What Makes A Successful Casual Game? Part 2
Marketing takes over where game development ends. The process begins by setting realistic goals. Don’t expect a game to take off and go viral just because it features a big, well-known brand.
Brand recognition is helpful, but the app still has to pass a tipping point and the word has to travel a long way for this to happen.
The following are a few suggestions:
• Use cross promotion whenever possible. Incorporate the game into your other marketing activities. For example, it can be a special offer, a sub-message, or impetus for a contest. Even a banner can bring in fresh players.
• Localize it. If you’re a big global brand, an HTML5 game on the web provides ample outlets for international distribution. Most casual games don’t have a lot of language to translate, either.
• Use your own social media outlets. Get the chatter out there — take advantage of the fans.
• Attach it to your products. Hang tag? Sticker burst? Box insert? TV ad? Spread the message to the people who already purchase your product(s) and/or the potential consumers.
Here are a couple brief examples that show how games increased a brand’s visibility:
Marketing Case Study 1: My Little Pony/Friendship is Magic
Splashworks created a game for Hasbro’s My Little Pony/Friendship is Magic brand at Comic-Con. The objective was to engage the brand’s fans in a special game release.
The promotion included a pancake breakfast giveaway to VIP visitors at the MLP/FIM booth—only 500 codes were given away. The promo code for the game was printed on the coupon for the pancakes.
Within two hours of the initial launch at Comic-Con, the game’s promo code was uploaded to the fan page, Equestriadaily.com. On the first day, the game was played over 40,000 times and by the end of the first week, it was played over 120,000 times.
After the initial Comic-Con promotion, the game was launched without the code on The Hub’s website, where it received over 7 million plays. A “lite” version of the game was created for Facebook — this game drove traffic to the full version on the site.
Marketing Case Study2: Puzzle Social*
PuzzleSocial, a game development studio based in NYC, leveraged mobile web to drive high-quality installs for their game called Daily Celebrity Crossword, which is available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.
They built a lite version of the game on HTML5 and distributed it via mobile web. In 4 months, this resulted into 320,000 unique game plays and—which is more important—10% of those players proceeded to download the native mobile app.
Roughly, this new marketing model is as follows:
• An HTML5-based “lite” version of a game provides limited game play with a few levels available for free;
• Users discover the lite game version via one of the mobile web distribution networks and can start playing it right from a mobile web browser without needing to install an app;
• If they like the game, they can download the full game version from an app store (a link is shown to them at Game Over)
• A distribution network charges the game developer only when a user downloads a native app.
(*Source: Gamasutra blog 12/14)
Are Games A Service?
Some publishers are now viewing games as “services” instead of products. That’s because they are malleable, able to grow modularly with new features, new skins, and additional paths to monetization. They are organic entities with root systems in social media and even real-world events that booster their in-game content and their fan culture.
This goes for casual games as well as larger, RPO multiplayer experiences. Just look at the Candy Crush Saga model and its spin-offs.
In 2014, Electronic Art’s Madden NFL Mobile went from premium paid download to free-to-play, increasing user engagement—and revenue—through live services that evolve over time. Over the last year, players have downloaded EA Mobile sports games more than 100 million times. Madden NFL Mobile reached No. 4 on the highest-grossing apps chart in iTunes during the 2014 holiday season.
EA claims its success is due to offering up fresh content on a regular basis, especially during football season. They know how their fans consume football content and they serve it up every week, including scheduled events for halftime during games.
But in order to keep engagement, they also offer content in the off-season when football is off TV.
According to VentureBeat’s article*, Madden NFL Mobile is the last Madden game that EA will ever release. There won’t be traditional “versions;” rather, it will be a living, evolving, experience—a service instead of a game.
This requires a dedicated team and regular updates, a luxury that a big company like EA can provide/afford. So it’s not everyone’s business model.
But it’s a fascinating approach for building in fresh content and continued revenue.
(*Read the entire article at: http://tinyurl.com/pou2umc)