Not too long ago, social media and the video game industry remained largely separate, and well able to attract and satisfy customers without collaboration. However, the line between those two popular industries seems to be getting more blurred by the day.
Let's look at how we got to this point, and how social media and gaming might rely on each other even more in the future.
The First Meeting of Social Media and Gaming Happened by Accident
There are many conscious efforts made by marketing departments to create the conditions needed for successful cross-promotion. The early minglings of social media and video games may have been partially intentional, but the massive user response couldn't have been predicted. Everything started with interactive browser-based Facebook games like Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars and of course, FarmVille.
Social media executives were searching for ways to keep users logged in and engaged. Encouraging that to happen with games seemed like a good solution. What happened next was fueled by the players themselves.
Competitive streaks came to the forefront. Game developers and social media representatives quickly discovered how players not only loved to play against one another, but also liked the bragging rights that came with getting high scores or passing a particularly tough level.
Marketers Unveil Freemium Content
It didn't take long for savvy marketers to realize many players were so intent on doing well in the games and sharing their accomplishments in Facebook feeds that they'd be willing to pay to gain an advantage.
Enter freemium content. It allowed everyone to play the games for free, but offered extra paid content to help players do better than they might otherwise. Not only did that appeal to the games' die-hard fans, but it fostered interactions between players, and some might say, kept them coming back for more, day after day.
Are These Games Feeding Addictive Habits?
Online data, such as that featured in this infographic warns that video games alone can be addictive. Combine that reality with the widespread lure of social media platforms and it should be easy to see that the blending of social media and gaming is great for marketing reasons, but may not be so wonderful for some members of the population, especially if they are already prone to addiction.
Experts say video games let people embrace their individuality, help them feel competent and also make them able to relate to other gamers. Those three perks could keep a person so hooked that he or she hardly does anything except play during any free moment.
Although not everyone who plays browser-based video games gets addicted to them, people who have low self-esteem or are very impulsive may be at a higher risk for developing problems.
Video Game Marketing Has Evolved
Most industries have to go through consistent changes in order to survive, and gaming is no exception. The way games were marketed in the past is no longer sufficient. There are new rules to be followed, and many of them involve using multiple media channels so even casual gamers can hardly ignore when hot new titles get released.
Also, word of mouth has helped promote games for decades, but now social media makes it even easier for opinions to be published quickly and have a global reach. People can easily say what they think about new games via Twitter posts and Facebook feeds, but proactive gaming companies can also try to shape conversations by publishing social media content.
History has shown us how gaming was discovered as an effective way to keep people logged into their social media accounts. Unless you've tweaked your Facebook preferences to turn game notifications off, you're probably well aware of how that's still the case. FarmVille remains popular, and new options like Candy Crush Saga have captivated users too.
It seems likely social media and video game marketers will continue to play off of each other's strengths for mutual benefits. Hopefully things will be kept in check so that goals are achieved and target audiences are reached, but not at the expense of luring people so severely that individuals push real-life obligations aside, all to try and beat Facebook friends at online games.
Image by m01229