The average citizen now sees about 4,000 ads per day. It’s become a marketing truism in recent years that to stand out in an oversaturated digital world, you must fuel customer engagement by offering something extra to convince customers to spend any time with your brand.
Some brands do this by offering informational content; some of them develop hyper-targeted and interactive social media strategies; some run viral twitter accounts. But in customers’ day-to-day lives, there are few branding opportunities more alluring than video games. Gaming is a massive industry–the Entertainment Software Association reports that the U.S. gaming sector made over $30 billion in revenue in 2016.
Though the stereotypical “gamer” image is largely young and male, ESA reports this massive economic force is driven by multiple demographics. 41 percent of gamers are female, and people of all ages play games; according to the ESA, 27 percent of the game playing public is under 18, 29 percent is 18-35, 18 percent is 36-49, and a shocking 26 percent is 50+.
Mobile play is a major factor driving the growth of gaming’s popularity across all sectors. Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report found that mobile games played on smartphones or tablets represent 42 percent of the $108.9 billion global gaming market.
Why are games so popular? Psychologists, anthropologists, and neuroscientists have all weighed in. In 2011, Psychology Today reported on a study which found video game play activates the brain’s pleasure circuits, generating a rush of the neurotransmitter dopamine even when the video game has no tie to an intrinsic reward (i.e., no real-world prize such as food or money).
An in-depth 2012 Game Informer article broke down three central rewards that keep video games engaging for players: competence (the sense of accomplishment that stems from leveling-up or beating an obstacle), autonomy (the sense of independence and self-control that stems from deciding in-game actions), and relatedness (the sense of forming social connections when gaming feels like a “world” shared by other individuals). Whatever the reason, video games elicit strong emotional responses in players, and that feeling of accomplishment and reward keeps users coming back for more.
Marketing, of course, is another industry built around eliciting an emotional response. Emotionally intelligent marketing has well-established benefits for companies’ bottom lines. For example, the Harvard Business Review reports on a credit card company which marketed a product meant to connect emotionally with Millenials; the product design and branding generated a 70 percent increase in use among the age group and a 40 percent increase in new account growth. A separate HBR article reports that emotionally engaged customers generate even more revenue for firms than highly satisfied ones.
It stands to reason, then, that marketers should look into gaming as a way to drive consumer engagement. Many companies have already seen the benefits of gamifying customer interactions–that is, applying elements of game design into the customer’s brand experience, such as rewarding loyalty with “points” or running giveaways and contests that reward customer interaction.
But companies like Gamee propose a next-level degree of gamification for brands looking to maximize customer engagement. By tapping into the pure enjoyment and social connection people have been finding in video games for decades, Gamee offers its customers a huge marketing advantage.
Gamee has hired a team of talented developers to create hundreds of embeddable games played by millions of gamers, largely on social devices and social media networks. Gamee’s collection includes several games designed specifically for client brands.
A game for NASA, for example, lets players drive the Curiosity Rover on Mars, while a game for Coca Cola’s Fanta division gamifies the average teen cola drinker’s chore of mowing the lawn while providing Fanta as a bonus. Both branded and unbranded games are seamlessly incorporated into Gamee’s app, which allows (and encourages) users to chat, play together, and compete for high scores.
Their games can also be embedded in virtually any social media or messaging platform, allowing seamless integration between players’ social media use and their gameplay and making Gamee that much more interactive and shareable.
Gamee’s app allows players to share statistics and play against (or with) one another, effectively building a community around their games — a surefire way to tap into those all-important emotional reward points video games trigger. Social gaming apps, such as Words with Friends or Farmville, have already demonstrated the addictive appeal of playing (mostly mobile) games with friends, family, and people across the world.
This trend only stands to accelerate; Venture Beat reports social gaming will only get bigger in 2018, particularly as hardware and software start to facilitate in-game communication on mobile devices, much as World of Warcraft players can communicate in real time without leaving their PC program.
A video game-based sense of community can have multiple positive effects on players: KQED News, the American Psychological Association, and Psychology Today have all reported studies finding that video games can build social values and skills among gamers.
Community, of course, is also hugely important for marketers. Communities form social niches that can be targeted with specifically-designed products and marketing messages; once a brand becomes popular in part of the community, the news is likely to spread to other areas of the same community, because all participants already share values and interests. Many companies have embraced community formation as a branding strategy, as customers and potential customers can form a closer relationship with the brand through positive social interaction with both the brand and each other.
Gamification is simply too powerful a marketing opportunity to ignore, and video games in particular show promise due to their unique interplay with the human brain. Gamee uses social connection to push customer engagement while encouraging them to have fun, too.
How could a Gamee game help your brand?Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.