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Noize Play Goes for Advertainment

Web content isn't totally dead; just ask Noize Play (www.noizeplay.com). The upstart San Francisco-based company officially launched last week and unveiled its newest series "DJ Fu - Wax Attack 2" on Shockwave and AtomFilms.com.

Noize Play was founded by CEO Chad Richard, formerly an executive producer with Shockwave.com. But after Shockwave announced layoffs early last year and said it would stop acquiring new content, Richard decided to venture out with some other laid off Shockwave employees and start Noize Play as an "interactive music entertainment company." Essentially, Noize Play is building on its success with DJ Fu, a game featuring an animated skateboarder, which the company co-owns with Shockwave. According to Richard, the original DJ Fu had 5 million game plays.

On Friday, Noize Play announced the release of "DJ Fu: Wax Attack 2," the second installment of the game at Shockwave.com. Another version of the game is available on the game's sponsor site, Ford Focus (www.focus247.com). "DJ Fu: Wax Attack" has proven to be a perfect branding platform for the Ford Focus campaign due to its huge popularity with the casual gaming audience. DJ Fu integrates many defining aspects of youth culture: mixing music, skateboarding and Kung Fu and as a result has appealed to both a male and female audience. In fact, there is a new female protagonist, DJ Zee, in Wax Attack 2."

Richard said that DJ Fu essentially acts as a branding vehicle or "advertainment" for sponsors. As players play the game, non-clickable Ford Focus billboards appear, and Ford Focus cars drive by. Richard reminds us that the game works best for branding, so click-throughs to the Ford Focus Web site, isn't the main goal. "We found that having it clickable ruined the entertainment because some people might click on the ad by accident," he said.

So how do Noize Play and Ford measure success? Richard said that the Ford Focus site does get an increase in traffic, and is "happy" with the amount of exposure it's gotten so far on Shockwave.com. He also said that Ford "keeps coming back" and renewing its sponsorship contract.

Perhaps more importantly, Richard said that Noize Play could insert a new sponsor at any time, so the game doesn't have to be rebuilt or re-animated from scratch. Richard said he's fusing together content, sponsors and a destination site into one business model. Aside from sponsorships, other sources of revenue for Noize Play include licensing its games and characters to offline markets like TV networks, comic books and computer games, or even things like T-shirts and other clothing.

Still, the game isn't mass market; it's strictly targeted to the young 14-to 30-year old crowd that either loves to mimic a DJ or that loves skateboarding. The game was built using Shockwave, and also uses some Beatnik sound sequences.

DJ Fu is just one of Noize Play's products. Noize Play's other product is Groove Blender, which launched at Shockwave.com on October 30, and lets users create their own electronica songs through a drag and drop interface. Richard also showed off an online DJ software program that mixes MP3s, and a musical digital album for adding music to pictures to create slideshows.

Even in this harsh environment for content, Richard said his company (with seven full-time employees) is self-funded and isn't looking for additional money. Perhaps most surprisingly, Richard said that Noize Play accomplished what so many companies have failed to do: be profitable.

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