Hint? It’s something that Target and McDonald’s have in common
Mobile games are expected to gross between US$20-30 billion by year’s end. If that figure didn’t catch your attention, how about this one: Mobile minutes now make up just under half (47 per cent) of all our screen time. If you have a business you need to promote, these figures probably caught your attention, and rightfully so.
One big way to do so is through branded mobile games. It might just be the boost your company needs — provided you play your cards right.
The concept of a branded game is nothing new. It’s been around for a while now, whether in board games, computer games or online games, marketers have realised the compelling influence a game has on gamers, and the fertile ground it provides for a brand to gain exposure. To stress that point a bit further, games provide marketers with the best form of promotion out there – marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing.
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A branded game will bring the client to you, again and again. Each time a player enters your game, you have them hooked for the duration of the game’s session and during that time (which can range anywhere from seconds to minutes, possibly hours) their exposure to your message is a given. Take Chipotle, with what might be the most successful branded mobile game of the past several years as an example. Within the first month of its release, Chipotle’s Scarecrow game ignited 18.4 million conversations on 17 different social networks. That’s more than 18 million people discussing their brand and message. It was also the number one adventure game on the App Store with 650,000 downloads. Chipotle’s brand and message gained the exposure marketers dream of thanks to a simple, fun mobile game (and clever planning, which I’m getting at next).
While it may be tempting to run out there and create a branded mobile game, don’t do so for the sheer sake of advertisement or marketing. A mobile game needs to support your brand’s vision, your message to your clients or otherwise support an existing campaign. Raising awareness towards your brand via branded games is a great technique, but it only works if the game itself makes sense.
A good game has a logical purpose and context behind it. Invest the time to define the logic behind the game.
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Second, know your audience. As Or Perets, the head of gaming studio Spartonix, explains, “The games I developed succeeded because they provided the gamers with an experience they longed for and this stood out … other games mostly focussed on an experience that sells.” People turn to mobile games for various reasons but they all share the same desired outcome — they want to enjoy themselves. Game development is a craft that requires comprehensive research. Who is your target audience? Why would they want to play your game?
Remember the marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing bit? Make a game with your target audience’s needs and expectations in mind and make sure your brand and/or message are always there, but aren’t the main objective of the game.
McDonald’s game is a great example where a huge corporation did its research and leveraged their brand above others thanks to a branded mobile game tailored to the needs of their clients — or more precisely, children.
McDonald’s turned their branches’ tables into an interactive tool where a kid could place a mobile phone above the table and a game would immediately spring to life, encouraging the kid to play. The game is only available at McDonald’s, so if you want to play, you have to keep coming back to McDonald’s.
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Target did something rather creative: They created a mobile game where their clients could create their own Christmas shopping list. The benefits were almost immediate: 75,000 people downloaded their game, 9,200 new membership cards were issued, and profits from the in-app purchases stood at US$92.3 million.
When it comes to making your mobile branded game, make sure you give your end clients true value and a positive experience. It’s really the only way to ensure a successful mobile game, one that generates true profit for both the brand and its clients.
The author Gaston Rendelstein is Head of business development at the Round Robin Group.
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