Assume I've made a (hypothetical) online game where you equip two cats that rule small feifdoms, and they fight each other. I haven't done this! It's just an example. But say I did this, and I wanted to put my online game, well, online.
Here's the thing: I have one name, say "Feline Fighters," that works okay. And www.felinefighters.com is an available URL. I book it.
Then I get to thinking: some day I'd like to expand the game out to more than just cats fighting; maybe you can have fighting dogs and hamsters and monkeys. So I need a better, less restrictive name.
And it would be better to start building that name right now, rather than have just Feline Fighters built up and then have to contend with a whole name change.
So after lots of thought, there's only one name that really rings right in my ears: Wild Kingdoms. It's the perfect name! But when I look into wildkingdoms.com, it's been squatted on by somebody that wants $10K for the name. Ditto wildkingdom.com, wild-kingdom.com, wild-kingdoms.com, wildkingdomgame.com, wildkingdomsonline.com, and so on and so on for all the obvious variants.
(again, I stress that this is just an example and I'm not looking for other site names. There may well be real sites and no squatters. This is all hypothetical.)
So the question is: is it better to have a short, memorable but objectively "worse" name that comes with a great URL (felinefighters.com), or a better name, even if that means having a long, clunky or ackward URL (thewildkingdomsgameonline.com)?
Is there a conventional wisdom about whether a great name is "worth" a poor URL, or if a great URL is justified by a suboptimal name?
You could always just link felinefighters.com to monkeymasher.com / hamsterheadbanger.com / caninecruncher.com and just put them all under the umbrella company animalgames.com - besides, wouldn't each site have different sales points / unique messages anyway?
Money is tight for any startup. Paying for a domain name, no matter how perfect it sounds, is a waste of money.
A short, memorable name will be easier for humans to use. A long name loaded with terms related to your game will theoretically give you more SEO juice, but it won't matter if nobody can remember the URL. Frankly there's also something a bit cheesy about most long URLs that consist of nouns stuffed together. People might not be able to identify why, but at least some of them will be put off by it.
I completely concur with @noway - give yourself some time to come up with the ultimate "umbrella" URL, and register the one for the first game immediately. It may be that you'll come up with a far better URL than the one you initially thought was the winner.
I would not certainly go for sth like thewildkingdomsgameonline.com. As you said, it is too long, hard to remember, hard to type, etc.
Also I would not be in a hurry. In most cases, I decide the name while developing the product. Sometimes I register 3-4 domain names during this period, and go with only one of these. I would really wait and spend some more time to find another good, creative name. Sometimes it takes weeks, especially if you are getting older :)
If I were running out of ideas, then I would register felinefighters.com. As jimg says, you can connect all those sites together after all. That's what StackExchange does also.
Go with Feline Fighters. It's perfect! Remember the Super Mario Brothers franchise? The original game started out as a one player game or a two player game, with each player playing the role of one of two plumbers. They grew into games where you could play a multitude of different characters from a mushroom, the princess, a reptilian character, and even evil versions of Mario.
If you're starting out focusing on just cats, why not target your audience with that concept. It's memorable, focuses on the current state of your game, and if your game ever becomes another Angry Birds and you do decide to add more animal characters, the Feline Fighters game will be so baked into your users' hearts and souls that the brand loyalty will far outweight the fact that the game is no longer limited to just cats.
Ideally, our organization strives to find two to three syllable words or words with repetition, like Feline Fighters does with the letter f. Four syllables isn't too bad considering it matches so well.
With that said, the domain name fits your game today, right now, with your current audience, it's affordable, it's short, uses alliteration, and invokes images of two cats battling it out with fencing-style swords. They will become your flagship characters in the game.
I wish you were really building this game; this question has me excited to play it ;)
I have been in the exact same predicament - as I am sure everyone else has at some or the other point.
I would simply go and book felinefighters.com
The rationale being that if your game does pick up and becomes a super hit with 10M users / day, you will have the money to buy any domain and no problem to push your existing users to different websites.
On the other hand, if your game doesn't pick up, it will be a waste of the $ 10K even if you have that kind of money on you to buy a domain.