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Think Big. Move Fast.

The NY Times has a story on Nickelodeon planing to spend $100m on 600 exclusive casual web games over the next two years. They certainly have a huge audience of people playing casual games across a network of sites:

With a series of customized sites for different age groups (preschoolers, tweens, teenage boys, moms), Nickelodeon calls itself the “biggest gaming network in the country.” Movie studios, video game publishers, and toy makers are among the top marketers on the sites. In the online games market, its stiffest competition comes from Yahoo Games, which had 15.5 million unique visitors in February according to the measurement firm comScore…

The N, Nickelodeon’s teenage network, has dozens of games for children aged 12 to 17. Slightly younger players are directed to Nick.com, which drew an average of 2.1 million visitors in February and is expected to add 185 games this year. The youngest players of all are welcome on the sites of Nick Jr. and Noggin, where games are meant to be played by children “on the laps of their moms,” Ms. Zarghami said.

The company also owns Neopets, a virtual pet Web site. The investment will add scores of new games to each site in the coming year…

MTV Networks acquired three sites to strengthen its gaming brand in 2005 and 2006. Of the three, Addicting Games is by far the most popular, averaging 9.4 million unique visitors in February, a 50 percent increase over the same month last year, according to comScore.

paidContent.org has more details:

Among the initiatives included in the investment :

— the launch, planned for September, of ad-free subscription service myNoggin, being offered with cable companies Charter, Cox and Insight and through direct subscription online.

— The transition of Neopets to NeoStudios, which will focus on creating new virtual worlds and further developing existing ones. The first new launch is slated for the end of 2008 with “a goal” of launching a new one every other year.

— The branding of Shockwave as “the” games destination for families. Somehow that includes new opportunities for “prominent integrated advertising.”

— AddictingGames is getting into the casual MMOG business with AddictingWorlds.

— The planned early 2008 launch of The-Ngames.com, dubbed “the first major casual gaming site to focus solely on teen girls.”

— A subscription product for Nickelodeon called the Nick Gaming Club, “a safe gaming environment.”

— 3D Slimeball. Now there’s the Nick we all know and love. Actually, it’s one of the multiplayer games for Nick.com. Nictropolis also gets multiplayer games.

The idea seems to be grab them as young as possible and keep them moving to various age-appropriate options.

From the sounds of the article, Nickelodeon primarily plans to primarily monetize through both subscription and advertising. Given their existing advertiser relationships and their huge reach, they should be able to help establish some standard advertising units in the casual games industry. That will be great for the industry. New forms of advertising are hard, and standard ad units lift all boats.