Fun and games fuel fight for online dollar
Fox, MasterCard among firms touting 'interactive extras'
shall return." -- Gen. Douglas MacArthur
apologies to the general, those may be the three most important
words in the world of commerce. Little wonder then that Web-based
businesses are scrambling these days: The race is on to capture
the fancy of the surfing consumer.
companies are looking for now are interactive extras - games
and features to keep people coming back," says Jack D. Smith,
who founded PeopleSpace Inc. to help online businesses stand
out in an increasingly saturated marketplace. "Our niche is
community development and retention through entertainment."
based in technology-minded Charlottesville, Va., has been lending
its creative expertise to the Web sites of some high-profile
clients, including Sesame Street, Fox Sports, MasterCard, Service
Merchandise and iVillage.
concept behind PeopleSpace is 'people plus games equals community,'"
says Smith, borrowing from his company's motto.
creates trivia games and custom "gamelets," which Smith describes
as "single-player action games with a small download," tailored
to a company's product line and Web site. There also are multiplayer
gamelets, which tend to create what Smith repeatedly emphasizes:
of course, implies a gathering of people with a common interest
or interests. The challenge for online businesses is to create
that sense of community around their Web sites.
top-notch interactive community features and services is a key
element in growing a successful business on the Web," says Tony
Morelli of iVillage. "PeopleSpace is a long-time partner of
iVillage. They have tailored their products to fit the integrity
of our community and targeted interests of our membership. Our
Baby Name Finder (developed by PeopleSpace) is a favorite among
members of our parenting communities."
it is, many companies spend $100 to $150 - and, sometimes, considerably
more - to draw a single person to their Web site. PeopleSpace
aims to cut that cost dramatically by helping to bring first-time
visitors back again. And again, and again …
know we're not the only game in town," says Rich Libero of Fox
Sports. "Everybody in sports media has their own Web site where
you can get scores and highlights, features, and what have you.
To build a following, you've got to offer something more, something
interactive to get folks involved with your site. That's the
sort of thing we had with the hockey game PeopleSpace did for
us. It was a cool little hook for our Web site."
what we're about," says Smith. "If your product is sports, we'll
make you a sports-related gamelet. If you make bug killers,
we'll do a gamelet where you've got to zap the spiders with
a spray can before they bite you. If your product is soft drinks,
maybe we've got your bottle zapping heat demons, and every time
you're hit, the level in your bottle drops. The point is, it
hardly matters what your product or service is."
knows both the market and the technology. He also is founder
and president of Chaos NewMedia Ltd., and has served in management
positions with Kesmai Corporation (whose Web operation was launched
by Smith) and GEnie, the former online service of General Electric.
The common threads are technology and fun. Smith has married
the two, and the result is PeopleSpace.
have the tools and the creative talent to bring fun to your
Web site," Smith says. "And, of course, where fun goes, people
-- 11/10/98 --