不论营销者或者中介机构是对此类游戏情有独钟，抑或是深恶痛绝，学会充分利用在线社交游戏带给品牌的影响力，无疑将使其受益匪浅。据英国National Gamers Survey 2月份发布的消息显示，英国2800万网民为在线游戏玩家，占总网民人数的67%，而其中有2000万用户通过手机设备体验游戏，除此之外，数据显示，Facebook用户将40%左右的时间花费于体验游戏，且19%的玩家称自己对社交游戏已经上瘾。
社交游戏领域新手We R Interactive希望能够效仿Zynga的成功之路，他们已推出自己的Facebook游戏。《I am Playr》是一款足球游戏，游戏假定玩家为虚拟球队River Park FC的成员。玩家可在Facebook平台下载该款游戏，自由出入比赛，甚至还可以同太太团（游戏邦注：太太团一般指随足球队参加比赛的球员的太太或女友，也指由已婚妇女组成的有统一目的的团体）成员约会。
Arianne Riddell（游戏邦注：其为We R Interactive的商业总监）表示，品牌公司携手开发公司潜力无限。这样一来，耐克就可以成为运动服装合作商，Ginsters成为T恤赞助商，而红牛可以成为饮料赞助商。玩家可以，例如购买红牛饮料为角色提供更多能量。Riddell表示，“对于那些产品瞄准16-34岁年长男性的品牌公司来说，这是个很好的切入方式。”
《I Am Playr》还处在初级阶段，游戏1月底就已进入测试阶段，Riddell表示他们希望玩家每天能够花30分钟左右体验游戏。
值得注意的是，大部分的社交玩家都是女性族群。Adam Yates（游戏邦注：其为在线游戏开发商Wild Tangent的广告销售总监）表示，“我们发现社交游戏玩家的平均年龄在35岁左右，且大部分为女性。”Yates认为，这可能是因为社交游戏以分享为主，且缺少竞争性，这两大特点自然会更多掳获女性玩家的芳心。“话虽如此，但社交游戏还是存在隐性竞争，因为它们涉及炫耀方面，因此将导致玩家和朋友相互竞争。”
Key trends to watch in social gaming
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you cannot fail to have noticed the phenomenal rise in popularity of online social games. Thanks to leader of the pack in the manufacturing of such games, Zynga, millions of Facebook users around the world now have a love/ hate relationship with the likes of Farmville, Mafia Wars and Bejeweled.
Love or hate games like this, as a marketer, or agency employee, you’re at a great advantage if you know how to leverage the opportunities online social gaming can provide to brands. According to a UK National Gamers Survey released in February, 28 million UK internet users are casual gamers – amounting to 67% of all internet users. A whopping 20 million of those use their mobile handsets to play games on, and more than 40% of time spent on Facebook is spent on playing social games. Nineteen per cent of game players even claim they are “addicted” to social games.
Stats like these might seem like proof of the pudding, but how does a brand decide on which way to approach the medium?
The Facebook effect
According to Kasia Zaniewska, strategy director at TBWA, looking at ways to host games on existing third party platforms is by far the easiest – and cheapest way to leverage social gaming opportunities. And good news, it can be one of the most effective ways too – if by ‘third party platform’ you read ‘Facebook’. “To create a simple game [on Facebook] costs about the same amount as you would pay to develop an app for the site – and that can cost anything between 10k and 200k,” she says. “To develop your own gaming platform would be a lot, lot more expensive.” (You might think you want to own the platform – but look at how successful Zynga has become by allowing its games to be hosted on the social networking giant’s pages).
Relative newcomer to the social gaming space We R Interactive is hoping to emulate some of Zynga’s success having launched its very own game into the Facebook space. I am Playr is a football game, designed to be played by users as if they are the player in fictional team River Park FC. Players download the app within Facebook and dip in and out when they please to train, play matches and even date WAGS.
The potential for brands to become involved in this kind of set up is enormous, says Arianne Riddell, We R Interactive’s commercial director. In this case Nike is the sportswear partner, Ginsters the shirt sponsor and Red Bull the drinks sponsor. Players can, for example, purchase virtual Red Bull to give their player more energy on the pitch. “This a great way for all of these brands want to reach a 16 – 34 year old male audience on a regular basis,” says Riddell.
It’s early days for I Am Playr, which has been in beta since late January – but Riddell says the aim is to have players engage with the game for around 30 minutes per day.
Credits and currency
Twenty-three per cent of gamers say they are more likely to buy a brand that has sponsored or advertised on a social game, and 18% said they would click on an ad to gain a reward.
“This is what is known as contextual advertising”, explains Andy Rogers, MD of social gaming business, Enteraction. “Imagine you create a game where say, in between levels, you can place an ad, and if a user clicks on that ad they’re rewarded with game credits that help them through the next level,” he explains. “This is a great way to create engagement and brand reach.”
The use of currency within mobile games is also a hot topic right now, and something, says Zaniewska, that is still at an “experimental stage” for most brands. Bu take US convenience store 7-Eleven as an example of a brand that has established how to monetise active integration with social gaming, using virtual currency to stimulate the handing over of real money in-store. Last year, it partnered with alternative payment firm, Kwedit, so that gamers could buy virtual goods within a game, then pay for them later in-store by printing out a paper invoice with a bar code on it. The bar code is scanned at the till and payment accepted.
Social gamers are female
It’s worth noting that the majority of social gamers have been found to be female. “We’ve found that the median age for social gamers is 35, and that they are mostly female,” says Adam Yates, advertising sales director at online games developer Wild Tangent. This, says Yates, is most probably down to the fact that social games are shared ones and typically, designed to be non-competitive – both traits that by nature appeal more to the female conscience. “Having said that, they actually are implicitly competitive because a lot of it is about showing off, which makes your friends then want to compete with you.” (Think Bejeweled scores displaying in Facebook feeds, for example).
“There is no doubt that social gaming is moving at an incredible pace,” Yates adds. “Cityville achieved something like 80 to 90 million uniques users in the space of a few months, which is astonishing. We are now a nation of social gamers.”
With news out only this week that revenue generated by Facebook embedded games alone will rise from $1bn last year to £5bn by 2015 (according to market research company Park Associates), the opportunities for display, sponsorship and engagement within this medium look set to be huge.（Source：Utalkmarketing）