Google's got game, casual game that is

casual-connect.gifWhatever tumbles its stock is taking, one thing is clear: the search giant is dead serious about casual games. That’s the gist from their “AdSense for Games” presentation at last week’s Casual Connect conference in Seattle, and if the specifics are still sketchy, the salient point is that Google is actively optimizing AdSense to work with Web-based casual games. If they deliver the goods, this is revolutionary news for game development, and the Net in general.

The AdSense for Games initiative is co-led by game industry veteran Bernie Stolar, whose experience is mainly in consoles, but the initial focus, according to a report from the presentation, is “ads in Web-based games, with plans to move into PC and console games later on.”

Why is this revolutionary? Well, let’s run with a specific example: when I profiled the creator of the enormously popular Desktop Tower Defense, he told me his Flash game was generating 20 million page views a month. At the time, his main revenue source was AdSense, and if it was a normal website, that would likely translate into tens of thousands in ad dollars monthly. But as it turned out, he was only making high four figures per month– great for a one-man development team, but not enough to build a larger business on.

The problem was that few players clicked through his AdSense strip, because it couldn’t be ideally integrated into the game’s Flash panel. An AdSense optimized to Flash and other game-centric platforms would mean more revenue, would mean more companies jumping into this space, would mean tremendous shifts toward an audience of casual gamers which is (as the presentation noted), upwards of 200 million. The size of this audience cannot be understated: 1 in 4 of all Web users visit gaming sites, primarily to play casual titles. So a system which monetized this usage better wouldn’t just influence the game industry, but the development and direction of the Web in general.

But once again, details remain vague, with Adsense for Games’ rollout planned “soon”. So whether it changes the Internet business or just enhances it remains to be seen.

Hat tip: The excellent and indispensable Alice Taylor of Wonderland.

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