6 things to consider before commissioning a game

We've pulled together a few things to think about before you push the button.

Posted by Cari on 19.07.16

You want a game and are pretty certain that your audience would love one; you might even already have an idea about what that game could be? Before you start, there are a few things you should consider…

1. Are you doing all you can in your existing marketing efforts?

While a game can be a very powerful extra tool in your marketing mix, it’s important to remember that games are not a magic bullet. Simply putting a game on your website is unlikely to bring lots of new customers flooding in. It needs to be built to complement your existing social, content and/or direct marketing so if your organisation isn’t regularly doing any of those, a game probably isn’t going to work for you. You need to have the right channels in place so that when the time comes to launch a game you can ensure you can give it the best possible kick-start.

2. Do you want to create an experience or an advert?

Great content should appeal to the audience first and foremost. As marketers, when creating that content we should be asking ourselves:

What questions, interests or desires am I addressing with this? The same is true for games, but some marketers will think of branded games as nothing more than an interactive advert and feel the need to put their product front and centre of the experience. Consumers are already suspicious of brands in their entertainment space and don’t really appreciate intrusive advertising, if you’re not careful, you may end up giving them a negative experience of your brand rather than a positive one. First and foremost, it’s a game, it needs to be fun and playable; while we’re on that…

3. How comfortable with the theme of death are you?

This might sound like an odd question, bear with me though. Sometimes we’ll start working on a game with a client, we’ll settle on an idea, everyone will think it’s great, and we may have even started building it, when we are asked the question: “Could  the main character NOT die?” The client realise that they’re not that comfortable with the theme of death being associated with their brand (no matter how obscurely, we’re not talking gruesome blood baths here). But death, loss & jeopardy are at the heart of many game genres; the sense of danger is after all, what makes them fun! The problem is, if you take a game genre that is built around this danger and then remove it, it’s not going to be much fun to play. Issues like these can be resolved of course, so it’s important to make sure that you go with a genre and theme that suits your brand, as well as your audience. This brings us to…

4. Who are your audience?

Is your product or service mainly intended for men in their 20s? Or women in their 60s? Generally speaking these groups tend to like playing different sorts of games and the genre of game you choose is very important in terms of holding their attention.

5. How much do you want to spend? (And how long have you got to build it?)

Arguably the most important question, your budget will dictate whether the project is bespoke, or based on something that already exists. A large scope, bespoke game can take a long time to develop and obviously, the more man hours it takes to build, the more costly it’s likely to be. Many clients are initially worried about revealing their budgets; this is understandable as we all want to feel like we are getting our money’s worth but because games can take some time to develop there is often a disparity between a client’s expectation of what their budget will buy them and what is actually achievable.

6. What are your goals for the game?

What are you trying to achieve? More social followers, newsletter sign ups, increased engagement, brand loyalty or to stand out from the competition? It’s important to answer these strategic questions up front, they can inform the content and elements to include in a game, ensuring that success is accurately measured against your objectives. Offering something in return can help achieve these goals. Appealing to our competitive nature, offering leader boards and incentives to share your score on social sites encourages replay and revisits. For more ideas on the kinds of prizes you could be offering, head over to our Case Studies page and have a look at what our clients have offered up during their branded game competition campaigns.

There you have it…

Consider carefully where a game fits into your wider marketing plan, who’s it for and what would they like to play? What do you want to get out of your game in relation to your strategy and how much do you have to invest? These are all important points to think about and can be easily overlooked in the excitement of commissioning a new game – and it is exciting, but as with all the elements in your marketing comms plan, they need to be the right fit and asking these questions will make sure you get a game that works for you and your audience.

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