When we refer to online games we are normally referring to video type games that we play on a computer via the internet. Some video games are played over the internet using mobile phones and video consoles, but generally speaking online games means computer games that need an internet connection to be played. Simple text-based multiplayer games were the first of these types of games as internet connections were slow and expensive when these games were first introduced in the 1980s. Gradually these games became popular in the 1990s, with today’s online games featuring virtual communities, realistic graphics and multiplayer games where people can even play one to one or in knock out tournaments for cash prizes. We all know that the internet is the fastest growing market place in the history of the world but did you know that there is an online games sector that is growing 4 times faster than the internet overall! Yes! and it’s the “Online Skill Games” market.There are many styles of Online GamesSome of the different types of online games that exist:1. Real time strategy games: This type of game is all about strategy where, for your army to fight successfully against the other internet players you need to develop a game plan by building lots of resources2. First person shooter: Here the players compete with each other one to one. In most first-person type games, the online game allows the death match or arena style of play. In this style of game play the view you see is the one seen from your character’s eyes.3. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG): In this type of game each person has to keep trying to reach the next highest level until he has reached the top one written for that game and these online games can have, simultaneously, thousands of players from every part of the globe, playing in a giant virtual world interacting against or with each other. Gamers can keep playing these types of games for months or even years!4. Browser type games: These are pastime games that are quick, simple and small that are played in your browser. The popular Java and Shockwave technologies are used to develop these games.5. Online skill games: An online skill based game is a web game played in tournament format or one to one. Each player pays a cash entry fee to play with a cash or merchandise prize going to the winner or winners. The outcome of each competition is based on the player’s ability and performance not luck.How Do Online Game Companies Make MoneyAll games today, are playable online. How do we make money? This is the question that companies making the online games have to ask themselves. The majority of companies make single-player games that are played at home and in this the player has to beat the artificial intelligence of the enemy. Today these games normally include an online multiplayer version which can be played against or with other Internet players. By selling their game DVD/CDs is how these companies earn their profit e.g. Warcraft 3 and Counter Strike. Advertising and promotions is how browser game companies make their money. MMORPG companies generally charge their players a monthly fee and continue to add content by programming new scenarios etc in their games e.g. Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. Some don’t, but survive because their DVD/CD sales are high e.g. Guild Wars.What is the future of online games?Soon there will be a new entry into the online skill games market. According to their Free Online Games Market Report they will be the first company with their new online skill games platform, to launch a business that encapsulates three of the newest phenomena on the internet today. Online Games Entertainment, Social Networking using web 2.0 and a new way of marketing which has been described as Social Marketing 2.0. One of the core differences with this new platform over the conventional models is that we the players can if we want share in the profits while we play our games. With the market today (2007) worth approximately $5.2 billion USD and predicted to rise in the next 3 years to over $13 billion USD that’s $412 per second and with social networking sites already reaching 45% of web users and the 4 major Instant Messengers having more than 400 million users between them this potentially could be a whole lot of money.
Successful entrepreneurs are people that always see opportunity in any situation. By nature they are positive and constantly seek innovations that address wants and needs that they identify in their contemporary environment. Currently we are in a dark economic period, and this will prove to be a fertile time for the introduction of novel innovations that will reward their creators with significant profit.The world’s most famous, widely played and sold board game is Monopoly. Lizzie Phillips created the first version of the game that was to evolve into modern Monopoly. Her game was meant to promote the single tax theories of Henry George, and the play rules were heavily influenced by his populist philosophy. Ms. Phillips filed several patents on versions of her game around 1904. She enjoyed modest commercial success.The game and its play rules were tweaked through the years. Subsequently, the various forms of Ms. Phillips rudimentary game that were introduced never enjoyed great sales but the game never quite disappeared. Then came the Great Depression.The many causes of the Great Depression have been well chronicled and today most people are aware of at least the broadest reasons for the implosion of the world’s economy. Greed was the cause most often stated at the time to assign blame. Society was highly segmented by wealth, education, geography and class. Charles Darrow recognized opportunity in the misery of so many and crafted his classic version of Monopoly to address the perceived social sins of the times.The play rules and component elements of Monopoly, little changed to this day, reflected the deep divisions in society. Darrow’s game, launched in 1935, displayed the whole range of opportunities for failure and success that could occur in a capitalist society. You could go to jail, be taxed, be fined, go bankrupt or land on owned property and have to pay rents to the hated landlord if the dice were unlucky for a player.Likewise, you could “pass go” and collect $200, win dividends, buy property, build houses and hotels, own railroads (the classic metaphor for greedy capitalists) and collect rents if the roll of the dice favored you. Also, you could bankrupt your opponents and this occurred with frightening regularity in real life during the 1930′s.Clearly Monopoly was a game that resonated during the darkest days of the Depression and still works as a leisure activity to this very day. Darrow attained great wealth from the sales of his version of monopoly. Monopoly was licensed by the British Secret Service through John Waddington Ltd. during World War II. The International Red Cross forwarded Monopoly sets to British war prisoners incarcerated in Nazi camps. These games included hidden packets of real money, maps, communication devices and tools for use in escape attempts.Parker Brothers secured the rights to Monopoly and succeeded in internationalizing the game by assigning country-specific play features. For instance, in the American game, the most prized real estate deeds to own are Park Place and Boardwalk. In the British version the most prized blocks of real estate to own are the very tweedy Park Lane and Mayfair.The game’s origins, history and ownership are surrounded by significant controversy. Parker Brothers attributes all of the creative, copyrights, play rules and component design of Monopoly to Charles Darrow. This lead to decades of legal wrangling over the true ownership as Lizzie Phillips and others claimed creative ownership of the game. These legal issues were not settled until the 1980′s.There are a number of lessons for modern inventors to be taken from the profitable, but stormy history of the simple board game of Monopoly.If the game has play rules that anyone can easily understand, play is fluid, play pieces are simple and attractive; then there is potential for commercial success.You must protect your game with copyrights, trademarks and patents where applicable. Not properly protecting these valuable assets lead to much disagreement and expensive, extended legal wrangling in the case of Monopoly.My consumer product development and marketing consulting company sees more toy and game submissions than almost any other product category. The barriers to entry in this class of trade are reasonable if the inventor is willing and able to bootstrap their offering. We recommend a play focus group to confirm that target players affirm the attractiveness and commercial appeal of the game or toy.Recently, for a class project, a third grade teacher let us borrow her class of 23 students to play a new sports board game for half a day. We filmed the session. We also had the kids answer a series of simple questions of their play experience. Based on their reactions, we were able to adjust one basic play rule to further simplify and expand the appeal of the game. The change resulted in the final result of the game becoming much more closely contested, therefore exciting.The perfect time to launch a new product is always now. Time is never the friend of the entrepreneur. If you wait for the perfect time, the best market conditions to appear, someone can beat you to market with a product that cannibalizes the best parts of your idea. This happens all too often. Waiting for a better climate is an excuse for inaction and a sure path to mediocrity. Charles Darrow’s launch of Monopoly in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression is a wonderful example to study.