MTV to pump $500+ million in gaming business

MUMBAI: Viacom’s MTV Networks (MTVN) is planning to invest more than $500 million over the next two years in the development and distribution of its gaming business across its global portfolio.


The company scored high across several of its gaming properties in June and July, as it recorded growth, set traffic records, and showcased new initiatives throughout its diverse portfolio of casual games, games media, and console-based and handheld games.


“Gaming is a focal point of our vertical entertainment strategy to superserve our loyal and passionate audiences with engaging experiences, and the success of all our properties, everything from AddictingGames to the virtual games on Nicktropolis to the award-winning Rock Band, really has put us in a leadership position. As we continue to take our brands narrow and deep to serve our targeted audiences, we are investing over $500 million in the next few years towards building our games business, worldwide, across all of the brands,” said MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath.


MTVN Global Digital Media president Mika Salmi added, “Whether hardcore or casual, online or console-based, we know that games are a dominant activity across all our audiences, so we’re upping our efforts to connect with more gamers in a more engaging way than ever before and provide added value to our marketing partners.”


MTVN has established an expansive global footprint in gaming, driven by research showing that the company’s audiences – from kids to adults – use gaming to connect with others and themselves through play and competition. The company is focused on developing three primary gaming experiences, including online and mobile casual games that appeal to kids, young adults and women; games media and editorial content for the hardcore gamers among its young adult and adult male audiences; and console and handheld games that serve kids, young adults and men.


Across all its game-related websites, MTVN recorded more than 42 million unique visitors globally in June, up 20 per cent in the first six months of 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix. For the month, 47 per cent  of MTVN’s audiences accessed game-related content on one of its online gaming properties. These sites include Nickarcade.com, Neopets, Shockwave and AddictingGames, which draw hundreds of millions of gameplays each month, in addition to casual games sections on CMT.com, COMEDYCENTRAL.com, MTV.com, Nick.com, VH1.com and other MTVN branded sites. MTVN also boasts a multi-dimensional games media network, with acquired properties Xfire and GameTrailers, and content on branded sites including MTV.com and SpikeTV.com.


MTVN also has a strong foothold in console-based and handheld gaming with MTV Games, which creates, markets and publishes interactive products targeting MTV’s audience, and Harmonix, a game developer that provides music fans with a deeper interactive experience through popular music and rhythm titles.


Highlights of MTVN gaming properties in June and July include:


Casual Gaming


As part of MTVN’s overall $500 million investment, last month the MTVN Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group is committing $100 million over the next two years in the development, distribution and creation of casual gaming titles, sites and platforms, further establishing MTVN as a leader in the casual gaming space.


The company’s Kids & Family Group also has announced an agreement with Nokia to deliver Shockwave’s portfolio of Flash Lite mini-games to Nokia customers in multiple markets around the globe.


AddictingGames attracted a record 9.2 million unique visitors domestically for the month, and 14.7 million in total globally, according to comScore.



Games Media


GameTrailers brought in a record 1.4 million unique visitors domestically, and 4.7 million in total globally, according to comScore. The site was propelled by its comprehensive video coverage of E3, with more than 1,000 videos posted during E3 week alone, an exclusive partnership with E3 Insider, as well as an enhanced design and all-new features.


Xfire increased its number of registered users to more than 7.7 million in July, and the site is up +139% in unique users per month over the second quarter of 2006, according to comScore.


Console-Based and Handheld Games


At E3, MTV Games and Harmonix, in partnership with Electronic Arts, premiered the highly anticipated “Rock Band”, winning three Game Critics Awards, including “Best of Show,” and garnering critical acclaim from the video game industry’s top journalists.


Set to hit stores for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PLAYSTATION3 computer entertainment system this holiday, “Rock Band” will feature 40 songs, including Metallica’s incomparable metal song “Enter Sandman.” “Rock Band” users will also be able to access hundreds of tracks via digital distribution, including The Who’s classic “Who’s Next” in its entirety.

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