The Business of Online Games
It might not seem like a big deal to play a video game online, but to the game industry, it’s as big as the biggest feature of any game in history. As of this writing, the total number of online games is in the millions. The percentage of games sold with online play is also growing steadily, especially with the shift to casual games.
“I think there’s been a huge number of people in the industry that are working on the assumption that it’s not going to last,” says Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. “It’s going to be the norm for a long time.”
The industry is also in the process of getting its arms around a new technology that has emerged that allows players to use their PCs, laptops, and mobile phones as gaming devices, eliminating the need for a console or game-dedicated machine.
“This is the future,” says Larry Goldberg, general manager of technology at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), an industry trade group. “It’s not a fad. It’s not something that’s going to go away. It’s the way the industry is going to grow.”
That growth is being spurred by a number of factors, including the popularity of online games, the rapidly expanding broadband Internet infrastructure, and the continued success of console and PC gaming, as well as mobile phone gaming.
Online gaming has become an increasingly popular form of entertainment, with more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide. And in the U.S. alone, the number of online games is expected to double by the end of 2005, according to a recent industry report.
Although online ข่าวเกม have been around for more than 10 years, the number of people who regularly play online games is still relatively small. According to an August study from the U.S. Interactive Software Association (ISAA), 40% of American Internet users play at least one online game, but only about 4% play online games regularly.
An additional 8% play a video game online once a month or less.
Many of the more popular online games have a strong online presence. For example, “World of Warcraft” and “EverQuest” are two of the most popular games, and they are both online games.
More recently, “Lord of the Rings Online” and “Second Life” have come on the scene. “LOTRO” is an online game that lets players explore Middle-earth, while “SL” is a virtual world where players can interact with each other and build their own virtual homes and businesses.
“World of Warcraft” and “EverQuest” are subscription-based games, meaning that players pay a monthly fee in order to play. The subscription fee is typically much lower than the cost of the game itself. With “LOTRO” and “SL,” however, players can play without a subscription. Online game developers are also able to generate more revenue with online games because of the different business models they offer.