Mobile games and brands: Putting the fun back into business for 2015

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Back in 2012, Dom Duhan wrote an insightful piece for Brand Republic on mobile games and brands. At the time he commented on the fatigue users often experience when it comes to digital platforms, largely due to the overwhelming number of corporate messages they receive in the Facebook News Feed, for example. He also pointed to the way in which games offered a great proposition for companies looking to build stronger relationships with their target market.
We’re now almost two years and two months on, and it’s safe to say many of his suggestions have been taken onboard (albeit, admittedly, he wasn’t the only commentator to stake his claim in the potential for games and brands, and even in 2012, games were already on the agenda for many forward-thinking firms). But still, you only need to glance at at this piece on GamesIndustry.biz for proof of exactly how lively this area of marketing is set to become.
According to Apple’s own stats, the top three mobile apps in 2014, when it comes to the number of downloads and installs, were games. Of course this isn’t to say that any of those were created by brands, but it does give some idea as to the overwhelming popularity of mobile gaming. Staggeringly, according to Yahoo’s Flurry website, gaming now accounts for the largest proportion of time spent on mobile devices, topping other apps, including social networks, and web browsing, claiming 32% of the average user’s daily ‘mobile minutes’.
Needless to say, there are some rather big players in this field that have their entire business model based on games- i.e. the games companies themselves. Giants such as France’s Gameloft, Britain’s King, and Electronic Arts in the U.S. clearly have far more budget and manpower to spend on developing state of the art games than the average business does, because that’s what they do, and that’s all they do. Nevertheless, experts are predicting an exponential increase in investment into the games market from big brands that have the cash to splash on developing eye-catching interactive downloads with which to entertain and, in the long run, sell their products to customers.
This is partly due to an expected rise in the amount spent by brands on mobile overall. Here in the UK, as per figures projected by the Financial Services Forum, there will be an average rise of 6% when it comes to the amount of funds set aside by brands for mobile investment. But perhaps more telling is the fact that by 2017 80% of brands surveyed will have a ‘gamified application’ either in development, or available to download via the Android Market or App Store.
Indicative of just how far video gamed have come over the last three decades or so- from the bedrooms of a niche market dominated by teenage boys and tech-boffin guys, to living rooms across the world (by November last year, Sony had shipped more than 13.5million PlayStation 4 consoles, for example)- it’s also worth noting that you don’t need an exorbitant injection of money in order to develop a game that manages to entice users to download.
Well, OK, so estimates on FanStudio.co.uk do place the price of creating a basic app at anywhere from £1,000 to £3,000, with games starting at £3,000. It all depends on the kind of functionality and features you’re looking for, how much the developers and designers charge, and the size of the actual product. Even so, though, when you compare these numbers to the average spend on a full-blown advertising campaign, things do start to look far more cost-effective, pointing to a concept that really should be taken seriously by anyone with an eye on making digital inroads this year.