Yahoo Expands Game Offering with Ad-Supported Downloads

Yahoo has begun offering ad-supported, downloadable games on its Yahoo Games portal. The offering debuted yesterday with 50 titles, and Yahoo aims to provide a catalog of 400 games by year’s end.

Yahoo Games contains a mix of editorial and entertainment content. In addition to reviews and articles, it hosts Web-based games in several categories — from Flash-based to social to skill-based to strategy-based — both ad-supported and paid. Yahoo believes embracing downloadable games will let it provide a richer user experience.

“The downloadable casual games tend to be higher quality graphics, higher quality audio, the ability to save states [of a game] and score information, the ability to pick up where you left off, and all of the benefits of being on the PC,” said Kyle Laughlin, head of games at Yahoo.

Yahoo partnered with two firms, Double Fusion and NeoEdge, to provide ad support for its expansion. The ad networks will split inventory and sales responsibilities. Yahoo doesn’t plan to sell ads directly at this time, but Laughlin offered this caveat: “We want to make the lives as easy as possible for advertisers, so if an advertiser wants to purchase search and in-game, we will be able to equitably sell a package.” Laughlin said advertisers and marketers can expect the same level of behavioral targeting within the downloadable games they get elsewhere in the Yahoo network.

Double Fusion and NeoEdge will primarily sell pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll video ads, but there may be opportunity for custom units such as overlays.

Titles are provided by a large number of casual game developers, including Big Fish Games, GameHouse, iWin, PopCap, Sandlot Games, Zero G and Mumbo Jumbo.

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