Verizon's Got Game

8:40 AM -- Verizon has fine tuned its marketing approach to gamers, and the result, while not as hip and cool as hangin' with the PMS Clan, should probably be the envy of the nation's other large telcos.

The company once offered a branded version of the Playlinc gaming server for free, but after Electronic Arts bought Playlinc creator Super Computer International, Verizon opted to cast a wider net and add more value to its bandwidth connections.

Now Verizon offers a Games on Demand service, where users (even if they're not Verizon customers) can pay a flat monthly fee and play hundreds of PC games at a fraction of what it would cost to buy them all at retail.

Jason Henderson, Verizon's gaming guru, says the decision to appeal to casual gamers works well with the "whole house" appeal of Verizon DSL and FiOS. Henderson says the Games on Demand service adds about 15 new titles a week. When we spoke last month, Verizon had just over 930 games in its library.

The way Verizon sees it, console gaming services are great, but the casual gaming market -- especially women, ages 30 to 50 -- is much larger and consists of people who make decisions about spending on communications services and other household purchases.

With the most expensive Games on Demand package being $14.99 a month, Verizon has hit on a way to offer a stream of content via its broadband connections that is addictive, affordable, widely appealing, and doesn't require the carrier to get into the entertainment business by creating or owning original content.

That's exactly the kind of thing that will help telcos stand out from just being providers of commodity connections.

— Phil Harvey, The Editor, Light Reading

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