Holiday Game Guide for Marketers

It’s that time of year when I become inundated with phone calls, e-mails, letters, text messages, tweets, and any other form of communication you can think of, all asking the same question: what video game should I buy this holiday season? Depending on how early in the morning it is, I either instantly go into my rant on the latest game I’ve been playing, such as “Gears of War 2,” “Mirror’s Edge,” or “James Bond: Quantum of Solace” or send them a link to the latest Web site holiday game guide list. After answering the last request for holiday gaming goodness from a friend, I thought it might be helpful to provide recommendations for marketers looking to update their gaming prowess before going into the New Year.

However, before I get started, a couple disclaimers:

  • The list is intended for those looking to get some hands-on experience with games that highlight potential industry opportunities for marketers.
  • The games included aren’t intended to be best sellers or most-talked-about titles of the holiday season.

Onto the goodness, in alphabetical order:

  • “Left 4 Dead” (Xbox 360). With this title, you are thrown directly into a zombie apocalypse with three others who must survive. If that doesn’t sound inviting, the multiplayer features alone are reason to pick it up. The game was made from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. Working with other human teammates (in real life and in the game), you will no doubt find multiple ways to survive in the game’s various campaign options, adding to the game’s replay ability. Other games will no doubt attempt to recreate this unique multiplayer experience in the hopes that gamers won’t be able to put the controller down or, worse yet, switch to another game. Marketers should look to leverage the opportunity when friends gather online to engage them in a relevant conversation or valuable content exchange.
  • “LittleBigPlanet” (Playstation 3). Many articles have been written about Sony’s new franchise (including my past column), but I can’t stress how important this title is to the future of games. If you’re lucky enough to find this under your tree, you’ll not only be receiving a game but also a game development tool box. We’ve already seen gamers’ imagination come to life through custom levels, which has lead to copyright issues in some cases. Now imagine if a handful of brands leaned forward and allowed the use of their trademarks or brand assets in LBP. With that said, games will continue to offer deeper levels of customization, and marketers have the opportunity to integrate their brands into the overall experience.
  • “What’s Cooking?” with Jamie Oliver (Nintendo DS). Atari’s recently released title continues the trend of games that don’t look like games. This title is more closely related to a cookbook or grocery list than to “Super Mario Bros.” Gamers are given access to recipes directly from Oliver, then taken step by step through the process of making virtual meals if they pick up the ingredients found on their DS or real meals. While there are mini games for those who must have competition, the other features serve as a tool for cooking. Integration of real-life products for cooking, or other tasks as those games are released, seems to be low-hanging fruit for endemic brands and products.
  • “Wii Fit” (Wii). This title is one of the most anticipated games on the most coveted console this holiday season. The game extends the Wii’s active gaming positioning through the Wii Balance Board, which turns normal living rooms into fitness facilities. The game doesn’t promise to replace normal physical activities, but it does provide an ongoing gauge of your physical wellbeing. The board also dispels the myth that you have to game with a controller at all times. As game developers master the new peripheral, a larger number of titles will require you to get up off that couch. With that increase in games, programs that effectively leverage the unique game play will become available to marketers.

If you’re looking to utilize this holiday season to get the latest games, be sure to take down a few notes from this guide before braving the busy shopping locations.

Happy holidays!

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