Content. It’s the Holy Grail that, with just enough of the right scale, can be that ultimate viaduct between marketers and potential consumers. Yet, it goes way beyond scale. Any decent marketing guru would tell you that content which has the scalability of a couple million viewers is a good thing. But what about staleability? Yes, the actual ratio of freshness (or rather refresh rate) of content as it relates to the number of people consuming that content. And that’s where mobile gaming content and its domination of the mobile content market comes into play.
With the proliferation of such sleek and fast mobile devices becoming commonplace, coupled with the mass adoption of downloading apps (Apple’s App Store is at 25 billion and counting), it should come as no surprise that 90% of apps have a very limited shelf life. And that’s being conservative. Think about it: how many apps can you actually identify as engaging with on a regular basis for over three months? Aside from staples like Facebook and Pandora, they are few and far between. Sure, there is always going to be an app that’s hot at the moment; many of which happen to be games, which inherently have a short shelf life due to the fact there is always going to be one goal in mind: Winning. If the developer of a game is smart, they will figure out a way to keep you coming back for more play time; be it special unlocked content through Easter eggs, or simple ways to jump ahead such as buy-ups through social currency.
The darling game of the moment happens to be called Temple Run. With over 800,000 positive reviews, and daily downloads well into the six-figures, you’d think they would do anything they could to sustain this traction. And while they’ve done an excellent job of not only building up a user-base, but a clean gaming experience with zero ads and flawless execution, they haven’t had the foresight to see the monetization opportunities beyond first base. Is the game addicting? Absolutely. Is it structured in a way to engage players? Several built-in challenges would indicate the answer is yes. However, people get bored in today’s on-demand / always-a-new-app-to-download world. How do you keep a grip on having players return on a regular basis?
Having come from a large agency before starting up my own, I know first-hand that marketers (especially entertainment and CPG) are always looking for innovative ways to reach their potential customers (or viewers) through engaging ways, and often look to casual games to do so. They are also willing to plunk down wads of cash to do it, too. One of the best pieces of free advice I can give to any marketer out there when it comes to jumping into casual games, is if there is already a very successful game out there with legions of players, best to get engaged than trying to have the baby on your own, if you know what I mean. Players are eager for fresh levels, new characters, and awesome challenges (and having no display banners wouldn’t hurt either). Marketers want the eyeballs. The game developer wants to generate more revenue. Do I need to do the math here? It’s not that farfetched for whoever is PowerAde’s agency of record to propose to their client an opportunity for a major integration on the hottest mobile game since Angry Birds, is it? Unique (and of course branded) power-ups can be easily inserted into a new software update download whereby the player is now flicking and swiping his/her avatar in an attempt to collect the coins and the new PowerAde flavor 1-Up.
My point in all of this is that developers of games have to rethink the way they look to monetize their games to reduce and ultimately eliminate their content’s staleability. Content can be easily refreshed using innovative branding integration as a way of satisfying all parties involved: the player, the marketer, and the developer.
With a new hot game a dime a dozen, it’s critical to think long-term and plan for financial success. Today’s digital-savvy consumers are not inept when it comes to value exchange. Agencies should be able to identify trends and position strategic opportunities for the best interest of the client. And in order to do that, we need to rewire the way we think about the customer.