"There's no magic formula," said Matt Story, director of Play, a division of the media and advertising at Denuo opening the session, Leveraging Brand Power, at this year’s MI6 Conference. “but there are some simple principles marketers can use,” he explained, to reach gamers.
“With increased player spending, more mass marketers are looking at games,” he said, which is “great for those in the audience,” but that there is a fear that the use of traditional marketing techniques in the space, will limit its growth.
With the average player’s age at 33, and the average player gaming for the past 12 years, marketers eyes have been “opened up” to the potential of taking to gamers.
"[Members of Generation Y] are growing up with a controller in their hand, and they aren't putting the controller down," said Story, "and are watching less TV and playing more games.”
"Gaming is no longer a hobby. Most gamers take gaming very seriously," he expanded, spending 9-10 hours per week playing games and also spending time with online and print gaming publications. "Gaming has becomes a lifestyle more than it is just a hobby."
"I would challenge somebody to come up with a better name than casual gaming," said Story. “The name implies people who spend less time gaming, but that’s not necessarily true. Casual gaming is a larger market -- casual gamers outnumber hardcore gamers -- which gets marketers excited. For these gamers, it is a family activity, not a solo experience. They're a pretty significant group that hasn't been accessed through game advertising."
Even with puzzle, board and trivia games making up more than 50% of online casual games, Story felt that there was an opportunity to “leverage casual games beyond just banner ads” as over 1/3 of the US population admits to playing casual game at least once a month.
“Games could have big marketing tie-ins, like General Motors and Transformers. We really think there's an opportunity to bring that to games. Brands like Purina and Oil of Olay are asking how to get involved with games,” continued Story, "There's going to need to be people who step out on the ledge and take a chance on this industry. The ‘Wild West’ of games needs navigators.”
Reach Beyond Traditional Marketing
John Rafferty, the creative director of Play, began to discuss the ways in which marketing in gaming can reach beyond traditional marketing, “with partnerships between companies in both spheres.”
Story explained: “Not only are there a lot of marketing knowhow in established brands, there are lots of dollars -- Chevy has a lot of experienced marketers, but also a lot of money to get into new spaces like games.”
“It’s important for brands to let game partners do what they want,” continued Rafferty. “Once Chevy gets its cars into a racing game, Chevy has to trust the developer when they want to make their cars crash and get damaged. In-game brands should also bring their own value and alliances to games. Pontiac has entire social site for its car fans, things like that should be brought to games as part of cross-marketing deals.”
But from the developer/publisher end, Rafferty warned “don't over-promise and under-deliver. Invite marketers and brands to the conversation early, so everyone can bring more to the table. Understand the brand's position. Just because Old Spice has a ship in the logo, doesn't mean they just want to be in pirate games."
Story used the example of a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08
deal with Buick. The deal required Buick cars to be in game, plus Buick branding On Tiger’s in game golf bag, Buick branding on scoreboards and UI screens, and so on. However, "We wanted to push the envelope and do something that pushed the interactivity," said Story.
He explained that they placed a “Buick clubhouse” in the game – gamers who beat the second “boss” in challenge mode gained access to the clubhouse, allowing them to buy Buick branded items in the pro shop, boosting their stats, and beating the fifth boss would grant the player “Ambassador status”: access to an exclusive channel on EA Sports’ GamerNet, increased stat boosts, and free in-game items.
"Are there any Buick owners here?” Story asked. “No? Maybe after seeing this, you'll go buy one. Please?"