The Legacy of Casual Games

Casual games saw a large-scale shift from a paid or subscription-based model to ad-supported model over the past few years. It’s influenced developers and publishers to change gears away from a try-before-you-buy strategy. Results have paid off for many casual game developers: advertising has brought in more revenue than from online consumer purchases of games. Even in-game advertising networks such as Double Fusion are getting casual, and many publisher sites readily share ad revenues with developers.

What if you’re not as big as MySpace, or Yahoo? How do you bring traffic to the site or gain distribution? That’s the challenge. Legacy Interactive, a developer of casual games titles such as “Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes,” “Zoo Vet,” “The Apprentice,” “Clueless,” “Mean Girls,” and “Pretty in Pink,” evolved over the past few years from selling CD-rom games, to downloads, to experimenting with ads. To monetize its games sites including Legacy Games the company has entered into lead-gen relationships to subsidize games. “Customers are interested in alternatives to plunking down $20 on their credit cards,” said Ariella Lehrer, CEO of Legacy Interactive. They’ve also explored opportunities with PaidGamePlayer and other companies.

Currently Legacy has partnered with Mochi Ads, an ad network for online Flash games. We’re told that the partnership creates a distribution network and brings a great deal of traffic back to Legacy, Lehrer told me. While Legacy has gained significant site traffic, there are still ad opportunities to fill, according to Lehrer. She’s been challenged to find a company to partner with for product placements on upcoming titles, and sees opportunity in pre-roll and mid-roll units in-between levels. One roadblock she’s encountered is finding the balance between specialization within an ad network in the casual games category, and distribution in the form of traffic to Legacy sites, or distribution of Legacy games on other casual games sites.

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