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Q&A: Meebo's Sternberg On Integrating Games And Chat

IM and chat web utility Meebo has added over 20 ad-supported games by multiple third-party developers, which include 3rd Sense, Mochi Media, Kongregate and PlayFirst, to its platform, allowing Meebo IM users to play multiplayer games together - CEO Seth S
IM and chat web utility Meebo has announced that its users can now play newly-available games on its platform. Third-party developers 3rd Sense, Absolutist, Clearspring Technologies, Come2Play, Gamebrew, MediaGreenhouse, Mochi Media, MyGraffitiWall, Jiggmin, Kongregate, PlayFirst, Presidio Studios, and ZeroCode have together contributed more than 20 games using the Meebo Platform API. The initial platform launch, which took place October 30th, 2007, made voice chat, group voice calling, video and audio calling and live broadcast available to Meebo users, and now Meebo will offer a continually-updated catalog of multiplayer games that will allow users to play head-to-head or in groups online. Meebo says more than 200 developers have registered apps for its platform, and in the near future, the category will expand to include shopping, productivity and work applications, music and video entertainment. The newly-launched titles include Animal Puzzle, Artillery, Backgammon, Battle Pool, Blackjack, Checkers, Chess, Connect4, Go, Kongregate Racing, Match4, Music Man, Picture This!, Pirate War, Platform Racing, Reversi, Sheep Me, Sploder, Sudoku Wars, Tactics 100, Texas Hold ‘Em, and World Travel Puzzle. Meebo CEO Seth Sternberg explained, "If Google is search, YouTube is video and Facebook is a social utility, then Meebo aims to be live interaction. These multiplayer games will make the Meebo experience more fun and give our users new ways to connect live with their buddies.” We asked Sternberg about the idea to integrate multiplayer gaming into IM. "Meebo is all about connecting live with your friends, be it chatting or doing a video call. Playing games was just another example of things that friends like to do with each other online," he said. There's clearly been a social gaming trend on the rise, as casual games gain appeal and widespread online multiplayer becomes a norm. According to the Gartner group, 66% of teens and young adults IM more than they e-mail , with IM expected to become a "focal point" of work-based communication by 2013. So how does playing a game in a Meebo IM differ from playing at, for example, a casual portal? "We think a place like Meebo is a great way to bring online casual games to a broader audience," said Sternberg. "There are definitely some great gaming sites out there, but not everyone is a gamer that will actively go and find those sites." How will the developers monetize their Meebo apps? Through Meebo revenue relationships, through which ads will run alongside apps, with a share of those ad dollars going back to the developers. Meebo devs also have the option of declining Meebo's ad arrangements and running their own ads on their app, hand-picking advertisers that are particularly relevant or targeted to the application's intended audience. This arrangement is geared in particular for independent developers, allowing them to influence their own revenue streams. Added Sternberg, "At any given time, Meebo users can have 50 or more friends online. They might be looking for something to do after homework or taking a five-minute break in their work day. Meebo makes it easy for an impromptu online game to happen between friends."

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