Casual games make money. The L.A. Times needs money. So, the L.A. Times is adding casual games to its website. That seems to be the logic at work in a new partnership announced today between the newspaper and casual gaming company Arkadium, which makes Facebook games Mahjongg Dimensions and Solitaire Heaven.
Visitors to latimes.com will be able to play titles like Sparks or Monkey Gems on the site's new games page, which was created in the hopes of funneling ad revenue to the SoCal news outlet. The quotes from today's press release pretty much say exactly that:
"Given the ever-rising popularity of casual games, adding Arkadium's titles allows us to further engage latimes.com's users and entice previously untapped gaming enthusiasts to visit our site throughout the day," said The Times Vice President, Digital Revenue Products Jennifer Collins. "We are also creating a previously unavailable opportunity for our advertisers to reach Southern California's casual gaming audience and in the process establish another digital monetization platform."
The weirdest thing about this move is the "if you build it, they will come" logic that's underlying this initiative. Sure, casual game enthusiasts will play content wherever they find it but there's already a juggernaut called Facebook that also serves the social needs of that audience, too. Not that all casual games need to live on Facebook, but the thinking seems to be that there's teeming masses who want their weather, Hollywood deal updates and word-finding games all in one place. It's also odd that a news outlet would host content from a company that they might cover if they haven't already. It'll be interesting to see how integrated Arkadium's games will become across the rest of the L.A. Times' website.