It is abundantly clear that the rise of social and mobile media has fundamentally changed the face of computer gaming. What was once an activity restricted to the home or the arcade has now been opened up to every proud owner of a smart phone, a tablet or an internet connection. This sudden availability of millions of games across hundreds of genres and sub-genres has naturally led to a sea change in the demographics of those playing games. No longer the preserve of young males who form the bulk of the hardcore gaming community, it is now women who are flocking to play. On what could be considered gender neutral titles such as Farmville and Bejeweled we can see a â€˜usership' of 66.8% and 78.3% respectively in the favour of women, compared with 92.2% male on Call of Duty 4 (a console based first person shooter for the uninitiated).
So what does this have to do with brands? Well as we have covered in some detail on this blog, social media is a key driver of success in this brave new digital world. But, as has also become clear, it is not enough to simply collect Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Instead, to really make best use of social, brands need to continuously be on the look out for ways to create exciting and innovative content that is going to engage the community.
This is where gaming steps in.
It seems that there are predominantly three areas where gaming can be of use to brands.
1) Brand image. At the core of the success of brands such as Red Bull has been the willingness to innovate at every turn. By doing so they have positioned their entire brand image as something cool, current and trusted.
2) Monetisation. With the value of the social gaming space predicted to hit $4 billion by 2014, there is plenty of significant revenue before we even consider the indirect income available through increased footfall.
3) Customer engagement. Ultimately games are played when people are looking to relax and pass the time. In this way your branded game will interact with your customer at the moment they are most open to influence. If you can create a subconscious link between your brand and a positive experience, they are surely more likely to look favourably on you when they are looking to buy.
Whilst there are certainly risks involved in the social space, there really has never been a better time to experiment. Whether it be a game from scratch or involvement in an existing title, find yourself a developer and get playing!
For some fascinating insights into social media, check out this interview with Christer Holloman.