USA Network today announced the next generation of its proprietary casual gaming portal, CHARACTER ARCADE (www.characterarcade.com), along with several key strategic partnerships with developers and publishers. New partners, including NeoEdge and Bigpoint, will provide an expanded gaming catalog that will nearly double USA's game roster by the end of 2009, and Bunchball will drive a unique rewards and points platform connected to major social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. USA Network's gaming portal will offer fans a destination that goes beyond game-play, including access to gamer portfolio tools, social networking, an affinity program, industry news, chat/blog forums and new gaming options, including PC, downloadable and MMO titles. The announcement was made today by Alexandra Shapiro, senior vice president, brand marketing and digital, USA Network.
"USA Network made its first foray into the casual gaming sector last year. Now, to expand our offerings and scale at a competitive rate, we've decided to open up the platform and begin working with third-party developers and publishers," said Shapiro. "Ultimately, by working with partners such as NeoEdge, Bigpoint and Bunchball we are providing our fans with a more fulfilling gaming experience, new functionality, rewards and one of the industry's first comprehensive social gaming communities."
With NeoEdge, USA is engaging in a reciprocal partnership enabling USA to both license games from NeoEdge's robust catalog of casual, downloadable PC games, as well as distribute USA's Character Arcade games via NeoEdge's vast distribution channels. NeoEdge's games come with a built in ad-services technology for increased functionality (dynamic ad targeting and video ads) and revenue generating potential. These new games will add breadth and depth to Character Arcade and complement USA's recent alliance with Bigpoint, a German based company, that provides USA fans with a series of MMO gaming titles, which include a micro-transaction offering.
USA for the first time has also created a real social media environment for its gaming portal through its partnership with Bunchball, a leading technology company that helps organizations drive consumer engagement. Bunchball's SocialLink technology – in conjunction with the newly added Facebook Connect technology – allows fans unparalleled sharing, challenging, and chatting capabilities. Fans also now have the ability to amass rewards for virtual goods, no matter where they're playing USA games, including Facebook.
"The casual games industry has been growing beyond anyone's expectations," said Jessica Tams, managing director, Casual Games Association. "Respected companies entering the space, like USA Network, offer proof that offerings will continue to provide fans and current casual gamers a new way to experience the environment and online challenges they love."