Over the short term we have seen the rise of ‘freemium’ business models where the game is downloaded for free but incorporates micro-transactions and virtual currencies, encouraging users to unlock additional features, new levels and premium content.
In the longer run we will see ad-funded mobile games start to gain more traction as well.
Here at The App Studio we are particularly interested in developing games that can be used as powerful marketing tools for established brands. Users need a reason to download your app. Incorporating a game into it can be a powerful incentive.
At a recent Ad-Tech conference in San Francisco, one of the keynotes was given by the Chief Marketing Officer of Levi Strauss & Co, Jaime Cohen Suzlc who brought up the case study of car manufacturer Audi and what they did with a mobile game to help brand their company.
The Audi A4 Driving Challenge 2.0, which is a free download from the iTunes App Store, is played by holding the iPhone in landscape orientation. Thumbs are used to press the gas and brake buttons in the lower corners, while steering uses the iPhone’s accelerometers and is handled by twisting the device like a cars steering wheel. Players race the Audi A4 2.0T Quattro against the clock in a time trial style on any of five courses of increasing difficulty. Once all five courses have been cleared in the allocated time, the player is given the option to upgrade to the 3.2 Quattro model and subsequently the R8.
What Audi has done is a pretty good representation of what mobile apps and virtual games should be about for brands. It’s not about explicitly direct advertising of the A4 sedan, but you can have fun driving the car nevertheless. If you became enamored by the vehicle, then you would be inclined to go try out the physical product. Audi is not broadcasting “$5000 cash back or free dealer delivery” on the app. This mobile app could very well stand on its own as a game that people would play just to drive cars during some downtime.
Regardless of the intent, the purpose is clear: brand loyalty and awareness is being established. Players will not be driving non-Audi cars in the game and the company has complete control over the vehicle models that are offered.