Nickelodeon has announced plans for 600 casual games to be introduced across its network of websites over the next couple of years.
The games are part of a two year, $100 million investment by the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group into casual gaming. The company said its current online games attracted 25 million unique users in February, dwarfing the 15.5 million users who visited the Yahoo Games site. The games will be shared across Nickelodeon's range of sites appealing to preschoolers, "tweens," teenagers and moms. Nick.com, which brought in 2.1 million unique visitors last month on its own, is expected to see the addition of 185 new games this year.
Revenue models for the new games are still considered experimental, however, including "try before you buy" options, microtransactions and in-game advertising. While some watchdog groups have expressed reservation about the use of advertising in games aimed at young children, Evan Wilson, a senior research analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, said the industry has handled its obligations responsibly, telling the New York Times, "Since its inception, the online games business for kids has been far more sensitive than the TV industry was."
"What video is to TV, games are to the Web," said Steve Youngwood, Nickelodeon's executive vice president for digital media. "For us to be relevant to our audience, that is where we need to put our investment."