GOA.com, Europe’s first free gaming portal launches next week. The portal allows users free access to games and generates revenue through charging small amounts for accessories for online alter-egos and avatars.
Gamers will be encouraged to buy clothes, equipment skills and similar accessories for "micro payments".
The portal, which will include community features, launches with two games – Pangya, a fantasy golf game, and Gunbound, a strategy game. A third game, Extreme Soccer, is planned for later this year.
The launch of the GOA.com gaming portal will be backed by a European ad campaign from the beginning of April. The advertising will include television spots on stations including MTV Europe and print advertising in games and youth press.
A digital campaign will run across major search engines and portals including Google and Yahoo!, MSN Games, MSN Messenger and gaming youth-oriented sites, and will all feature banners and viral content.
GOA is the videogames arm of France Telecom’s Content Division and has been running massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORGs) for over seven years.
Its titles include Dark Age of Camelot, the first MMORG in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and the forthcoming Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Online gaming has proved to be very successful in Korea, where this week Electronic Arts announced it had struck two deals to roll out new games in the region.
Games publishers can monetise the games by charging players to gain access, running in-game advertising, or by charging to equip games characters.