We begin this conversation with what we know: Americans love playing games, especially on mobile devices. TechCrunch has found that up to 11% of the time a smartphone user is on their device, they’re playing games – this can mean more than an hour and a half a day of game play time.
Gaming is a huge industry. Top video games command impressive prices: it’s often $60 or more for a new console game release, particularly in a popular franchise like Call of Duty or Super Mario. But the largest growth in the industry isn’t console games: instead, it’s free mobile games that are gaining new players at a stratospheric rate.
If the games are free, how do game developers make their money? The answer is advertising. Advertisers are often concerned at the type of reception they can expect from game players – sponsoring game play is still a relatively new concept for many retailers, restauranteurs, and small business owners. They’re worried that players will form a negative association with their brand due to the advertising.
In fact, the opposite is true. Janelle Benjamin runs SuperDataResearch, an analytics company that focuses on user transactions on free-to-play video games. She recently told Crain’s NY that ads aren’t problematic. “If you pay $60 for a game at GameStop, you don’t want to see ads. If you’re playing for free, you understand the trade-off.”
The question then becomes one of determining which games are the right avenue for a small business to promote themselves. Product placement, like the billboards in Gran Turismo, command jaw-dropping prices. Advertising via a mobile game is far more affordable. Other factors to consider are the appropriateness of the game to your customer base, how often that sort of game is played, and if the game encourages social sharing, including the ability to invite friends, which raises your brand visibility and maximizes campaign ROI. Be aware that exclusive advertising is always better than a shared platform: it’s much better to be the only advertiser in a game, rather than one of dozens.
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