Last week, Atom Entertainment launched a massive new business plan. Primary among this was the rebirth of Shockwave.com. This new design features areas for new types of gaming like online and multiplayer games. It also incorporates Shockwave.com Unlimited, a pay service that gives unlimited, ad-free access to hundreds of online and downloadable games in the Shockwave.com library.
Atom also announced the creation of the Shockwave.com Game Studios. Along with developing new content for the site, the new entity will help make branded games in-house and through independent game developers. This is part of a larger initiative by the company to give more targeted advertising opportunities to sponsors.
With such bold, sweeping moves, Atom is obviously hoping to make a large splash in the casual games market. GameDaily BIZ chatted with Dave Williams, CMO and GM of Atom Entertainment, about the new website, the new developer and why all these announcements happened at once.
Pumping up Shockwave.com makes a lot of sense as a business move. It's already one of the Internet's most popular casual game sites and has the potential to be even bigger. The simple casual gameplay brings in an audience of not only gamers looking to blow off a few minutes, but also parents who'd like a safe, cheap gaming experience that they can experience with the kids.
"With the release of the new site, we are substantially increasing our commitment and investment in exclusive online games and ad-supported games. We redesigned that site to have a broader appeal to all types of online game players. The graphics are more fun and energetic, and we have made it much easier to navigate through our growing catalogue of over 300 games," said Williams. "We have expanded shockwave.com clubhouse which is our kids only section and introduced a new multiplayer section of the site called gameroom, which we expect to be quite popular. In addition we continue to expand our network of independent developers for both online and download games and think 2006 is going to be a very healthy, creative year in casual games."
"We believe there is enormous room for expansion in the downloadable casual games market which is the driving force behind the creation of Shockwave.com Unlimited. Our unique, 'all you can eat' subscription model provides unlimited, ad-free gaming across hundreds of games with broad appeal to all family members," he continued. "We have a huge community of over 25 million game players visiting shockwave.com each month and we would like to give those users more options to communicate with one another, play head to head or collaborate on game play. For example we will be launching a 'jigsaw party' game in the next week or two that enables jigsaw players to work on a puzzle together and chat with one another as they play."
Branded Games and Their Creation
"Advergames" is a big buzz word right now in the interactive entertainment industry. Same with "in-game ads." By founding Shockwave.com Games Studio, Atom is not only investing in its game development future, but is also giving easy access to advertisers who want their brand out there in the casual games market.
"We have an advergame promotions program which gives advertisers who produce their own games the ability to drive hundreds of thousands of online game fans to their latest games. These programs will be on Shockwave.com and its sister site, AddictingGames.com," explained Williams. "We are substantially expanding our portfolio of games enabled for in-game ads - the Shockwave.com In-game Network (SIGN). Four top Shockwave.com action games have already been enabled for SIGN, representing more than a million game sessions per month and delivering over 12 million impression opportunities each month, and more are being added in Q2."
Turning to the new in-house developer, he said, "The Shockwave.com Game Studio will develop exclusive online games for the diverse Shockwave.com audience and work directly with advertisers to develop custom branded games both in-house and through the Shockwave.com extensive network of independent game developers. In addition the Studio will develop cross-site community and multiplayer features and games."
All of these concurrent announcements might seem sudden, but their proximity isn't a coincidence. Shockwave.com is one of the Internet's oldest and largest resources for casual gaming, and Atom hopes to stay on top with these strategic moves. It shows confidence in the short term and ambition in the long term that will likely pay off.
"Atom Entertainment believes there is going to be rapid expansion in casual online game playing in the next couple of years as consumers in a wide variety of demographic groups realize the value of online gaming," added Williams. "Increased interest and investment by advertisers in casual games, combined with improved web technologies and ubiquitous broadband access, will enable the development of better, richer online game playing experiences."