October 27, 2010

MediaWeek

WildTangent Boosts Ad Pact With CrowdStar

WildTangent, which distributes casual games on the majority of PCs shipped in the U.S., has inked a pact with CrowdStar, one of the largest developers of games on Facebook this side of category giant Zynga.

Through the deal WildTangent will implement BrandBoost, the company’s ad platform which allows brands to provide game players with free virtual goods and/or content in exchange for viewing their ads.

WildTangent launched BrandBoost earlier this year within Sony Online Entertainment’s game Free Realms. Since then the company implemented BrandBoost within games produced by Playdom, the social gaming company acquired by Disney over the summer.

CrowdStar, which claims 50 million players, will utilize BrandBoost on the games Happy Pets, Happy Aquarium and It Girl.

WildTangent executives see a major future for brand-funded virtual goods—since so many advertisers are interested in riding the social gaming wave, yet many games—like Zynga’s massively popular FarmVille--don't lend themselves to banner ads or pre-roll video spots. The company has had much success in monetizing casual Web games using a similar strategy—enabling advertisers to provide users with free WildCoins (virtual tokens) to play certain games in exchange for viewing ads.

Now WildTangent’s sites are set on the social phenomenon and what they see as vast potential. The company says it now reaches 100 million gamers on Facebook alone. “By aligning the dramatic growth in social gaming with a scalable, engagement based advertising model, we are approaching an inflection point where social games can rival TV for marketers’ budgets,” said WildTangent evp Dave Madden.