Is gamification the next big thing in marketing?

“Why has gaming been an excellent marketing channel?”

As Miller (2011) mentioned in Crayon’s “Gamification 101” slides, “Games are the most engaging medium around.” As a result, over 10 millions of UK gamers are spending more than 20 hours a week playing, and gaming has therefore become one of the best ways to engage consumers.

Here are the latest general trends in gaming as a marketing platform that can give you an insight of how to best utilise gaming to create a buzz.

1) In-game Ads

Advertising in games is not a new concept, but evolving from the traditional product placement, marketers have made a new breakthrough by associating brands with in-game context to further enhance the gaming experience. In addition, more brands are exploring new possibilities such as directly bribing gamers into watching an advertising with virtual game currency or real prizes in exchange.
Instead, there are also marketers who believe bribery is now necessary, and with the rising of mobile apps, more engaging rich media ad is a natural consequence (Wasserman, 2011).

2)Brand Games

Although it is not an easy task to design brand games, when created properly and coupled with sufficient promotions, those with unique brand stories can generate a huge amount of undivided consumer attention (Yaroshevski, 2011).
Alternatively, brands can also choose to create relatively inexpensive social games which are not necessary related to their mission to establish a digital community and brand loyalty (Sniderman, 2011).

3)Gaming for Good

Gaming has become a new channel for NGOs to reach potential donors, enabling them to proceed micro-donations through more convenient and enjoyable in-game actions (PSFK, 2011). This kind of partnership is also the
realisation of gaming companies’ corporate social responsibility.

4) Gamification

In the book “Gamification by Design” written by Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham (2011 cited in Hurlbert, 2011), gamification is defined as “the process of game-thinking and game mechanics to engage users and solve problems”.

This term has become a buzzword since 2011, and as Badgeville CEO Kris Duggan indicated in the interview by The Next Web, “If gamification was a “fad” in 2011, it’s grown up to become a real, sustainable business strategy for 2012”, gamification is going to stay (Olanoff, 2011).

The diagram below also shows how the spending on gamification is expected to increase, and will eventually account for nearly one-third of the total social media marketing budget in 2016 (M2 Research, 2011). Research recently carried out by Gartner (cited in Olanoff, 2011) also estimated that by 2015, 70% of Global 2000 companies will be gamified.

Last but not least, instead of letting users take actions purely online, gamification has been slowly moving into real life for even more social and immersive engagement experience (Fisher, 2011).

Taking into consideration that all  the four trends mentioned above, it can be inferred that both in-game Ads and brand games may require too many resources to implement, and the necessary partnership in gaming for good can mostly be established only by chance. Therefore,  the application of gamification is the one that seems to be flourishing. 


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