As more and more free-to-play games turn to licensing, in Gamasutra's latest feature
, CrowdStar CEO Peter Relan explains that in-game brand placement is "lower hanging fruit" than a fully licensed title.
"I'm neither a fan nor am I not a fan of licensing an entire game," he explains. "But because the investment can be four times the magnitude higher [for a licensed game], we are currently involved only in in-game brand integrations which is better understood, is less complex, and requires less development time. Full-game licenses are not on our drawing board but it is something we are investigating for the future," said Relan.
CrowdStar created an Old Navy store in It Girl
where, rather than buying generic jeans, users could make in-game purchases of Old Navy jeans. Over 9.5 million users visited the store, 7.5 million racks were searched, 5.5 million garments were purchased with in-game cash, and 300,000 Old Navy gifts were sent to friends.
"This is an ongoing effort on our part to find just the right brands to license and incorporate into our F2P games," says Relan. CrowdStar would only entertain the idea of creating an entire game around a brand if "the brand has a natural fit to our sort of game design skills and our audience management skills," he adds.
"The investment may be high, but we might go for it if we feel the payoff isn't that risky, if we are pretty sure we can monetize users, and if we're confident we can get our investment back and make a good return on it. So far we haven't found that sort of synergy, but obviously our recent investment from Time Warner has given us a huge library of brands to sort through."
The full feature, which also features fresh interviews with Bigpoint (Battlestar Galactica
) and Gazillion (Marvel Universe
) is live now on Gamasutra