Arkadium continues to drive forward in the Flash-based games market
Thursday, February 21, 2008
continues to drive forward in the Flash-based games market
By Michael Lafferty
“Browser-based games have been a trend and they have been getting a lot more exposure because the technology is improving”
When you are one of the leaders in a games’ space, you either have to continue to work to keep your positioning, or you risk being overtaken and replaced. Arkadium is a company that not only has a prominent position in the browser-based casual games market (via its Great Day Games site) but also provides games solutions for Web pages of a diverse business community intent on driving new traffic to sites and providing unique content.
The Arkadium crew is at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco and that is where GameZone.com was able to touch base with CEO Kenny Rosenblatt about the company. The company recently announced that it was looking to increase its vast library, which features more than 250 Flash-based games (games which utilize the Adobe Flash software) by 25% in 2008. These are not just titles that are slapped on the Web site, but rather owned IP that have either been purchased from other sources or developed by the Arkadium studio.
So what determines the type of titles that will be released?
“I would like to say sales and marketing drive the pipeline of the games we release,” Rosenblatt said, “but I think we have a really creative studio and what they think is cool and makes up the trend in gaming determines the other half of what will be released in the next year.”
Arkadium should know a thing or two about its corner of the industry. The company was founded in 2001 and has a target of having more than 1,000 games in its library by 2010. As stated, though, the Great Day Games site is only part of what the company does. Clients having game content on their Web sites furnished by Arkadium include CBS, Fandango, Publishers Clearing House, Mattel, Hearst Magazines and the recently announced National Geographic Channel.
What Arkadium does is to customize game content to put on those sites. In the case of the National Geographic Channel, two specials on dinosaurs are slated and so Arkadium was brought onboard to create Flash-based dinosaur games.
When Arkadium first started up, there were several software options it could have chosen to base games on – Flash, Shockwave and Java. It picked Flash and, as it turned out, the Adobe-owned product has become the top format on the Internet.
“Because Adobe is so committed to the technology, and they are constantly making improvements,” Rosenblatt said. “Do I feel handcuffed by them? … a little bit, but every request I get from clients is a no-download Flash-based game. The skill set we have (on the development team) is Flash-base technology and that has won market dominance.”
And there is the popularity of Web-based games that are continuing to drive the market.
“Browser-based games have been a trend and they have been getting a lot more exposure because the technology is improving,” Rosenblatt said. “We cater to every demographic out there. There is no user demographic we don’t cater to.”
“All of our Match 3 games are very popular with the younger female demographic; our casino games are popular with the male demographic; and puzzle games do well with the older crowd.”
Simplicity is the key to success in the industry. As Rosenblatt stated: “We have a rule that if you can’t figure out the game in 10 seconds we’ve failed.”
When it comes to the business end of the casual gaming market, Arkadium takes great care to find out what is being played and following the trends. That means lots and lots of market research and keeping track of each bit of information gleaned from people logging into a site. And when it comes to casual gaming, players are not logging in for great lengths of time.
“Throughout the day there are a lot of five-minute windows,” Rosenblatt said. “Our games are perfect time fillers for those snippets of time. A casual game is a perfect time session. On Great Day Games our average session time is about 19 minutes.”
And as for passing along the information in a form that is beneficial to its clients …
“It’s a fun challenge to keep track of the evolving nature of the business,” said Rosenblatt. “I would say we are in the 90% mark” in matching games to the client.
Resting on its laurels would be easy, but one of the reasons that Arkadium was at GDC was to make a visible statement that it is in the market for more games. Rosenblatt acknowledged that Microsoft’s XBLA initiative will drive more small developers to start the process of creating games, but developing for XBLA can be expensive at a certain point.
“We are starting to open it up a little more,” said Rosenblatt, “to find developers we can pay to develop games or if they have developed games we will try to acquire the license. The kid in his basement who is a great game developer” is the type of developer that could find his or her game published by Arkadium. So how would a small developer with a Flash-based game go about having Arkadium have a look? It’s easy. Send them an e-mail (email@example.com) with a link to the game and the Arkadium team will have a look.
For the company, though, the sky still seems to be the limit. As technology continues to evolve and new video cards create the ability for Flash to start using three-dimensional rendering, Arkadium feels it is positioned to really secure its place. And because of the way technology is progressing, games that were predominately PC based will find their way onto television set-top boxes and Arkadium has even had a Flash title on the Wii (and that means developing with the Wii-mote in mind, which also opens up a host of possibilities).
Rosenblatt realizes that Arkadium is “definitely one of the leaders in the market – but we have been doing it since 2001. Over the last four or five years we‘ve really hit a groove.”