Informal gaming: a missed alternative for promoting businesses

Not long ago, you may have noticed that the people around you got taped to their phones on their way to work, and many of them were playing "casual games". A lockdown and subsequent changes due to the pandemic means more people are working from home or looking for work from home. Game time for the regular shuttle service hasn't stopped, just changed location and the number of players has increased. This is a great opportunity that advertising agencies need to seize right now as these habits are likely to persist.

Hyper-casual gaming has increased during the pandemic, and although the number of gamers on consoles and dedicated handheld devices has also increased, people are also turning to their familiar mobile devices for distraction and fun.

According to a study by AppAnnie in August, the casual game category grew 45% in the first half of the year. This means that while some gamers have a nice console with huge games to explore, the convenience and breadth of options on mobile phones still attract consumers. If you reverse this vision, casual games can turn non-gamers into gamers because of the low barrier to entry. According to the report, spending on mobile games will guide desktop and console gaming. So the question remains: Why isn't adland with all of these players and meet them where they are increasingly?


While players appreciate the exchange of values ​​from ads, IGA (in-game advertising) is terrible in hyper-casual and mobile games. It's ugly, cheap-looking, time-consuming content that makes players hardly look like a timer is either counting down on a transaction – watching a game to earn an extra life – or in some cases stepping on water before they get to the game they started up to play.

In a whitepaper on ad formats in mobile games (commissioned by Facebook) earlier this year, 79% of developers said rewarded video ads are the most successful format. Display, video, carousel, and playable ads also have their place, but the interruptions, while not intrusive, last around 30 seconds. These parameters don't explain why the ads are still boring, ugly and just a break for the players.

We work at a time when UX is key and the experience of seeing an ad on your phone in the middle of a game that lasts 30 seconds when you only have five minutes to play is a terrible experience. We are a creative industry so we need to work to make this a better experience and get more brands into the area. Millions of players around the world download and open these games. So in this area we should find better ways to get in touch with these players.

We are a creative industry so we need to work to make this a better experience and get more brands into the area

Investments have of course already been made in the larger gaming sectors. The big console games see experimentation with TV ads in-game, and many brands have popped up in runaway hit games like Animal Crossing or New Horizons. These games are designed to make tokens and items appear as part of the game, as a feature, rather than an interruption. Casual games seem to be more difficult to crack, but as console games show, engaging with the game's existing theme is a step in the right direction without disrupting the experience.

Take a head start from the consoles

Big gaming brands show us the way to immersive, intelligent, and fun branded experiences. Nintendo partnered with Mercedes-Benz to offer the GLA SUV as an in-game playable kart, and then added a tournament for players who downloaded the vehicle for added fun. Epic Games partnered with the NFL to provide themed themes and even a referee outfit that blended online and offline action for entertainment.

Fortnite was not only a runaway success in terms of the number of players it played, but it was also a shining example of how to make branding fun and relevant. When Fortnite opened up "Food Fight" options, Wendy & # 39; s saw the opportunity to step into the virtual world with his messages – against the frozen beef (Wendy's known to be fresh) and the attack on freezers until she did removed from the game and influenced an ecosystem of thousands of players who join in and talk about the brand they met where they play.

The most important things you can learn from these examples are that they are playable, interesting, and not intrusive. They can disrupt the conversation, but they don't interfere with the games. If anything, they are designed to improve the game. This is why getting to know games, gamers, and gaming influencers is so important when it comes to taking on the challenge and making branding a success in this area.


I think the problem here is that too many agencies have got stuck in the past. I'm not interested in what happened back then. What is happening now is the indicator of where we need to be in the years to come. Agencies need to work on innovation and content that provides little and frequent news in games that are picked up several times a week. Getting into this area is critical for agencies hoping to be relevant in the next decade.

Too many agencies are stuck in the past. I'm not interested in what happened then. What is happening now is the indicator of where we need to be

When agencies show so little invention in this space, or in other areas where the digital audience naturally congregates, they risk turning the work off to creatives who can work directly with brands. The agency that offers these days has to think really boldly and acknowledge that sectors like hyper-casual gaming are not marginal.

The App Annie study shows that there has clearly been a change in behavior towards these games. They might fit in between Zoom meetings when you are working from home and no one in your office can see you to assess you. But once that habit has grown to this volume, it will likely continue when people are called back to their offices. Now is the time to experiment with getting into this arena. Perhaps today, between meetings, it's time to open an app, give yourself ten minutes to play, and think about what you'd like to see in that area.

Wayne Deakin is ECD EMEA at Huge;