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Marketing Opportunities Emerge in Online Gaming Venues

  |  August 1, 2006   |  Comments

Persistent worlds attract thousands of players and set the stage for marketers to engage with players.

Marketers looking for 18 to 34 year old males can look to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) for opportunities, according to an Universal McCann report, "TrendMarker, Parallel Worlds." While these opportunities exist in certain genres, brands must be creative to make an impact in certain massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) (define)titles.

The MMOG category consists of persistent worlds where thousands of people play and interact simultaneously. JupiterResearch estimates such games generate revenues of $350 billion per year, occupying about nine hours a week for the typical player. Most gamers are male between ages 18 and 34.

MMOG games fall into four genres: fantasy (89.1 percent market share); sci-fi and superhero (7.1 percent); combat simulation and first-person shooter (0.9 percent); social and other situation-based (2.9 percent). For advertising messages, social and real-world-like titles offer appropriate context. Fantasy and sci-fi games set in fictional worlds in the past or future lack context for ads within regular gameplay, however these do offer alternate opportunities.

Special events, competitions, and sweepstakes are often held around fantasy-based MMOGs. "Sponsorship of such an event allows marketers to reach an otherwise elusive audience," said the report about the sponsorship of the annual Electronic Sports World Cup, where the purse is $400,000. Reality-based game "Second Life" recently held an in-game event for the opening night of 20th Century Fox movie "XMen3," hosted by MTV. The same game held a virtual "Relay for Life" walk for the American Cancer Association which raised $5,000.

In social and real-world-based games standard ads add authenticity, though some marketers opt for deeper integration. Electronic Arts' "Sims Online" offered Nike shoes that enhanced a player's speed. Within "Second Life," players can buy MP3 music from iTunes and play the songs in the game. The report sums up this level of engagement with the suggestion "interaction with the virtual world allows marketers to fuse brands with attributes in a powerful way."

A Forrester Consumer Technographics report says 21 percent of North American consumers regularly spend leisure time playing games. The MMOG category takes up a significant portion of that, offering a social, engaging experience in which marketers can reach consumers.

Universal McCann analyzed data from sources including JupiterResearch; Forrester; and reports from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

MMOG Market Share*, January 2006 (%)
MMOGMarket Share
World of Warcraft39.7
Lineage II15.8
Final Fantasy XI5.7
EverQuest II2.5
Star Wars Galaxies2.2
Dark Age of Camelot1.5
City of Heroes1.3
Ultima Online1.1
Toontown Online0.9
Eve Online0.7
All others3.7
* Excluding Ragnorok
Source: Universal McCann, 2006

MMOG Market Share by Genre*, January 2006 (%)
MMOGMarket Share (%)
Fantasy role-playing game89.1
Sci-fi/superhero role-playing game7.1
Combat simulation/first-person shooter0.9
* Excluding Lineage, Lineage II, and Ragnorok.
Source: Universal McCann, 2006

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Enid Burns

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