Take for instance, Adidas’s use of a branded game with augmented reality technology. Augmented reality (AR) is a form of technology that enables the overlay of digital images and information over a real (physical) environment. The phrase was first coined in 1990 to describe a digital display aircraft electricians used that blended virtual graphics with the physical elements of the aircraft. Adidas released a series of shoes (Originals AR) with a QR code built into the shoe’s tongue. A QR code is a two-dimensional bar code that can be read using a webcam or mobile device equipped with a code reader. QR is an acronym for Quick Response. The code allows the content to be decoded quickly, hence the name. The code unlocks online content that might include information, games, videos, or experiences. In the Adidas example, the code unlocks a protected area of the Adidas website. There, the customer can play games with other players while using the shoes as the game controller.
Although the stereotypes of casual versus hardcore gamers still hold some truth, social games are blurring the distinctions between these two types, and indeed they are bringing new gamers (and crossover games) into the mix.
The average gamer is 34 years old with 12 years of gaming experience. Twenty-six percent of gamers are over 50; this segment is expected to increase as seniors recognize the value of gaming as a social entertainment experience. The majority of American homes now own either a console and/or a computer used to run game software. Historically, casual gamers trend older and female whereas hardcore gamers skew younger and male. Early studies on social gamers suggest that a single profile would paint a picture that looks very similar to that of the casual gamer (and most social games share the characteristics of casual games). That said, the sheer number of people playing social games (eMarketer estimates the number at about 40 million in the United States in 2010) means that social games pull from both types of gamers (as well as recruiting a new breed of gamer who developed an interest in games within the context of social media).
Each of these will be coved on the following slides
Platforms include game consoles, computers (including both online games and those that require software installation on the player’s computer hard drive), and portable devices that may include smartphones or devices specifically for game play such as the Sony PSP or Nintendo DS.9 However, it’s important to keep in mind that social games often appear on multiple platforms: Gamers have a strong tendency to use two or more platforms so designers can reach them as they move back and forth.
• Simulation games: There are several subgenres including racing simulators, flight simulators, and “Sim” games that enable the players to simulate the development of an environment. • Action games consist of two major subgenres: first-person shooters (FPS) where you “see” the game as your avatar sees it and third-person games. • Role-playing games (RPGs), are closely tied to the milieu of fantasy. • Strategy games may involve contextualizing information available from secondary sources outside the game itself, including previous experience with game play. Puzzle games, a common variant in the realm of social games, are also a type of strategy game.
Display ads are integrated in a game’s environment as billboards, movie posters, and storefronts, or simply as ad space within the game screen. The display advertising may be static or dynamic and include text, images, or rich media. Rich media advertising can run pre-roll (before the game begins), interlevel (between stages of the game), or post-roll (at the game’s conclusion), though interlevel is the most common placement. Static ads are hard-coded into the game and ensure that all players view the advertising. Bing’s display ad in FarmVille is an example of an in-game, static display ad. Dynamic ads are variable; they change based on specified criteria. Dynamic advertising is valuable because of the high degree of control and real-time measurement it offers.
Script placements take the process one step further: They include verbal mentions of the brand’s name and attributes in the plot. For example, in Madden NFL 11, players are exposed to the Old Spice Swagger, a sponsored rating of a player’s personality. Gamers note that product placements that are realistic enhance the game’s realism and make the game more enjoyable. However, that hasn’t been the case for Madden NFL 11—online chatter criticizes the Old Spice sponsorship as product placement gone too far. Transactional advertising rewards players if they respond to a request. This technique is part product placement, part direct response advertising, part sales promotion. Players are rewarded with the virtual goods, currencies, or codes if they make a purchase, friend the brand, watch a commercial, or perhaps answer a survey. ProFlowers used transactional advertising as part of a Valentine’s Day promotion in Playfish’s Pet Society game. Players who sent real flowers from within the game were rewarded with Playfish Cash. Netflix offered Farm Cash to FarmVille players who registered for a free trial.
In the film industry this is known as a plot placement. Plot placements involve situations in which the brand is actually incorporated into the story itself in a substantive manner. Whether a plot placement or some other form of integration, the result is enhanced brand attitudes, recall and recognition, and purchase.
Advergames are almost exclusively available online rather than in hard media because of the desire to have a cost-effective method of distributing the game to a large audience. Perhaps because advergames are not intended to make money, but rather to serve as a promotion vehicle that builds awareness for the sponsoring brand, many have lagged behind in terms of their technical sophistication compared to social games.
Brands benefit when they associate with a successful game. When players love a game, some of these positive feelings rub off on the brands they encounter within it; this spillover is called a transference effect. This is the same thing that tends to happen with event sponsorships. Brands often try to link to sports and music events like the Olympics or a Rihanna concert to gain residual benefits from the brand-event association. The meaning transfer model states that consumers associate meaning with the endorser and then transfer the meaning to the brand in question.
ARGs are ideally suited to social media because it would be impossible to solve the puzzle alone. Among players, the term “collective detective” acknowledges the need for a team approach to solve the mystery.
ARGs have their own vernacular—understanding the lingo is the first step to understanding the culture of alternate reality gaming.
Instead, players play until the mystery is solved (or the sponsorship is inadvertently discovered and leaked to the community) and the brand sponsor is revealed. This type of branded ARG is known as a dark play ARG; it’s one of the ways that brands can use dark marketing, which refers to a promotion that disguises the sponsoring brand.
MKT 380 Week 8
Introduction to Social Media
Describe the characteristics of social games and gamer
Explain how social media marketers use social games for
branding and promotion
Discuss why social games are an effective marketing tool
Describe the characteristics of alternative reality games
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using
alternative reality games as marketing tools
A social game is defined as a multiplayer,
competitive, goal-oriented activity with defined rules
of engagement and online connectivity among a
community of players. Most social games include a
few key elements:
• Leaderboards: a listing of the leaders in the game
• Achievement badges: symbols awarded to show game
levels achieved and shared to the community
• Friend (buddy) lists with chat: a list of contacts with whom
one plays and the ability to communicate within the game
Traditionally, gamers have been categorized either
as casual or hardcore.
• Casual games (played by casual players) require
only a small amount of time, are easy to learn and
are readily available
• Core games (played by hardcore players) require a
great time investment, are highly immersive and
demand advanced skill
Gaming is not limited to male teens, as once believed
• 67 percent of households play computer games
• 60 percent male overall
• 55 percent female for casual social games
How We Categorize
Game design is built upon several layers, including
• milieu, and genre
A platform refers to the hardware systems on which the
game is played.
Mode and Milieu
Mode refers to the way the game world is experienced.
Milieu describes the visual nature of the game such as science
fiction, fantasy, horror, and retro.
The genre of a game refers to the method of play. Popular
• Simulation games attempt to depict real-world situations as
accurately as possible.
• Action games are performative in that the player chooses an
action that the game then executes.
• Role-playing games (RPGs) are games in which the players
play a character role with the goal of completing some mission.
• Strategy games are those that involve expert play to organize
and value variables in the game system.
In-game advertising is promotion within a game that anoth
. Marketers can choose from among three general
methods for in-game advertising.
• Display ads
• Static ads
• Dynamic ads
A product placement is the placement
of a branded item in an entertainment
property such as a television program,
movie, or game.
• Also includes:
• Screen placements
• Script placements
• Transactional advertising
Click here to explore this well-developed case study on
Mafia Wars’ Public Enemies Week
In-game immersive advertising opportunities include
interactive product placements, branded in-game
experiences, and game integration between the game and
The game itself is a form of branded
entertainment. It is designed by the brand to
reflect the brand’s positioning statement.
Why Do Games Work for
There are some key characteristics of games—in
addition to cost and ease of targeting—that make
this domain especially attractive to marketers going
• Gamers are open to advertising content in games
• Brands benefit when they associate with a successful game
• Players identify with the brands their characters use,
increasing brand involvement
• Branding within a game’s story is an unobtrusive way to share
a brand’s core message
• Marketers can measure a game’s promotional value
Click here to learn in depth about the Lost Ring ARG sponsored
Alternate Reality Games: A
An alternate reality game (ARG) is “a cross-media genre of
interactive fiction using multiple delivery and
communications media, including television, radio,
newspapers, Internet, email, SMS, telephone, voicemail, and
Since ARGs involve two or more different media, they are
also known as transmedia social games.
Characteristics of ARGs
ARGs are based on a fictional story.
ARGs are strategy/puzzle games.
ARGS offer clues on multiple platforms.
The story and characters are fictional, but the game space is
Players collaborate to unravel the meanings of the clues offered
but they also compete to be the first to solve layers of the
The story unfolds, but typically not in a linear fashion.
ARGs are organic; the story may not unfold as initially
Players rely on the Internet, and especially social communities
including forums, as the hub of communication.
Players desire to share information with each other and for the
story to be followed by observers.
The Vocabulary of ARGs
Puppet master: The authors, architects, and managers of the story
and its scenarios and puzzles.
Curtain: The invisible line separating the players from the puppet
Rabbit hole: The clue or site that initiates the game.
Collective detective: A term that captures the notion of
collaboration among a team of geographically dispersed players
who work together to flesh out the story.
Lurkers and rubberneckers: Lurkers follow the game but do not
actively participate; rubberneckers participate in forums but do
not actively play
Steganography: The tactic of hiding messages within another
medium so that the message is undetectable for those who do not
know to look for it.
Trail: A reference index of the game including relevant sites,
puzzles, in-game characters, and other information.
The Marketing Value of ARGs
The most successful ARGs in terms of participation are
The key is to ensure a high level of congruence between the
game and the brand.
Many of the games do not identify the sponsor who is behind
Evaluating the Effectiveness of a
ARG effectiveness measures are similar to those used for other
social media approaches. Specifically:
• Number of active players
• Number of lurkers and rubberneckers
• Rate of player registration
• Number of player messages generated
• Traffic at sites affiliated with the ARG
• Number of forum postings
• Average play time
• Media impressions made through ARG generated publicity
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