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September 5, 2011 / marvinhawkins

A Word on Advergames

About a month ago, I started a Linkedin post that asked a simple question: ‘Do Advergames Have to Suck?’ This question stemmed from a few different things. For starters, I work in a marketing field, and I love games. While the track record has not been stellar, I was excited by the possibility of using games as a marketing tool. However, upon exploring the current crop of games where a marketing message was the sole purpose, I came away somewhat wanting. I do not feel that this is the fault of the developers. Games are meant to be fun, most advertisement is meant to be disruptive. Most people don’t enjoy interuptions during their entertainment experience (I’m still at a loss for why they show commercials before the previews of an in theater movie.)When I talk about advergames, I am referring to games primarily for the purpose of marketing a product or service. For the purposes of this blog post, I am discounting games that simply feature ads (Think Free ‘Angry Birds’ with ad support)

I don’t think it is a stretch to say that most marketers don’t necessarily get the point of games. Its also difficult to comprehend how these marketing games would appeal to non gamers (IE Soccer Moms). It is certainly possible, to reach groups of non traditional gamers. Most advergames seem to appeal to no one. I found most of the advergame experiences to be light on gameplay and heavy on ads. Again, understandable, but not fun. As a gamer, the fun was just not there in many titles. As a consumer, I can’t say that the experience made be think about the brands presented. Perplexed, and still excited by the untapped opportunity, I put my question to the forums of LinkedIn. While some forum-goers agreed with me, others felt that advergames could never be good. This was mainly due to the reasons listed above. To be completely fair, I do think that experiences like Candystand.com are fantastic. My final conclusion was that if advertising was built around the core of a fun game, you’d have a fun advergame.

A few weeks later, I noticed that Kingston Technologies was conducting a game development contest. The rules were simple, make a game to promote their new product. I decided to put my theory to the test. I had only a few weeks to come up with a fun game that actually promoted the Wi Drive. I decided to keep the game simple, and a platformer was the best approach. The mascot platform game is a genre that appeals to many. I added shooting and enemies to give it more of a game feel. I also tied the marketing into the story.

The story: You play as a packet of data, who must collect the Wi Drives. The Wyred enemies seek to stop you, and slow down your data transferring. Get to the end of each level to win.

I also decided to put marketing around the game’s levels. Since I was under a deadline, I didn’t have a ton of time to add embellishments. If I had the project to do again, I would add a deeper integration of Kingston’s Materials. Not sure how, but I’d want it to remain an unobtrusive as possible. So was I successful? Does the game create awareness for the Kingston Brand through a fun interactive experience?  Play it, and let me know in the comments! (Requires an HTML5 Browser, Works best with Safari)

Instructions:

Left Arrow  = Move Left

Right Arrow = Move Right

Space Bar = Jump

Mouse Button = Shoot

Collect the bouncing Wi Drives to complete each level. Shoot the green Monsters.
http://e.gamesalad.com/play/38564

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