Free online golf game
Every golfer dreams of teeing it up at St Andrews or walking up the 18th fairway at the U.S. Open with a one-stroke lead. In the real world, most golfers can’t access the world’s best courses — but thanks to World Golf Tour (WGT), they can play the game they love and explore famous courses in virtual reality through a free online application.
Two gamers and sports fanatics, YuChiang Cheng and Chad Nelson, dreamt up WGT in 2006 over burritos in San Francisco. Since then, their startup has become a top-five golf site with more than 1 million unique visitors each month and 3 million registered users who have played over 100 million rounds of virtual golf.
For Cheng, the CEO of WGT, making the application available at the Chrome Web Store, an online marketplace for web applications, provided an exceptional opportunity for growth—and a new way to acquire highly qualified users.
“We were attracted to the Chrome Web Store because of course there was the potential to reach millions more potential users,” says Cheng. “In addition, we thought our application was a great fit for the Chrome demographic, which appears to include a lot of middle-aged, professional men who happen to love the game of golf.”
Playing the 18th hole at St Andrews on World Golf Tour
WGT decided to make two games available on the Chrome Web Store. One, the WGT Golf Challenge, lets users take 9 great shots at a new course every month. The other, the WGT Golf Game, offers full stroke play on over 10 famous courses.
Adapting the existing web applications to offer these two games at the Chrome Web Store took less than one day. “It was really a straightforward process to create the game packages. We just combined the assets with a URL that changes the featured course each month,” says Cheng. “We’ve actually spent more time on the promotional images and copywriting for each app than we did on development.”
WGT founders Chad Nelson and YuChiang Cheng with PGA pro Ryuji Imada, who practiced on WGT to prepare for the U.S. Open
WGT is currently one of the Top 10 games in the Chrome Web Store, despite competing against much larger brands. The games also continue to receive some of the highest overall user ratings with over 4 out of 5 stars.
In the first two months after the launch, more than 50,000 unique visitors used the WGT applications, and more than 25% have registered accounts on WGT. Chrome users play 23% more than those from other WGT advertising sources, and are buying virtual goods on WGT at a exceptionally high rate of 147% more than average.
“We’ve been exceptionally pleased with the response to the game,” says Cheng. “It’s not just that people are using the app—it’s that the Chrome audience appears to be highly qualified and engaged. The results have far exceeded our expectations.”
The future looks bright for WGT, as the company expands their sports games, including new applications for the upcoming Virtual U.S. Open and British Opens that WGT hosts in the summer.
Soon, Google Single Sign-On will allow WGT customers to register for the application in a single click. Google Checkout will make it faster and easier to process payments. And Google In-App Payments and Social Gold will enable in-game micro transactions to take place quickly and seamlessly.
“Developing the initial app for Chrome and making updates has been remarkably easy—and free,” says Cheng. “We’re really excited to keep building on what we’ve started.”