A few thoughts about gaming mechanics in advertising, a topic I've been thinking a lot about. I believe that 80% of advergames we currently see is just bad. Partly because agencies are not knowledgeable enough. Good ones started respecting the user with some insightful interactions and stopped interrupting the consumer on TV.
Today, this same shift between interrupting and involving has to happen again: towards gaming.
In the 2000's, the mainstream advertising was on TV. In the early 2010's it's strating to be on Digital Experiences.
Ad agencies that want to stay ahead of their competition need to build "gaming departments" and to focus on it as much as they've been focusing on their Digital departments for the last few years.
Advertising professionals need to take advantage of a trend that is currently happening within the Western population: everybody play games. Some might state that playing is "a core human desire".
Below is an extract of the thesis I wrote last month.
Any advertising operation that aims to fool the consumer will be a serious failure in the long run, if not also in the short run. Lots of advergames are in the form of a Facebook application, gathering personal data and trying to “make the buzz happen”, but simply moving a canvas from a website to Facebook does not make a game “social”. Some other developers or agencies advocate respectful gaming mechanics and end up offering a quality brand experience.
I Am Playr: The Perfect Match
I AM PLAYR is a game on Facebook which is about living a footballer’s life, literally through his own eyes, as it mixes game sequences, with POV film sequences.
What the British developer We R Interactive has done with I AM PLAYR (2011) is to make it fun to play, and moreover to make it fun to play with brands.
This game is definitely fun, disruptive and innovative. Even though it does not look like any other social game, several characteristics definitely make it a social game:
- It is more fun to play with friends
- You can purchase virtual items with real money
- It has daily rewards
- It is evolving and has an undefined lifetime
- Users evolve along with their avatar.
As the above Venn diagram shows the I AM PLAYR model, is at the crossroads of:
- Product placement: like in movies, the users have an experience and brands are shown
- Social games: as explained, it really is a social game with rich content, game mechanics which make it – above all – fun
- Advergames: users have to interact with different brands, not only one, which prevents the game from becoming boring.
A model that is respectful to the consumer and efficient for the advertiser. Going further, this model could be called “sustainable advergaming” as it combines different perspectives of advertising and gaming. What is already certain is that it is an ethical model: both advertisers and users are respected and have fun.
A New Genre of Advertising Space
At first, I AM PLAYR’s sole sponsor was known to be Nike and the news was spread about a game perhaps made especially for Nike . However, there is also a lot of Redbull to be seen in the game. And little by little brands started to join I AM PLAYR as advertisers: an Alfa Romeo is now to be won if the player scores enough goals in a defined number of games.
Nike is very present within the game, but not only: the user has to see the brand throughout a very long interactive movie, but one also has to become involved very deeply in the product experience.
Without losing any fun at all, the player visits Nike stores with his girlfriend, and he has to struggle to get a sponsorship contract with Nike – his agent puts pressure on him to score in key games and become famous. To make the user interact a lot with the Alfa Romeo brand, for instance, they even got users to select one by one the desired options for the car.
All this brand content is put into a very high quality game, with customized film sequences. The product placements are not annoying any more, because the consumer is respected, with expensive design.
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