Leisure Gamers

Our IGB Press Release service informed me a foundation of new company to Develop “Massively Scalable Online Games”.

I checked Spark Forge’s website and the first thing that caught my eye in this news was “leisure gamer”. Developers / marketers talk about either “casual” or “hardcore” gamers – but these guys mention leisure gamers.

According to Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai, the online game market is expected to grow to $4.4B by 2010. Much of that market includes a type of player referred to as a “leisure gamer,” a segment largely ignored by the current trend toward designing games for the extremes of “hardcore” or “casual” gamers. Massively Scalable Online Games (MSOGs) are intended to focus on the interests of the leisure gamer—people who enjoy challenging games that offer persistence and community without the time-sinks and financial commitment of the typical massively-multiplayer game.

One could argue if “leisure gamers” are part of “casual gamers” rather than completely new segment, but nevertheless, it’s interesting to see new businesses being founded dedicated to certain segments.

“Massively Scalable Online Games (MSOGs) bridge the gap between the single-player market, which tends to be dominated by expensive hit-driven development, and the massively-multiplayer world, where thousands of players interact in universes under the exclusive control of publishers,” explained SparkForge founder and CEO Jon Radoff. “We’re going to make fun, challenging, massively-multiplayer games that players can make their own. The big difference is the “scalable” word—players will have the choice of using company-sponsored servers, or guilds will be able to setup and run their own customized gaming sites.”

We’re creating products for a new category that we call massively scalable online games. These are games that give you choices: you can play solitaire if you like, or go online to play with thousands of others. You can play on company-sponsored servers, or on gaming sites you setup and run yourself.

The concept sounds interesting, but I have no idea how these guys are going to do this – I mean… from single to multiplayer gaming is not totally new (as we seen even in indie games such as Minions of Mirth), but it will be nice to hear how they are do the scaling.

SparkForge is currently developing a MSOG that will be built upon the “SparkForge Platform,” an environment that allows online games to expose access to game content through websites. In addition to its proprietary game development, the SparkForge Platform will be made available to select licensees in the online game industry.

For indies it would be nice to know in what price range the technology will be – it’s hard to tell if their technology is meant for big corporations or indie developers.

More on their website: sparkforge.com

Juuso Hietalahti

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