Alex St. John is never shy about opining on the business of PC games. It's his business, after all. His company, Redmond-based Wild Tangent...

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Alex St. John is never shy about opining on the business of PC games. It’s his business, after all.

His company, Redmond-based Wild Tangent, is a leading publisher of PC games. A lot of people with new PCs end up playing some of those titles shortly after they turn on the machines for the first time and dig in to the games that come with the unit.

Last week, St. John keynoted the ION Game Conference in Seattle and made some interesting points about consoles, including some of his trademark mythbusters.

As our Brier Dudley noted in reporting from the conference, St. John said, among other things, that the high-powered graphics that made consoles special are becoming commodities. Nintendo realized this and decided that the place to differentiate the Wii was with its unique input system.

You can see the trend in arcade games, St. John said, with their exotic input mechanisms that help to differentiate them from the gaming people can do on their PCs at home.

“There may never be another generation of consoles,” he said.

St. John also pooh-poohed the notion that casual games are being played mostly by middle-age women.

Company statistics, he said, suggest that more males than females are playing Wild Tangent games (which fall into the category), and 40 percent of its game sales are to young males.

Spend less time developing puzzle games for soccer moms, he told developers, and more time building classic, 3-D arcade-style games.

St. John also made a pitch for gamers to choose ad-supported games instead of buying them outright.

He said there’s more money to be made with ads on free games that attract an audience 50 to 100 times bigger.

But that doesn’t mean game developers should use in-game ads like billboards, an approach that St. John’s former employer in Redmond — the one with the Xbox — is pursuing.

“Avoid crapping up the interior of your games with in-game advertising,” he said. “This is a myth, it doesn’t work.”

St. John also provided tips on how to make valuable games, which Brier summarized:

• Develop games with high conversion rates and high replay value.

• Young male gamers (console gamers) are the least-served audience, and those games fetch the highest advertising rates.

• Think: How do we maximize the revenue from my game?

• Design games to be consumed in small units of value.

• Ask for ad-revenue sharing from distribution partners.

• Do play a standard video ad during load time.

• Avoid interrupting gameplay with ads.

• Avoid ads in paid gameplay.

Driven to the top

Speaking of games, the whole world knows by now that “Grand Theft Auto IV” has broken all kinds of records.

The Guinness World Records people noted it, too.

“GTA IV,” published by Take-Two Interactive, brought in $310 million in its first 24 hours on the market, making it the biggest entertainment release of all time, Guinness said.

By comparison, the previous fastest-selling video game in 24 hours, “Halo 3,” made $170 million.

The theatrical movie that sold the fastest in 24 hours was “Spider-Man 3,” which brought in $60 million.

The fastest-selling book? “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows,” $220 million.

The Seattle Times technology staff can be reached at 206-464-2265 or