JOYSTICK: Trophy unlocked: marketing pushPublished 5:00pm Saturday, April 16, 2011
I recently read about a start-up firm in California that’s offering coupons to gamers who score certain achievements on Android and Apple iPhone/iPod games. Although there isn’t a mention of advertisements on 360 achievements or PS3 trophies, it’s kind of a moot point.
Kiip, the Silicon Valley company that’s looking to give gamers coupons for doing well in a game, has opened yet another can of worms in the gaming world.
It’s no secret companies pay big dollars to get their products in games somehow, and this company’s got a spectacular advertising plan for big companies looking for market saturation.
There’s pretty much no better time to pitch a product to someone than when they’re feeling good, and giving coupons to players who’ve scored an impossible headshot or beat the final boss on expert difficulty is flat-out PR genius.
For years, we as a gaming culture have used achievements and trophies as measurements of self-worth as gamers.
People enjoy competition and I know I get a small sense of satisfaction when I see my trophy level or gamer score is higher than people I play with online.
This marketing move is going to rub many people the wrong way. There’s a lot of gaming purists out there who’d just as soon spit on a company for product placement as accept a coupon for playing a game they love. On the other hand, there’s going to be a ton people who’ll see getting coupons for achievements as an added bonus to playing games they’re already enjoyinig.
What it comes down to is a sense of purity in games.
Although games are an industry like any other, there’s a sense of passion between players and developers for games as a medium and as an artform, akin to the feeling sports fans and professional athletes get when talking about baseball, football, etc. Ads for achievements is going to permanently alter this dynamic.
I’m still not sure about the concept myself. I feel I should be rewarded for some daunting trophies, like playing more than 100 hours on Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, getting a perfect combo on Batman: Arkham Asylum or going through all the tedious kill trophies in Dead Space 2. At the same time, I can’t say I’m comfortable knowing that the feats developers want me to perform have been sponsored by Big Brother, who wants to give me a burger and fries with my hours of lazy playing.
Ads for achievements is a conversation worth having, just to see how receptive people are to seeing even more ads in their fun.
While people have started to lose interest in ad-filled Facebook games, would they do the same for AAA PC and console games?
Even more important, is there a line in the sand where gamers will say no to marketing, and where should that line be?