Rowan Heasley
Rowan Heasley 1 July 2015
Categories Content, Mobile, Social Media

Do Branded Games Have Souls?

With 33.5 million Britons playing games, it's not surprising that the use of Branded Games is growing among marketers...

With 33.5 million Britons playing games, it’s not surprising that the use of Branded Games is growing among marketers who are seeking to engage with people online.

Branded games can offer many benefits from Awareness, to Conversion, Retention and more. They are cost effective, deliver positive engagement and produce a great ROI.

But how do these games compete against the indie developers (Independent Developers) out there who are compulsively building games for themselves and competing for similar target audiences as brands?

Indie developers have exploded over the last few years to meet the demand from consumers who have also grown in numbers as a result of with the increasing use of mobile, tablet, social platforms and longer PC access for all age groups.

First let’s take a look at Indie game developers, they are generally passionate gamers themselves with design or development backgrounds, who have decided to go it alone. They have a concept which they want to turn into a reality with the dream of making it big. Some of them have gone on to be extremely successful creating big and well known titles and franchises. Rovio, the developers of Angry Birds, were once Indies, and their success has turned them into a successful company in their own right.

However most Indies do fail, it generally takes 3-5 years for the average business to make money and this can cause havoc with small company’s cash flows. This in turn has an impact on how much depth and polish they put into a game as time is money and money is a limited resource. With a background in development they may not know enough about marketing and so many good games languish in obscure corners of the internet.

Indies are small development teams known for their enthusiasm and this can carry through into their games giving them a life and soul that enables them to have a far-reaching impact. Many indie developers however don’t always do this for a full time living and lack commitment and knowledge of all necessary aspects of game development. This can leave too many loose ends in their game development process such as bugs or a lack of marketing or polish.

Branded Games struggle against the same disadvantages, they are limited by budgets in the same way that Indies are, and cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars that a company like Zynga would put into a game. They operate within tight time-frames which can mean that features need to be dropped in order to hit deadlines, though this also means that there is commitment and a focus in the development.

The biggest advantages for Branded Games however is their brand and the commitment to that brand.

It’s not always possible to match brands to certain popular game genres in a relevant way. Can you see Huggies working with Call of Duty? I can see its uses if somebody starting shooting at me …but it would not be appropriate to create a “Huggies Shoot ‘em Up” game.

If marketers are feel strongly about their brand, they will carry that feeling through into the game they develop. A fun brand will have a humorous game, a serious brand will still create a light-hearted game but with a more substantial underlying message.

In summary Indies and Brands are competing for consumers’ attention, they have similar issues with regards to budgets, game development knowledge and marketing.

Brands however have the slight edge here, being established companies, with marketers that have a genuine passion for the products and services, that they have spent years working with and training for. This passion carries through to the agency and combined with detailed knowledge of target audiences, understanding of deadlines and working within well-defined budgets it can lead to the creation of some truly amazing games where people really want to engage with your brand.

Read more on the Penguin Perspective Blog

Find out more on the future of Technology at our DLUK - Trends Briefing on the 24th September 2015

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