Rick talks about how Exent can help you distribute your game to a wider audience
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Interviewer: I’m here at Casual Connect in Seattle, and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?
Rick: Hey, I’m Rick Marazzani. I’m the Director of Content and Programming for Exent.
Interviewer: What’s Exent done?
Rick: Exent is the world’s largest games on demand distributor. What that means is we can PC download casual games, and we distribute them all over the world to people for one low price. They pay a flat fee of, say, $15 or $20 a month for all the PC games they’d like to play.
We have over 1800 games in the catalog from all genres and all categories. We like to say we have a broadband connection to the family PC, meaning that we have kids that play, mom that plays, dad, junior, whole family.
Even though most of our business is casual games because that’s how PC gamers play, we have something for everybody. So, when they want to play Clifford, The Big Red Dog or they want to play Age of Empires, that game’s there when they’re done playing [?] for Zombies.
Interviewer: So, it’s kind of like a service.
Interviewer: Always on the PC.
Rick: Exactly. No one’s ever heard of Exent. We’re the service behind the service like Verizon games, the Qwest Q Zone, The Frag Service on T-Mobile Chat Free Ride Games which is very into our service and ad supported rather than paid subscription. So, it’s the same type of distribution, PC games, large catalog but the games are monetized with ads.
Interviewer: So, with the Verizon service, that’s not on the cell phone. That’s on the PC or something.
Rick: So, this happens frequently. Verizon’s really big in broadband Exent BIOS. In California no one has ever heard of BIOS, but where they have BIOS it’s the coolest killer broadband service. We power games for the broadband services.
Interviewer: So, some of the big companies had already offered broadband and might offer your service on top of their product.
Rick: Yes. We’re a value added service. So, when you call to order HBO or when you upgrade your access line from DSL to BIOS, the operator says, “Would you like 1800 games on demand with that?” And that’s primarily how we’re sold.
Interviewer: And where can developers benefit from this?
Rick: Developers benefit because we have a large diverse catalog. We’re not wedded to one game mechanical or game type and that we do service the entire family. It’s interesting to note that 99 percent of the games in our service get played in every pay period which means every game makes some money. And the better your game is and the more game play there is, the more money your game makes.
Interviewer: So, is the amount of money a game makes dependent on how much time is spent on it or how many plays there are?
Rick: It’s based on time played. So, if you have a very deep, sticky game that has lots of game play, someone can really make lots of money. If you have a short, disposable or consumable experience, you’re not going to make as much money. We have all sorts of games.
A hidden object game that is designed to be cheap and “try and buy”, and only has a few hours of game play, is going to make much less than a big, replayable, mastery game. And we have some games, broad war games, that someone might play that game an hour and a half for a session whereas if they’re playing a really light game they’re going to play it for five minutes.
Interviewer: And what about multi-player games? Is that even allowed in the service, or how does that work in an online game
Rick: It’s all PC games. So, if their multiplier in the PC queue, and if you want to play Aging Empire, you can play it against your friends who also have Aging Empires over the net.
Interviewer: And so, for developers who are interested, are you focusing on kind of… The names that you bring up are some of the more traditional or bigger box titles. Are you focused on indie or small game developers, or is that something?
Rick: We actually have a large number of indie games. World of You, it’s a great game. We have that. We keep an eye out for games that have done well at some of the competitions or are indie releases because we know they serve a need in our community. So, you might have paid $20 for in on Steam, you’re never going to see it at Wal-Mart. But, when they see it in our catalog, they know there’s one more game for them to play.
And even if it’s a portion of our audience, I need to make sure that for every member of our audience there’s always one more game to play at the end of the month because I win when their subscription is extended to one more month. So, on the 30th I want mom to have one more game to play. I need Junior to have one more game to play.
Even better, I want the person who pays the bill, that pays their cable bill or telephone bill to know that everyone in the family has one more game to play. And every month I want to add to that list so they keep their subscription forever.
Interviewer: And can you talk about the breakdown? Would a developer be more successful if they’ve already done casual games, or are you looking for games for kids? Are you looking for games for teenagers?
Rick: Well, we’re looking for good games. On our service you’re going to make the most money when your game is fun. And you’re not going to get a lot of feature in our programming, putting the game in front of our audience, unless we know that it’s going to delight and entertain them. So, if your game will delight and entertain some portion of our audience, it could be a hard core baseball sim, but someone is going to love that game.
We’ll warn them, you know what, go play backyard baseball, if you want simple. But if you want spread sheet, you’re going to play out of the park ten. So, we can warn our audience, but we prefer mass market titles because we know that’s going to have the biggest impact. Not necessarily girl titles or titles for old ladies, but titles like Jewel Qwest or Zuma, that we know will have broad appeal.
Interviewer: Does the developer then have to modify their game to make it work with your service?
Rick: We do all that. We have a lab with 50 guys in it. And they wrap the game in DRM, and the DRM keeps track of the game play, logs into the subscription, and reports the game play so that we can pay people based on the game play. They send us the bill, and we do all the work to encode it.
Interviewer: And what about flash games and some of this online stuff? So, that would be a different market than what you’re trying to sell?
Rick: Our main line of business which is the PC subscription is just that, PC executable. Flash games are interesting because they’re more portable. Mac users can play them if they work on a Unity browser, and we’re looking for ways to monetize those as well, based on game play.
We think our business model is pretty good, rewarding how fun game is, based on the amount of time played.
Interviewer: And do you have a set payment that you’ll pay out every hour that it’s played. Do you have that published, or does it vary?
Rick: Your minutes of game play are compared to everyone else’s minutes. So, if you have half the minutes of game play in the pool, you’re going to get half the money in the pool. If you only have one minute of game play and there’s millions in the pool, you’re going to make a penny or less.
Interviewer: Where can developers find out more or even submit their game or figure out if their games even match your service?
Rick: So, we have a number of partners already. We have 70 publishing partners. We really encourage you to talk to them because they have an established relationship with us, guys, like IWin, who already give us 20 games a month. They have dedicated marketing slots. They know our lab system. It’s really easy for you to integrate with us by sending them the game.
Interviewer: So, ask your publisher directly if they support this.
Rick: But if you think the game’s really good and you want to get more attention, ping me as well and ask me for an introduction. The more I like the game, the more excited I will be in that introduction. I’ll introduce you, no matter what. But if it’s a hell of a game and I must have it, I’ll make I convey that to whoever your publishing partner is. If it’s Brandon at IWin, I’ll say, “Brandon, I need this game.”
Interviewer: Where’s the website where people can check it out and find out more information?
Rick: No one’s heard of Exent, but we do have a really cool website. It’s www.exent.com to find out more about us, If you want to see what our service looks like in action, you go to VerizonGames.com or FreeRideGames.com to see the ad supported service.
Interviewer: Great. Thank you very much.