Verizon is joining some of its competitors by launching a suite of casual games for its FiOS subscriber base. AT&T and DISH Networks have recently announced similar launches. Shawn Strickland, Verizon’s vice president of video solutions, tells Multichannel News that the game titles will include games like chess and sudoku, educational titles, and interactive games developed for DVD platforms. Verizon intends on making some titles free and charging for others through pay-per-play and/or monthly subscription fees. Gaming has always been seen as a potential differentiation strategy.
Defining a lucrative business model for television based gaming has been a little elusive. In the U.S., gaming’s most passionate players tend to be console (and to some extent PC based) players. Passionate participants tend to be the ones willing to spend real dollars. Verizon’s (and others) initiative targets more casual gamers, who represent a decent sized market. Multicchannel News reports that the Casual Games Association, an industry trade group, estimates more than 200 million people worldwide play such games on the Internet today. The question yet to be fully answered with casual gamers is the amount of revenue a service provider can consistently generate from them. There certainly is an argument to be made for not looking at casual gaming as a profit center, rather as a differentiating hook to attract and retain subscribers. Gaming experiments will certainly continue, as triple play competitors continually strive to find the right combination of services/features that keeps paying customers coming (and staying).