The gamification of the digital world was an idea that popped up quite a few times at last week’s SXSW conference. Much of the discussion revolved around a presentation by SCVNGR creator Seth Priebatsch who was quoted as saying, “Game dynamics are too powerful to leave bottled up in games.”
Think about the amount of time the digitally connected adult spends playing games on his phone, online or on a game system. People have been known to spend an entire weekend working their way through the World of Warcraft and have you had enough of those Farmville updates you keep getting from your Facebook friends?
Videogame designers, the logic goes, have become the modern world’s leading experts on how to keep users excited, engaged and committed: the success of the games industry proves that, whatever your personal opinion of Grand Theft Auto or World of Warcraft. . . . Three billion person-hours a week are spent gaming. Couldn’t some of that energy be productively harnessed?
Couldn’t some of that energy be used to promote your brand? Tony Hoskins of AdAge follows up on this idea.
Imagine: Spending your time in the Starbucks line playing a game that could win you a free latte by the time you reach the counter. Letting your son play for a discounted ski lift ticket on the way to the slopes. Having a favorite game that gets bigger and better every time you use your phone to buy groceries.
Brilliant, simple and yet rarely done. Why? Surely we have the technology. There are several companies that use mobile check-in loyalty programs, so we know how to keep track of visits. Nearly every digital game has levels and bonus rewards based on play, so that’s not an issue. Millions of people have downloaded mobile games so we can’t be worried that there’s no audience.
Could it be that the only thing stopping marketers from gamification is fear of the game itself. Games have had a bad rap in the past. Video games have been deemed responsible for some of the most horrendous acts of violence in the real world. At the very least, they were labeled a waste of time and let’s not even talk about the billions spent on virtual goods each year. Perhaps they fear they won’t be taken seriously?
More likely the reason is that it’s a new concept and that can be a real sticking point, particularly for old school brands who have the money to build a truly nifty branded game.
A few big brands have dipped their toes into the water. McDonalds sponsored farms on Farmville and Entertainment Weekly has joined a variety of networks and studios that offer stickers on GetGlue. Now it’s time to go further. Look at it this way, marketing has always been a competitive game, only now it has bonus levels, score cards and rewards for spending time playing when you should be doing something else.
What do you think about the gamification of mobile marketing?