It seemed like a natural choice for me to create an interactive Flash dress-up game for the Isabella and Friends license, given the fact that the target demographic would be young girls, but this experiences prompted the larger question: could free videogames be part of a larger marketing plan?
To answer that question, it is easy to consider the biggest toy companies around. Mattel’s website has several different free online games for kids, and the Lucas Film website has a few free games available promoting the Clone Wars franchise. There are plenty of other companies that target children, including everything from entertainment franchises to cereal manufactures that have simple free-to-play video games available on their websites. However, can this idea be applied to businesses that are not entertainment related and do not specifically target young audiences?
The answer is yes. In fact, if you broaden your search and stretch the definition of a game slightly, you can find many mainstream examples of free-to-play videogames as part of marketing strategies. Car companies will often include driving games, architectural firms allow you to build your dream home using a simulator, while some fashion designers have apps, similar to the Isabella and Friends game, that allow you to play a dress-up game with their designer clothing on your phone.
So, do these companies create these games just because they think they would be fun? Not entirely. These free-to-play videogames allow the businesses to engage with customers on a completely new level that conventional marketing techniques cannot reach. Not only are the customers entertained; they are often virtually interacting with your products and services.
Sometimes these free-to-play games can familiarize the customer with your products in a way that makes the difference between closing a sale or not. For example, a sunglass designer provides a free app on their site that allows customers to upload their pictures and then virtually try on different pairs of sunglasses. This allows the customers to try out the product, and possible decide to purchase based on the experience. Also, individuals will find themselves returning to the site, and recommending it to their friends, just to have fun playing with the dress-up app. As they spend more time on the site, they are more likely to become loyal customers.
Once you have decided to launch a free-to-play game for your marketing strategy, you will want to enlist an agency that has familiarity and experience with developing this software. While the games may be somewhat simple, their creation is not for the faint of heart. You can save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and headache by seeking the assistance of a qualified and knowledgeable game designer.
To see the Isabella and Friends dress up game, click here.