CNN isn’t the first place you think of when looking for a popular browser-based game, yet a new set of game links has invaded the cnn.com index page. CNN has joined the ranks of many popular websites and now offers free, time-consuming and mind-absorbing browser-based games. CNN has dedicated an entire page for its readers to take breaks from reading the news and immerse themselves in titles like Mahjong Dimensions, Monkey Gem, and Pegland. Like Facebook and Google (Google+), players can register, record their scores, and participate in a gaming community. Will this be a successful move for cnn.com? Is this a good use of bandwidth for the news giant?
A large part of the cyber world has always revolved around free play. Even before browsers appeared, Dungeons and Dragons fans controlled telnet realms and played games together via text messages. With each new plugin (such as Flash, Java, etc.), website developers and creators have found ways to outperform the latest generation of games; a good example is the popular Google Pacman which wasted many hours of work. It was created with the latest HTML and brought to the world a higher quality web version of the game with reduced download time.
Until recently, games were contained in their own sector of the web, and giant game publishing sites like pogo, miniclip, and addictive games grew in popularity. The larger, non-gaming sites took notice, and as technology increased and it became easier to create multiplayer communities, they began publishing games as well. It was not very difficult for Facebook to publish games. Will it work for CNN?
How does adding a game page to cnn.com affect CNN’s overall brand? In the past, sites like cnn.com have used video games as tools designed to communicate marketing messages to their audiences. For example, CNN has used news questionnaires on its site to evaluate readers on the information they can get from its articles. This use of a game reinforces the existing product and enhances the overall user experience. With the addition of the new games page, how will a quick game of Mahjong help you understand the results of the Iowa assemblies?
The decision to put games on a news site may just be part of a larger media strategy. CNN is owned by Turner Broadcasting, which is owned by Time Warner. Ultimately, all the websites run by these empires serve as marketing channels. Implementing diversified entertainment on websites is likely part of a broader strategy to keep users browsing through the Time Warner and its partners’ website network.
Game publishing sites have always been easy to get started because developers are eager to get their products out there on the World Wide Web. In addition to the big media companies, independent webmasters from all over the web have started their own sites, compiling their own collections of browser-based games. CNN’s games page can be accessed by clicking here.