CNN is not the first place that comes to mind when searching for a popular browser-based game, but a new cluster of game links has infiltrated the CNN.com index page. CNN is now offering free, time-consuming, mind-absorbing browser-based games, joining the ranks of numerous popular mainstream websites. CNN has devoted an entire page to allowing its readers to take a break from reading the news and enjoy titles such as Mahjong Dimensions, Monkey Gem, and Pegland. Similar to Facebook and Google (Google +), players can register, keep track of their scores, and participate in a community of gamers. Will this be an effective strategy for CNN.com? Is this an efficient use of bandwidth for the news corporation?
A significant portion of cyberspace has always revolved around free game play. Prior to the invention of browsers, Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts roamed the telnet realms and played via text. With each new plug-in (such as Flash, Java, etc.), developers and web site designers have found ways to surpass the previous generation of games; a prime example is the immensely popular Google Pac-Man, which consumed countless work hours. It was developed using the most up-to-date HTML and brought the world a web version of the game of higher quality and with a shorter download time.
Until recently, games were confined to their own section of the Internet, and the popularity of giant game publishing sites such as pogo, miniclip, and addictinggames soared. Larger, non-game sites took notice, and as technology advanced and it became simpler to create multi-player communities, they began publishing games as well. It was not unreasonable for Facebook to publish games. Will it benefit CNN?
How does the addition of a games page to CNN’s website impact its overall brand? In the past, websites such as cnn.com have utilized video games to convey marketing messages to their audiences. CNN, for instance, has utilized news quizzes on its website to assess readers’ comprehension of the information contained in their articles. This application of a game enhances the existing product and the overall user experience. With the addition of the new games page, how will a quick game of Mahjong aid in the comprehension of the Iowa caucus results?
The placement of games on a news website may be part of a larger media strategy. Turner Broadcasting, which is owned by Time Warner, owns CNN. In the end, all of these empires’ websites serve as marketing channels. The implementation of diverse website entertainment is likely part of a larger strategy to keep users browsing the Time Warner network and its partners’ websites.
Developers have always been eager to disseminate their products on the Internet, so game publishing websites have always been easy to launch. In addition to large media corporations, webmasters from all over the world have launched their own sites, compiling their own collections of browser-based games.