Where is RealNetworks, the 100-pound gorilla? At the Casual Games Association’s Casuality games conference that started today in Seattle.
But I wonder how long Real will dominate the category after it starts cluttering its games with advertising. Today’s big announcement was that Real’s going to add streaming video ads — just like TV ads — into its online casual games.
Rob Glaser showed how the system now works in the Netherlands: Most of the screen is filled with an ad before the game, then a banner stays across the top of the screen and a thumbnail remains on the right side during play. The big advance though is a new form of interstitial ads that appear between levels. Every time you complete a level, you have to watch a full-screen ad for, say, a new Honda. I didn’t see the little “close this ad” button anywhere.
Glaser said Real is trying to figure out the best way to monetize casual games. Another approach may be similar to the way movies are sold to consumers: new releases can be purchased without ads, similar to the way you buy a movie on a DVD, but after a while the games will be offered for free but with ads — just like old movies that appear on TV.
“This is just a start to learn what models work,” he said during his keynote.
Glaser also talked up Real’s Emerge mobile gaming platform and a deal with Hasbro for online versions classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble.
The biggest applause came when Glaser said Real is making progress on a plan for sharing its subscription revenue with developers of casual games. He said the plan will be announced within “months.”
Glaser kept the crowd waiting in the lobby at Benaroya Hall 20 minutes past his scheduled start time, giving some time to sample the handful of demos.