written by: Lai Yuet Chi, Vanesse

Since 1967, electronic game has brought earth-shaking changes to human life, attracting 2.6 billion players worldwide in 2017 (Meeker, 2017). Electronic game is no longer just for entertainment, but for education, sports, business, military training and so on. Within half of the century, technology has totally pushed the envelope of gaming to a community activity – multi-players, dialogue, sharing of tools, tactics and fun. Thanks to the continuous technology upgrade in bandwidth, network performance and streaming capabilities, the result of community engagement is indeed opening up vast opportunity for marketers to rethink how storytelling could be done.

Research shows that an average gamer spends 86 minutes daily on the activity, much more than the average time spend on Facebook which is 50 minutes. Gaming is content as well as entertainment, with its extensive reach, has also evolved to become a marketing channel for brands promotion collaboration.

Gaming and marketing cross-over
Traditional loyalty marketing usually roots in a spend-and-reward customer relationship. For example, Starbucks purchases are rewarded with accumulation of Starbuck Stars for discounts to attract repeat patronage. Disney Inc. is developing/licencing merchandises based on movie characters of their own production.

Nowadays, games developers are collaborating with retail brands or shopping malls to do the same.

The legendary Candy Crush Saga launched in 2012, has accumulated over 100 million downloads to date. HMV is selling Trolli Candies with the same design as the virtual candies exclusively in 2015, creating appeal to the vast fan-base of the game. A shopping mall, Citywalk in Tsuen Wan has organised a Christmas carnival under the Candy Crush Saga theme. For every HKD200 spend on shopping, customers will get a free ticket to participate in obstacle race and playground slide. By crossing over with popular games, brands are bringing the intangible virtual world into reality for win-win marketing promotion results.

Candy Crush Saga Playground Slide Source: Unwire HK

More options to merge reality with the virtual world
Advance in technology on gaming is continuing to open up new options for consumer promotions. Pokémon GO, another free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality (AR) game developed by Niantic for mobile devices launched in 2016 has hit 650 million downloads worldwide within a year. Gamers are spending an average of 43 minutes daily to play the game. Marketers are inspired to leverage this crowd-pleasing AR game to promote physical activity and to increased foot traffic.

Instagram of Lee Tung Avenue

Lee Tung Avenue placed ‘lure modules’ at the Pokéstops near the shopping mall. The mall make announcement on the social media that every lure module will make the Pokémons to stay for as long as 30 minutes, thus making it easier to be caught. The first 20 trainers who caught Pokémons at the mall will be awarded with $50 dining coupon.

Pokémons GO is enabling marketers to communicate with target audience at the right place with the right time, creating memorable experiences that are associated with the shopping mall and the players. In this way, games become the catalyst for physical channels to reinvent themselves to collaborate with social media.

Dogtiev, Artyom. (2017). Pokémon GO Revenue and Usage Statistics. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from http://www.businessofapps.com/data/pokemon-go-statistics/
Meeker, Mary. (2017). Internet Trends 2017- Code Conference. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends
Sarkar, Samit. (2017). Pokémon GO hits 650 downloads. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from https://www.polygon.com/2017/2/27/14753570/pokemon-go-downloads-650-million
Wollaston, Victoria. (2013). Candy Crush Saga soars above Angry Birds to become WORLD’S most popular game. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2324228/Candy-Crush-Saga-overtakes-Angry-Birds-WORLDS-popular-game.html#ixzz4wQSewDXJ