Max De Lucia
Max De Lucia 18 August 2020

Sonic Branding: How Gaming Companies Can Maintain Loyal Customers

With a surge in demand over the past few months, gaming companies are amassing new audiences in droves but how can these businesses convert these new users into loyal customers? One untapped opportunity for gaming brands is to better deploy music and sound in their brand architecture.

The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on virtually all areas of business. From retail, property and financial services through to travel, hospitality and leisure, it’s hard to find an industry that hasn’t felt the effects of the global lockdown.

Meanwhile, isolation has led to a paradigm shift in consumer habits, as people have adapted how they shop, communicate and entertain themselves, almost overnight.

Yet one industry that has seen a surge in demand is gaming and online betting, with people around the world connecting through online games more than ever during lockdown. Video games have been downloaded and played in record numbers since the start of the pandemic, with the makers of Call of Duty (CoD) and Fifa recording record sales in recent days. Staggeringly, the latest CoD game 'Warzone' racked up more than 60 million players since its launch in March.

With this surge in demand, gaming companies are amassing new audiences in their droves. The challenge for these brands is how to convert these users into loyal customers.

While gaming companies have been quick to invest in building the visual identity of their brand, in a bid to both retain and win customers, sound must also play an important role, not just as an add on, but as an integral part of their brands’ architecture. 

This is a sector that has been revolutionised by technology, from virtual innovation to in-game advertising. And with users increasingly craving immersive experiences, sound must play a pivotal role in setting the boundaries for new virtual environments. 

With this in mind, there remains an untapped opportunity for gaming brands to better deploy music and sound in order to engage with their user base on an emotional level.

An industry like gaming presents a plethora of touchpoints from which music and sound can play out to consumers. The very nature of online gaming provides a platform from which brands can find audiences in places that ears can reach.

One gaming company leading the charge is Epic Games, maker of the hugely popular Fortnite, which held what some have labelled the live music event of the year. US rapper Travis Scott performed a live set inside the online shooter game, with more than 12m players taking part in the spectacle, and many more watching via streaming platforms. In total the game attracted an audience of 27.7m, illustrating the enormous power of music within the industry.

What’s more, with the global pandemic resulting in the cancellation of concerts across the world, musicians are now more than ever looking at ways to take their live shows online and to reach new audiences with streamed performances and brand partnerships. Artists are exploring different ways to use online games to interact with their fans, while games like FIFA have become prized media spaces for musicians and record labels looking to break new tracks.

Another aspect of the gaming world is betting, with online fruit machines and casino games relying on sound to reinforce the wins – think of virtual coins clattering down as the player hits jackpot. 

A number of studies have in fact been done to investigate the role that sound plays in psychophysical responses to slot machine play, with findings illustrating that sound influences the arousal of participants both psychophysically and psychologically, as well as their preferences, with the majority of players preferring to play slot machines that were accompanied by winning sounds.

When bringing the worlds of music and gaming together, there is an opportunity to be truly creative. By its very nature, the experience of gaming is unique in that users can create their own experience on screen, making it more memorable than either film or TV. And to put it simply, users are more emotionally invested, which makes gaming the perfect platform for brands to embrace music and sound.

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