Gaming used to be for nerds. With the advent of mobile technology and the onslaught of pop culture, you’re now a nerd if you don’t play. Enter Angry Birds, a cult mobile game that draws about two million monthly users into a world of slinging “tiny, brightly hued birds at wooden fortresses to vanquish pigs taking shelter inside.”
Developer Rovio just followed up on the heralded success of Angry Birds with Bad Piggies – which by the way has redeemed me from former nerd to somewhat cool. Bad Piggies caught my attention when my toddler was rifling through my Kindle while I was knee deep in work. Ignoring that he’d long moved on from his toddler-friendly app to just about anything, he caught my attention when an irresistibly addictive song filled my ears. It was Bad Piggies. It was hooked. I evaded Farmville and then Angry Birds, but surrendered to Bad Piggies.
One way or another, online gaming finds you even if you think you’re otherwise above it. With it, you’re also caught by the slew of ads that come with the free versions. But why are there so many more gamers now even though gaming has been around for decades?
The answer is mobile technology…with a sprinkle of new forms of online media. We no longer need to go to games; games come to us. They find us on social media or within app forums we’re already surfing through. The fact that they’re available on tablets and smart phones means we can keep busy while going about our daily life – whether we’re on the subway, waiting in line, killing time some other way or stuck visiting family. It’s convenient to access, and it’s convenient to get in and get out.
I strongly suspect convenience and mobile application is precisely the reason why World of Warcraft lost about 2 million subscribers between 2010 and 2011, whittling it’s 12 million strong list of guild members down to 10 million. A huge loss.
Why Gaming Works
People are competitive and curious by nature, luring them into a world where they get to raze farms, attack pigs, work to steal treasure. This brings us to another reason; people like escape from real life and gaming offers that. Gaming turns hum-drum daily tasks into something fun and calculable, which is why gaming task manager Mindbloom is soaring in success. “Tech companies, online publishers, and even scientific researchers are increasingly using the principles of video games to keep their users more engaged,” in a process now called “gamification.”
How You Can Get in on This
Some companies are teaming up with developers to implement free plug-ins that help users get more out of their product. Microsoft took this approach with Ribbon Hero, joining up with Xbox team members to create essentially a tool to help users excel in Microsoft. In this case, gaming works because it makes doing work fun. The same principle can be applied to make something dreaded not that dreaded anymore.
Games don’t need to be that complicated. Take a look at Sephora’s new rewards and freebies game. Implementing a gaming strategy into your business doesn’t need to be difficult, though it works best on a business to consumer basis rather than a business to business platform. All you need are a few tips on how to design your game and a company to help you implement it.
Recall the ads I couldn’t ignore while playing Bad Piggies? That’s yet another way to get in on online gaming. If you can’t produce a game, you can be an advertiser on an existing game. In-game advertising is still relatively un-tapped outside of directly correlating industries, but I expect it’ll catch on more next year with full immersion across all industries by 2014. Why wait till 2014 when the market will be saturated; why not start now?