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Glaser outlines five point plan for future of casual gaming

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser has identified five key areas of development which casual games companies must focus on if the sector is to achieve mass market success.

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser has identified five key areas of development which casual games companies must focus on if the sector is to achieve mass market success.

Speaking at the Casual Games Association's Europe: West conference, which kicked off in Amsterdam yesterday, Glaser began his upbeat keynote speech by tackling the hot topic of monetisation.

Claiming that only 2 per cent of customers commit to purchasing a casual game after a free trial period, Glaser predicted that advertising would provide the bulk of the sector's future income. He cited RealNetworks's Clicktopia and streamed video advertising templates as examples of how ad-based revenue systems could be successfully employed in casual games.

Glaser went on to state that the sector must capitalise on its promising growth by branching into new formats, including next-generation consoles and handhelds.

"We're seeing a lot of consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and DS being aimed at a wider demographic, not just the hardcore gaming market," he explained.

However, Glaser also sounded a note of caution - warning that each platform has its own unique requirements, and that if true multi-platform success is to be achieved, every product will need optimising for specific formats.

"Just making a great game on the PC is hard," he stated. "It doesn't automatically translate to these other platforms. The games have to be optimised for each platform."

While Glaser was confident that these multi-platform markets would grow over time, he also warned that growth rates "may not be as spectacular as some people have suggested in the short and mid terms".

Next up was the subject of casual gaming growing into a worldwide industry - with Glaser stating that many rapidly growing markets such as South America and Asia still remain relatively untapped.

Pointing to RealNetworks's new deal with Yahoo to power game sites across Europe as an example of how the industry must become more global, Glaser moved on to his fourth tip for future success - the need to integrate into communities and social networks.

Citing Asia as an example of how the industry needed to adapt, Glaser pointed to the failure of the Try Before You Buy model in most of the continent's major countries.

"[Try Before You Buy] works in Japan, but in the very large markets such as India, China and Korea, there's not a tradition of this model working," he observed.

"However, there is a model that's working great, and that's about being members of a community. If we want to become a global business we have to get smart at that approach."

Glaser rounded off by insisting casual gaming must start establishing itself as a mainstream entertainment medium on a par with hardcore gaming and film. He said that that in order to do this greater press awareness and wider review coverage is paramount, along with the introduction of known and trusted brands - like Monopoly and Scrabble - into the marketplace to attract new customers.

"Our goal is to make casual games to be seen as just another form of entertainment, where the press will review it just like they would a movie or a hardcore game," stated Glaser. He concluded that, "It's just a matter of time till we get into the mainstream."

Despite Glaser's perhaps overly optimistic final conclusion that the casual gaming market was the healthiest industry of all of the entertainment mediums, his assertion that the sector has one of the largest growth possibilities is far harder to argue against - and it's a sector that Glaser and RealNetworks are clearly determined to remain at the forefront of for years to come.

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