Games as Marketing: A Worthwhile Investment?

One of the social phenomena that has occurred as a result of the popularization of social networks and mobile computing is the democratization of game creation. Simple software tools allow creative people to quickly produce professional-level games, and social media outlets allow the quirkiest and most entertaining games to reach a huge audience at very low cost. Many gaming businesses focus their efforts on creating such games for the mobile and social network markets. However, some companies from a collection of industries are becoming increasingly interested in using free games as marketing tools.

Advantages Over Other Marketing Methods
While the use of social and mobile games certainly does not mean that companies should do away with other marketing tools, such games do have their advantages. For instance:

  • Games have viral marketing potential. Like Web videos, if they are entertaining or interesting, people will share them with each other.
  • Games are more engaging. Since players directly interact with the logos, philosophies, and product information presented in the game, they have a much higher tendency of remembering it.
  • Games convey a sense of legitimacy. Even if the game itself is silly, the fact that a company is capable of producing a game gives potential clients a feeling that the company is solid and trustworthy, as creating a game usually requires more effort and thought than creating a pay-per-click advertisement campaign.

Options for Game Creation
To create a game for your company,  you should weigh the options that are available on the market and see which is most suitable to your particular needs.

  • Conventional mobile app programming firms can create games for your company at varying degrees of cost and value. Legitimate mobile programmers can provide a highly detailed and specialized solution reflecting key aspects of your company’s marketing strategy. One market leader is Matmi New Media, Ltd.
  • GameSalad is the industry leader in game creation tools for non-programmers. The company allows people to use “drag-and-drop” tools to create games for the iPhone and Android markets, as well as for Web browsers. GameSalad is particularly beneficial because it supports in-app purchasing, which allows companies to sell their products to players in the middle of the game.
  • Scirra is a direct competitor for GameSalad, offering a similar game creation environment at a lower price.
  • Ansca Mobile provides a programming environment and marketing framework for mobile apps. Unlike GameSalad and Scirra, Ansca’s Corona app creation platform does require its users to learn code. However, it is simple enough that a novice can become proficient at it within a month.

While hiring a general mobile programmer to create a game for your company may result in the highest quality of product, it may not be the most cost-effective thing to do, as such a game can easily cost five digits to make. GameSalad and Scirra both offer limited free editions of their platforms that allow you to publish to mobile markets, social networks, and browser app stores. The premium options for GameSalad, Scirra, and Ansca Mobile cost only a few hundred per year (or possibly less, in the case of Scirra). If your company is able to create an engaging, creative, informative, and fun game on that and effectively implement it as part of a greater social media marketing strategy, such a game can bring a massive return on investment.