francisco Chronicle Jan 2008

what a few smart people can do • • Dwarf best console innovations like what a few smart people can do • • Dwarf best console innovations like Dance, Guitar Hero, Wii Sports All created by a few founders who are now really wealthy • Internet = platform where YOU can innovate w/out permission – where YOU have advantages over the big players.

we need to change we need to change

not good enough 2007 Highlights • • 6, 000 Diner Dash clones 2, 000 not good enough 2007 Highlights • • 6, 000 Diner Dash clones 2, 000 Mystery Case Files clones Philosophical dilemma over is the “ 3 -in-a-row” dead Real innovators are cloning Club Penguin What did we do to grow this market? ? ?

our customers agree Customer Poll: Are you happy with the creativity and innovation in our customers agree Customer Poll: Are you happy with the creativity and innovation in casual games today? 42% “Absolutely, I find new games all the time” 50% 8% “Occasionally I’ll find a No, they all seem the same to me” Casual gamers want more innovation! Source: Play. First. com survey – warning – not a highly scientific approach! gem of a game:

how about our business model? Customer Poll: How do you feel about current purchasing how about our business model? Customer Poll: How do you feel about current purchasing options for casual games? 28% “I’m happy with the $20 model” 71% “I want different options, such as subscription or pay-per-level: ” The majority of casual gamers want more innovation

some progress here • Play. First: – Diner Dash: Hometown Hero • Multiplayer, avatars, some progress here • Play. First: – Diner Dash: Hometown Hero • Multiplayer, avatars, episodic content • Only 1 out of 30 games we published • Only 1 portal would launch it (Yahoo!) – Play. Gold stored currency • Wild. Tangent – Wild. Coins ad-friendly micro currency (see next slide)

rationale for lack of innovation • Portals won’t let us innovate; they only want rationale for lack of innovation • Portals won’t let us innovate; they only want stand-alone $20 games • Our customers are happy; they don’t want anything different. • Reality = innovation is difficult

imho imho

please consider • Portals – Differentiate your service. – Share the customer. – Say please consider • Portals – Differentiate your service. – Share the customer. – Say ‘yes’ to the innovators. Say ‘no’ to the cloners. – Limit participation to allow suppliers to recoup investments. • Publishers – Take all financial risk: higher budgets, lower royalties – Build YOUR brands: story, characters, ongoing content – Invest in innovation: “genre filler” OK, copy not OK • Developers – Be the artist, not the banker. – Beware the glut!

when we succeed ‘Casual’ goes away as a category. We will have delivered on when we succeed ‘Casual’ goes away as a category. We will have delivered on our promise that games are for everyone.