Internet gambling games are aimed at people who have lots of money to spend + focus heavily on getting the money from people as quickly and easily as possible. The games industry could learn a lot from them, and they better had before they start losing customers to them.
That was the main message of a talk by Phil Mochan of Media and Game Technologies http://www.mediagametech.com/ at Develop 2008 yesterday. It's unglamourous when compared to the other talks, but Phil is pretty much on the button.
i-gaming is short for internet gaming and sort of means "games for money", not necessarily gambling per se. It originates from online casinos. The online monthly spend of a US i-gamer is around $72 compared to $12 for a gamer. Does that mean that people who produce games are selling to the wrong people? or do different types of people want different products? The online gaming industry should be working ahrder to identify who has the money and make games for them rather than making games for themselves and then trying to sell them to people who haven't got that much spare cash anyway.
The fact that the i-gaming industry is moving towards making the i-games more gamelike and less the traditional gambling as they try to diversify might indicate that deep down people want the same thing - a bit of fun and a sense of achievement.
Billing is an integral part of a paid-for game, after all if you can't charge people to play then you won't get any revenue. However, the online games industry seem to leave it to the last minute to think about it. All of our effort is focussed on making a great, fun, challenging gaming experience that gamers want to keep coming back to. Which is a fine endeavour, but it needs to be treated as a commercial enterprise too which is probably where the difficulty lies. Game developers are artists, not business people. Commercial success is gained through making an addictive game, not by clever targetting and we certainly don't make it easy for people to sign up, start playing or pay us.
The i-gamers are eyeing up the gaming market and thinking that they can take a slice of it. They've been through the struggle of coping with regulations and of making it easy for people to give them money, so they may well be able to implement their gambling-related games much more smoothly than the games industry. The casual games market will be the first battlefield.
Thanks to Phil Mochan of Media and Game Technologies for "Design Strategically: Is Your Game Missing The Market?" at Develop Conference 2008