Lately, all the buzz has been around social media.
Facebook and Twitter can work well for some companies, but all the hype is overshadowing the fact that social media should be part of a larger digital marketing strategy. Including a fun, well designed online game in that strategy is often overlooked by companies, yet it provides an excellent opportunity to interact with consumers and highlight products. You’re probably thinking, "Oh well you only care about games because you’re a 20-something guy who’s never grown up and would play any game just because it exists." Well, you might be right but there’s some pretty solid data to show otherwise. Casual, online games generate about $2.25 billion a year with an average growth rate of 20%. The ratio of male and female players are about 50/50, and a whopping 74% of people actually paying to play the games are women. Who says playing video games is only for smelly boys in their mom’s basement anymore? Apparently times have changed.
So, how can you use online games to increase your web traffic and get consumers interested in your product? It’s possible to license pre-made games for users to play on your site, and although that may get a few users to come back and play or spend a little more time on your site, that isn't really going to get them interested in your brand. The best thing to do is have a custom game made that can highlight your product or service. It needs to be fun to play without overdoing the sales pitch. One game that does a good job of this is Chargy Bargy. It promotes O2’s phone service and is branded in a way that lets you know it, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with what they’re selling. Several people forwarded that game to me and we don’t even have O2 service in the US. That just shows how a decent game can go viral and reach more people than expected. Regardless of the number of people who play the game more than once, O2 is getting its name and service out there in front of tons of people.
There’s a reason why big brands like Mountain Dew and Red Bull are including branded games on their websites. It’s because they know times have changed and the people who are spending money on their products are the ones who grew up with Super Mario and Sonic.