It's Zango Time!

By: Chella Ramanan

EGN – Zango Games interview

While at EGN, I had the good fortune to run into Zango Games, a company that wants to make games more popular by extending their lifecycle. It will take a strong community to make things work, but Zango seems to have all their ducks in a row.

Chella caught up with Charles Balas, director of business development for Zango Games. With so many comparisons being made between the movie industry and the games industry, Zango Games is looking to films for revenue inspiration.

GiN: What is Zango Games?

Balas:The best analogy is; Zango is to games what television is to movies. In other words, we provide an advertising platform, connecting users, publishers and developers through high quality content.

How does it work?

Balas: Zango provides games free to users in exchange for showing them targeted advertising. Commercial television has long provided a good source of revenue for movies once they are no longer in the theatres and there is no reason why this can't work for games too.

GiN:That sounds like spy ware under a new guise. You get to know the user's every move, but what do they get out of it?

The difference with Zango is that it is opt in and completely transparent, explaining the process to users. On average, users will only received two to three websites a day, based on their activity. We don't collect personal information, but Zango does collect information on the websites visited in order to show targeted competitor websites.

Balas:But the main benefit for users is that they will gain free access to high quality games. However, it's easy to uninstall at any time, if they have a problem or stop playing.

GiN:What sort of games does Zango provide?

Balas:At the moment we have a number of Java and Flash games available online. But we aim to create partnerships with big name publishers, allowing us to bring gamers access to evergreen content, including highly recognisable title – completely free.

We are also in the process of building our own studios so we can create games in-house through Zango's own development teams. Zombie, one of the oldest independent developers in the US, is working with us to develop a suite of online games for Zango. They have developed games for leading publishers, including Activision, Ubisoft and Take 2, across all formats. With support like this, we will be able to bring a host of quality titles to gamers, completely free.

GiN: Are you aiming primarily at casual gamers, or will there be something to pique the interest of hardcore gamers too?

Balas: A lot of the games we provide at the moment will mainly appeal to the casual gamer, but as the business grows, we will be able to cater for all kinds of gamers.

We are particularly keen to create a place for people playing MMORPGs. For instance, a first party publisher may decide to stop supporting an online game, leaving a gaming community with nowhere to go and play their game. Zango hopes to remedy this by providing a home for these games and the people who play them – it will be like an MMORPG graveyard.

GiN: Will Zango benefit the industry, or will it just damage its reputation by getting users to accept advertising before giving them access to games? People are already wary of spy ware, can you overcome this?

Balas:It comes back to the television model, which is used very successfully for movies. At the moment, games have a very short life-span before they are resigned to the bargain bin. Zango can provide a new lease of life to games that may otherwise gather dust in warehouses. It gives publishers and developers a chance to reach a new audience at no extra cost. We are also keen to work with small developers, helping them get their games seen and played, cultivating creative talent and getting more original ideas out there.

People have become wary of spy ware, but Zango Games is bringing users the benefits of free access to great games. The fact that there is only limited advertising and it is highly targeted is a small exchange for the range of games we are going to be supplying in the future.

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