Jeremy Lewis, chief executive of Seattle-based Big Fish Games, said in a keynote speech at the Casual Connect game conference that the company will develop big titles for People.com, not just “white label” games (white label seems like his code for lots of generic games that really suck).
People.com has 32.6 million unique visitors a month and is part of Time Warner’s media empire. About 88 percent of the visitors are women and the games would reflect that. Lewis didn’t describe the games and said more news about them would come later. The deal is further validation that big brands want to get into games, which are the fastest growing form of entertainment, even in the recession.
Big Fish Games is a leader of the casual game business (game that are short, easy-to-learn, and not hardcore) and it raised $83.3 million last year, a record amount of money for a U.S. game company. Its strategy with People.com is markedly different from that of Real Networks, which has 2,800 casual games and is licensing them widely to 650 different sites.
While Lewis didn’t drop anymore hints about the People.com deal, he did say that casual game developers need to be courageous, explore new frontiers, and redefine what casual games are. He showed a scene from one game, Drawn: A Painted Tower. The game had a cinematic feel, with a spooky art style and haunting music that seemed more like a movie trailer. Most of Lewis’ talk was inspirational, focused on how to build value in a company.
“We as an industry have limitless potential to build value, value that will endure if we do it right,” he said.