索尼影像推出社交游戏Day X Exists为新电影《salt》做推广
在观众逐渐厌烦电视广告、户外广告等传统样式视觉轰炸疲劳后，用什么样的新鲜玩意吸引用户是至关重要的~Sony Pictures（索尼影像）从zynga的facebook游戏Mafia Wars（黑手党枪战）获得了灵感，Mafia Wars有数千万的活跃用户，Sony Pictures期待能做出和电影同步的社交游戏来吸引用户关注电影本身。
索尼的这款游戏名是Day X Exists，主要是为其电影《Salt》打前站，时间7月23日，主演安吉丽娜-朱莉。
Sony Pictures has been hard at work on a project with a complex script about spies and terrorists, filming on location and using props that include a rented airplane.
Is it the studio’s latest blockbuster in the making? Not even close. The undertaking is a nine-week “episodic online game” created by Sony marketers to stir audience interest in “Salt,” a forthcoming Angelina Jolie thriller.
The game, titled Day X Exists, is a series of Web episodes and companion challenges that reveal an important plot line. Sony will unveil a new installment each week starting Monday on dayxexists.com. “It’s a supersophisticated game, but done in a way that a casual player can understand,” said Marc Weinstock, Sony’s marketing president.
Pity the hoary television ad, billboard and trailer. As studio marketers try harder to use technology to advertise movies, ambitious Web games that interlock with social networking sites are an increasing focus. With Day X Exists, Sony hopes to mimic the viral success of Facebook games like Mafia Wars, which is played by tens of millions of people.
The goal is to reverse the consumer-advertiser relationship. Traditional marketing pushes a message over and over. If people instead pull bits of information into their lives through a game, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership.
“That makes them talk about it, share it, evangelize it,” said Elan Lee, a co-founder of Fourth Wall Studios, a pioneer in the games-as-marketing field that has worked with Paramount Pictures.
Studios have been using simple Web games to sell their wares for a decade — press the space bar and a character kicks something. More ambitious alternate-reality games, a genre that blends online and offline clues and relies on players collaborating to solve puzzles, have also been successful in reaching what studios call “alpha fans” (the boys in the basement). Walt Disney Studios deployed one for its forthcoming “Tron: Legacy.”
Don’t confuse these efforts with retail games based on movies (Iron Man 2 for the Nintendo). Marketing-driven games are free and expected to fade away after a movie’s release.
On the way now, as evidenced by Day X Exists, are games that feature complex narratives and depth, but do not require a master’s degree to figure out. Women in particular are a focus.
“Salt,” which stars Ms. Jolie as a sexy secret agent named Evelyn Salt, probably does not have to work hard to attract men, but women are another story. By Sony’s estimation, some 65 million women in the United States play casual games.
“It’s really misunderstood that women don’t play,” said Amy Powell, Paramount’s executive vice president for interactive marketing strategy and film production. “You cannot underestimate that audience segment.”
The ubiquity of GPS-enabled smartphones has also presented an opportunity for games to raise ticket sales. Marketers call the tactic location-based gaming. Say an iPhone game designed to promote a movie comes with an added element — an exclusive level that you can use only inside a theater on opening weekend.
“That really closes the loop from a digital marketing perspective because we’re actually driving people into seats,” said Jason Yim, the founder of Trigger, a digital marketing agency that counts Lucasfilm and Cartoon Network as clients.
All of this activity wins studios points for forward thinking, but to what degree is it actually increasing ticket sales? Hard to say, Mr. Yim said, but the usage is far higher than most people realize. Successful movie games get over a million plays, with some soaring to 10 million, he said, adding that movie-related iPhone apps can be downloaded in “the high hundreds of thousands of times.”
The downside of devotees is just that — they are sophisticated and can spot games that exist only to sell something, said Oren Aviv, Disney’s former president for production and marketing.
“The challenge is to make these kinds of efforts feel organic,” Mr. Aviv said. “It has to be an experience in and of itself that is powerful enough that people will forget that they are being marketed to.”
Ms. Powell pointed to another trap: designing digital campaigns that are too advanced for the general population to grasp. “As excited as we are about new technology, you have to remember that general moviegoers, general consumers just want something fun and entertaining,” she said.
To get it right, companies like Trigger begin work years before a movie’s release. When Sony hired Trigger to create an alternate-reality game for “District 9,” the science-fiction thriller released last August, the studio brought Mr. Yim’s team into the process while the script was still being written.
The objective of Day X Exists involves stopping an unspecified terrorist threat called Day X. Evelyn Salt appears to be partly responsible, but she secretly contacts players and asks for their help in proving her innocence. As the game unfolds, it becomes clear that the agent is not quite who she claims to be.
“Who is Salt?” is the tagline that forms the center of the broader marketing campaign for the film, which arrives in theaters on July 23 though Sony’s Columbia Pictures unit. The trailer has been edited to leave her identity a mystery, and billboards asking the question are already popping up. The last installment of the game gives the answer.
Day X Exists — the “missions” ask players to bug suspects, track enemy operatives and decrypt messages — will be translated into 12 languages and introduced in 18 countries. Sony created the game with Hoodlum, an Australian developer of multiplatform content; Yahoo Movies is a sponsor.
“We’re excited about it because the layers of the movie fit with the layers of the game,” said Mr. Weinstock of Sony. “Hopefully, it will bring people into the story line in a complementary way.”