While mobile gaming may have once been dismissed as a ‘trend’ or a ‘fad, there’s no denying that these days, mobile gaming is big business. According to figures from Newzoo, a video game research firm, in 2015, mobile gaming’s revenues will surpass that of console gaming with North American mobile gaming revenues expected to grow by 51% year-over-year. Moreover, a study from The NPD Group notes that the time that we spend playing mobile games has increased by over 50% since 2012.
These phenomenal stats on mobile gaming, combined with the fact that traditional advertisements no longer have the pull that they used to (the digital generation of ‘millennial’ no longer responds to them), mean that the mobile games industry is a prime way of increasing brand awareness and promoting your brand’s goods and services. Mobile gaming is effective as instead of just subconsciously taking-in information or possibly even ignoring the info (as they may do with most advertisements), the player is deeply engaged in the app and so you stand a far better chance of getting your point across/getting them to consider what you’re offering.
A good example of this in action is the app Red Bull Air Race The Game. Based on the real life Red Bull Air Race competition, the app allows players to fly a variety of planes as a variety of pilots in a variety of real-life locations. Red Bull logos, colors and branding appear throughout the game without being intrusive. Other well-received examples of branded titles include Angry Birds Rio (a tie-in to the film ‘Rio’) and Brisksaber (sponsored by Pepsico’s Brisk Ice Tea brand) that allows players to wave a Star Wars lightsaber to slice enemies in half.
The reason all of these apps were successful is simply because they’re fun to play. Fun is the key ingredient to making a branded app–as boring players to death is a surefire way not just to turn potential players away from your game, but to turn them off of your brand as well. This is especially the case if you prioritise ad placement, banners and even video advertisements over gameplay, as this can come across as heavy handed and distracting. This approach will only alienate gamers as they are looking for entertainment and they do not want to be constantly bombarded with ads that clutter their experience.
It is also important to consider how you might monetize the app; Red Bull Air Race has microtransactions with players able to spend real money to unlock added content, while the Brisksaber app encouraged players to purchase bottles of Brisk to find codes that unlocked new content. Brand awareness and engagement may be enough of a return on investment for you, but monetization via in-app purchases or through incentivized product purchases may help make the ROI even more concrete.