A look at unexpected ways for interactive marketers to make a play in digital video games.
This week, I continue my look at the top 10 gaming trends that marketers should be following in the coming year. You will find five trends below, while the other five can be found here.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of all opportunities, but it will give brands a good idea of upcoming trends that can be leveraged to reach their consumers.
Games Aren't Always About Winning and Losing
As gaming evolves, game developers are pushing the definition of what can be considered a game. Games no longer require endless levels of point-chasing, zombie killing, and competitive challenges. Games such as "LittleBigPlanet," "Spore," and "Wii Music" have proven that consumers want game experiences not solely focused on winning and losing. The trend has helped to increase the potential audience for games outside of gaming's sweet spot (males 18 to 34). In addition to reaching larger audiences, the potential for branded integrations and partnerships becomes more likely as game experiences expand beyond traditional competitive settings. For example, gamers in "Spore" have spent hours creating real-world products without the help of brands. Imagine what type of creations would be possible if brands offered their assets.
Gaming on the Go
As a kid, I used to spend many classes and other time away from home counting down the minutes until I'd be back in front of my television playing games. (Don't tell my parents.) Luckily for today's gamer, we aren't constrained to living room walls. Portable gaming devices and mobile phones enable consumers to game wherever and whenever. Major franchises, such as Guitar Hero, have begun to release across smart phones in addition to gaming consoles. Portable gaming devices are beginning to look just like other portable electronics with increased feature sets (e.g., the upcoming DSi from Nintendo features dual cameras). The ability to game on the go will only lead to more time spent with games and, if you are lucky, more engagement with branded programs.
Used Games Are the New Black
As consumers tighten their financial belts during this economic downturn, even video-game retailers are seeing their sales slow. One retailer continues to post profits despite only selling video games: GameSpot has succeeded in the recession due to its focus on used games. Gamers can exchange their games for credits that can be applied to new video games. Game publishers aren't too thrilled with this model because it cuts into their profits, but it's hard to argue with results. Even Amazon.com, Best Buy, and Toys "R" Us have decided to test out the used game market. Used games allow consumers to enjoy one of their favorite forms of entertainment at a reduced cost. In addition, it increases the number of people exposed to the games. Increased exposure is definitely a good thing for any marketer running a gaming program in these titles.
Gaming Help, If You Need It
While all games feature an Entertainment Software Rating Board rating, many consumers still struggle to determine what games are appropriate for them or, more importantly, their children. With thousands of games released each year, the average gamer has a tough time keeping up with the latest -- never mind the newcomer. However, there are a number of sources available that will help erase the confusion. What They Play, for example, guides families to the right type of video games. Brands looking to reach moms with coveted content should consider these partners, given the target audiences' lack of knowledge in video game choices. By providing this much needed help, brands will improve the likelihood of consumers considering the brand trusted and valuable.
Any Game With "Lego" in Its Title Sells
Titles associated with Lego have done extremely well over the past years. And the success may not be limited to Lego. Brands with recognizable assets or affiliations should explore opportunities to tie their properties to game play. Not every marketer has a following like Lego, but those with extreme fans can leverage their dedicated following in the game space. Burger King accomplished this with its "King" character in a custom Xbox game a few years ago, resulting in a significant sales lift. There is not only a marketing opportunity but also potentially revenue from this type of arrangement.
Most likely, every one of these 10 trends won't be relevant to every marketer. But hopefully some will encourage marketers to consider how they leverage video games as a platform. As we're forced to make tough decisions on how to effectively reach consumers, these opportunities can help engage consumers in new ways.
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Matt Story is director of Play, a division of Denuo. He oversees the West Coast operation, maintaining key publishing and gaming industry contacts for the agency. With expertise and perspective from both the client and the agency side, he brings to bear dual strengths: interactive and videogame advertising and how they can transcend and evolve a client brand.
Matt and his team develop unique gaming integration programs on behalf of General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Miller, and others. In March 2007, he played an integral role in the 2007 Pontiac Virtual NCAA Final 4 tournament, powered by videogame "College Hoops 2K7."
Before joining Play, Matt was interactive marketing manager across P&G's antiperspirants/deodorants category. During his four-year tenure, he managed the creation of the first P&G blog, which supported the launch of Secret Sparkle Body Spray. He also led innovative development with the Old Spice brand's in-game integrations in multiple key videogame titles. To hear more from Matt and the various creative minds at Denuo, visit Denuology for their unfiltered perspective on the world at large.
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