The Relevancy Of Branded Content For The Success Of A Game.
With so many games and apps on the digital market, the question developers and publishers must ask themselves is how to monetize their product. Unfortunately there is no recipe that guarantees revenues, but there are plenty of strategies that raise the probability of success.
The first important decision every developer must make concerns the monetization model and whether it is a free-to-play or a premium game. This will determine the nature of the integration of the branded items within the game and help users interact with the content in ways that increase revenues.
There are two common integration models. In the first case, called a mash up, a brand’s IP is offered as a distinct add-on or extension to the original game. The second creates a more fully branded integration, where a version of the game is built around a brand’s unique universe.
Success Through Branded Content
The immense potential of a fully-branded game’s success is proven by games like Marvel Contest of Champions, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Jurassic World: The Game, Walking Dead: Road to Survival, The Simpsons: Tapped Out or Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. These games all generated mid six figure to seven figure monthly revenues (US Dollars) during the last six months. A look at the app store rankings shows that around 20% of the top 100 ranked games are fully branded, indicating the importance of brands in the gaming market.
At Iconicfuture, where we match brands with suitable games and apps, we see the success of games through brand integrations first-hand. The fully branded Care Bears game that TabTale created saw a high number of new users and revenues immediately after launch - the game reached #2 in the app store within a number of hours. We have also seen successful mash-up integrations, notably in Goalunited, where we steadily assimilate licenses from top European football clubs. To date, more than one million branded items have been purchased in the game.
In a study on the integration of brands, GameRefinery had a closer look at Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and The Walking Dead: Road to Survival. They came to the conclusion that both games revenues would be 50-70% lower without The Walking Dead or a popular celebrity like Kim Kardashian in the game. Both games are hugely successful now and perfect examples of well-designed fully branded integration.
The Perfect Match Is Crucial
Even with branded content, success can never be guaranteed. Poor graphics or bad gameplay can cause a game to flop as in the case of Aliens: Colonial Marines (as mentioned by JT Ripton in The Koalition.) Furthermore, the match of game and brand has to be contextually relevant. Otherwise, branded content might have close to zero influence on the performance of a game as seen in the case of Bruce Lee in Temple Run 2. Temple Run 2 had consistently high downloads numbers as a mobile game. After the launch of Bruce Lee in the game revenues and download numbers were not significantly affected.
In order to find the best match for a brand in a game, both must be intensively analyzed.