In another of today's main Gamasutra features, the full-day tutorial at the Casual Games Summit at this year's GDC featured an over-arcing "übertheme", broken down into digestible segments. That theme, roughly hewn, being a comparison of casual games now to where the industry was three years ago revealing how much casual games have grown since.
As explained by the panelists, who number some of the most notable casual game developers and publishers:
"James Gwertzman, the director of business development for Popcap Games, next dipped into the various ways to actually make money in this industry. He outlined what he considers the four most viable business models of today – "try 'n buy", also known as the old shareware approach; advertising-sponsored; subscription-based; and "skill-based gaming" – and the most enticing future prospect, that being the fabled micro-transactions, where players buy in-game items or, as with arcade games, pay to play.
The idea behind the "try 'n buy" model is to entice players with a free game, then to "upsell" – meaning, to entice them with the greater prospects of – them to a free trial of a "deluxe" game, be it a sequel or a more full-featured version of the game they already enjoy. Then after the trial period is expended, put a price on it - thereby getting the user to buy the game.
There are the two old routes for in-game advertising: online ads and sponsorship (which tends to include the "advergaming" contingent. Online ads cost about five to twenty dollars per one-thousand impressions, and they pay about one to four cents per session. Since a session tends to contain about two ads, that means they pay around ten to forty dollars per one-thousand impressions. Sponsorship goes for a fixed fee, which tends to range between twenty-five thousand and one million dollars."
You can read the full Gamasutra coverage on the discussion
, including some fascinating descriptions of casual game models (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).