GameTap Goes Ad-Supported (and FREE)

by Robyn Tippins on May 2, 2007

I’ve not gotten a subscription to GameTap because we already have far too many gaming choices at home that I can play easily with a controller. I’m not a fan of keyboard-controlled games (gasp) and I haven’t taken the time to make my television easily linked with a computer, until now.

When we moved, my husband sneakily purchased an HDTV (one of my first days in the office) and took my gaming laptop and joined it (via MediaCenter) to this shiny new TV. I came home from work and in a day he had transformed our box-filled living room into a full-fledged media room, which is amazing since the codecs for MediaCenter are notoriously still tricky deal with and the fact that he did this feat in a few hours is mindboggling. If you haven’t set up a MediaCenter, or played with Vista either, then you don’t understand, but if you’ve even attempted this, then you know how long this takes, if you are ever even successful. When I installed the Vista beta last fall, I had no sound for months (explains the LONG time between podcasts and vidcasts, doesn’t it… I blame it all on Microsoft LOL).

Anyway, it was this MediaCenter/HDTV that made me want to give GameTap another look. I finally have a reason to hook my controller up to this TV. I mean, I can probably do it easily using the XBox Extender service.

But, I probably would have still taken months to get around to doing this, if I hadn’t read today on ArsTechnica that GameTap is going the ad-supported model and making their service free.

While GameTap will still offer subscriptions, GameTap.com will expand from its current role as a portal to the GameTap client and will offer big-name classic games to play for free, all supported by the ads displayed on the page. The new site will launch on May 31 and will feature 30 games to begin, including titles like Metal Slug, Joust, and Rampage. These are titles that are being sold for premium prices on other consoles, so they may be able to draw the high number of people required to make this strategy profitable.

There literally is no barrier to playing now. As a marketing hack I always get excited when I see advertising used in creative and relatively new ways, but the cheap geek in me has always dreamed of a day when all games will cease to be $60 a pop and will be liberally sprinkled with ads and in-game placement ala most movies. Has that day finally come? Well, not really, but still I can go and play Metal Slug and Joust, and soon Laura Croft: Anniversary.

The service doesn’t open up until the end of the month, and it will be competing with the much anticipated Halo 3 beta (May 11-June 9), but I’m sure I’ll still find some time to Joust my heart away for free. Of course, that doesn’t even begin to imagine the fun we could have on GameTap, one-the-go, with a UMPC. Gosh, just thinking about it gives me goose bumps!

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{ 2 comments }

Daniel Sweet May 5, 2007 at 8:31 am

The irony of GameTap, for me anyway, is that they install a ginormous client that needs a ton of video and processor horsepower to play … 20 year old videogames.

I hope that they fix this problem with the new client.

Dan

Rob Dunn May 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Re: in-game marketing. I love this idea, as reality is filled with marketing, and to make the in-game experience give you a sense of immersion by adding real-world advertisements seem only natural.

The problem comes when you are playing a game like (one of my personal faves) Anarchy Online. The game is are set in a futuristic alien society, and now you see Air Force or Fanta advertisements…kinda ruins the immersion a bit for me.

I realize the companies can’t really spend the resources on making context-sensitive ads for games, but making them a bit less obtrusive might be a good compromise.

Now, advertisements at the beginning of movies…that’s another story!

Rob

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