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Opinion: The new reality for brands and video games

The successful, non-intrusive deployment of in-game advertising and product placement has been the Holy Grail of video games publishers for longer than this writer can remember.

Plenty have tried and plenty have failed. Some have succeeded. Probably the most prevalent execution in today’s market is the free-to-play ad-supported models found in countless mobile games.

It works, but as a publisher or developer you need huge volumes of downloads for it become a meaningful revenue stream. Plus, it’s a clunky user experience that can obscure the lovely game you’ve created. And, well, it’s just not that compelling, creatively, for brands.

However, we’re at a point when several technologies are coming together serendipitously to create an environment where publishers can offer brands real consumer engagement that is presented with a light touch to the end-user and, indeed, enhances the gameplay experience.

At its most simplistic level, augmented reality (AR) advertising/brand placement, especially in mobile games, will produce better results for both consumers and brands.

For the consumer, they will be entertained, and enjoy engagement with an innovative use of tech. For brands, it offers another communication channel, increased brand awareness and better engagement with consumer.

If you combine AR with location-based technology, which takes gamers to locations that offer them in-game incentives in real world locations, then those benefits are amplified for the advertisers/brands and the venues featured (accurate data, increased footfall into retail locations).

Then, if you mix in a little VR, it’s also possible to offer brands and advertisers real estate within game worlds – something that’s been tried countless times but becomes even more significant when user immersion and location is added to the mix.

We’re working on a mobile AR combat game, Reality Clash, for iOS and Android devices that offers all of the above and then some (more on that later). The conversations we’re having with brands are focussed on helping them spread awareness via the game, while not disrupting play or hassling the user. Whether it’s through special tournaments with prizes from brands, or just through in-game placements using cool AR features, we’re exploring it all.

But there’s more. Our platform also leverages the blockchain – and it’s this element over all others that will positively disrupt how games and brands work together. First and foremost, the blockchain offers transparency to all parties – brands can trust what is an open platform, while players can be rewarded easily, they can engage in the in-game economy and profit from their endeavours.

The blockchain enables players to actually own any virtual items they accrue while playing the game. Branded in-game gear, for example a Coca Cola hat for a character, become real tokenised assets that can be traded outside of the game, hopefully for profit to the seller (especially if the branded item is limited edition).

This mechanic opens up more exciting brand partnership possibilities, even to the point where branded items could be traded across – and used in – different games from different publishers.

And you don’t have to wait long to see all of this in action – Reality Clash goes into public beta this Autumn. These technologies and models are real and they’re happening now – will your brand be part of the story?

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent some six years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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