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Beyond Ad Sales: Retail, Subscription Revenues For Casual Games Are Up, Too

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Mediaweek, keying on the fact that companies like WildTangent and MTV Networks’ are raking in the ad dollars in spite of cutbacks elsewhere, asks whether the casual-games industry is recession-proof. But ad sales are only half the equation — retail sales and subscription revenues also contribute to the bottom line. And for companies like PopCap Games and RealNetworks, those numbers are coming in just as strong.

Retail sales: PopCap’s 2008 retail sales revenue grew 85 percent over 2007, while overall PC game sales fell by 14 percent; spokesperson Garth Chouteau said it was partly because the company had brokered better agreements with retailers like Target and GameStop over inventory supply and pricing. He also said iPod and iPhone adoption had boosted mobile sales “significantly” over the past year; mobile game sales now account for “over 20 percent” of PopCap’s revenue stream.

Subscriptions: RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) didn’t break out subscription stats from its RealArcade casual games service, but the company’s games revenue was up 9 percent year-over-year in Q4. RealArcade relaunched GameHouse, its other casual games hub, and gave users multiple payment options, including a $20/month subscription, over the course of the Q4 as well.