May 31, 2011, 12:57 PM

HSN aims to entice shoppers to play along

The web and TV retailer is adding video games to its web site.

Lead Photo

An HSN Arcade screenshot

TV and web retailer HSN plans to launch HSN Arcade tonight at midnight in a bid to entice shoppers to spend more time on HSN.com. HSN Arcade will feature 25 videogames that consumers can play for free while they watch a live stream of HSN’s television channel.

When a consumer plays a game in HSN Arcade, the game will take up about two-thirds of the screen. The retailer will give over the rest the screen to the live stream, along with links to the best-selling items on HSN.com and the most recent products that appeared on the air.

HSN Arcade will integrate with Facebook to allow shoppers to share their game scores, as well as products and other retailer-specific information on the social network.

More than 140 million consumers play so-called casual games, such as Sudoku, Mahjongg and crossword puzzles, according to a recent survey from marketing research firm Newzoo. By combining shopping, social networking and gaming, HSN hopes to position itself as a primary online destination, says Jill Braff, the retailer’s executive vice president of digital commerce.

“As a company we want to make it possible for consumers to have HSN everywhere they are and we want to encourage them to take us with them by marrying content and community with commerce—not just in TV but in the digital space,” she says. “This is very much in line with those goals.”

While other sites like Big Fish Games Inc. have game portals, HSN is the only site that marries content and commerce in this manner, she says.

“We know that there are other arcade portals on the web that drive huge audiences of women,” she says. “But the difference with HSN Arcade is that our portal is tied to shopping. Women are already coming to our site and sharing via reviews and comments. We’re giving them another reason to interact with us and each other on the site.”

Two of the 25 games have direct tie-ins to HSN. For instance, Today’s Special Puzzle is a jigsaw puzzle that features an item HSN will sell for 24 hours. A new puzzle will go up online every night at midnight, when that day's item first appears on air. The consumer who completes the puzzle most quickly will be eligible to receive prizes, including the item itself or a gift card. The retailer says it plans to add more games with direct tie-ins to the network.

HSN says that it offer tournaments that enable consumers to compete against celebrities and HSN hosts to win such prizes as gift cards and products. The retailer will reveal the winners on TV, online and through its mobile apps.

HSN worked with online game provider Arkadium to launch HSN Arcade.

HSN declined to disclose the cost of the effort, which it said took about six months to develop. HSN is No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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