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Got Game? My Advergame Hall of Fame!

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Gaming, like almost everything else in life is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration and in order to evangelize advergaming, it’s time to serve up some of inspirational Kool-Aid!

So here are my favorite advergames – you will notice not all conform to the paradigms and concepts that I have blogged in previous posts about.

That just proves I am a real open-minded guy with a larger world view (cough! <modesty break> cough!)

Enough, here are my top 5, in no order of ranking:

1. Adidas Teamgeist

The marketing context:

Adidas Germany are the official kit sponsors of the German football team and with the 2010 World Cup looming they wanted a digital campaign around both the national team and the event.

The gameplay:

After some killer graphic novel style intros (cut scenes) the simplistic turn-based gameplay of Teamgeist may leave gamers cold but that is missing the point – this is not a FIFA or a Bola! Read on…

I love it because:

It should remind all game designers and gamers that games are fundamentally interactive narratives. Stripped of all the geewhiz graphics, physics, and controls it is the story that must engage a player at an emotional level.

Adidas Teamgeist

Teamgeist does a fantastic job of creating an epic heroic premise – the player has to save the identity of the Die Mannschaft – the German team (and by implication the nation ) by going back into time and winning key World Cup matches – and marrying it with excellent graphics and production values, that is the hallmark of the Swedish Studio that produced it, North Kingdom.

2. Get the Glass – California Milk Processor Board

The marketing context:

The California Milk Processor Board (yeah not your typical brand!) ran a highly successful advocacy campaign called Got Milk? in 2006. In 2007 they wanted to sustain that with a game – Get the Glass was born.

The gameplay:

The Adachi Family needs milk – actually it needs a glass of milk. So the family starts on a quest to “Get the Glass”. It must do so through the overarching gameplay of a board game where you roll the die and move ahead on a board. Based on where you land you then get to play mini-games of different kinds – puzzles, skill games, arcade, all the time taking care not to get into trouble – which means jail for the family at the aptly named Milkatraz !

I love it because:

Oh! Where to start! Get the Glass did for Advergames what Top Gun did for Tom Cruise. First, the background of a family – the target group might be children but it’s the parents who are the decision makers and influencers. Second, to choose a simple but familiar board game mechanic, what do most families play together – board games! Third, fantastic 3D art assets embedded in flash – if it looks good then it must be good seems to be Swedish studio North Kingdom’s premise and one can’t fault them.

A tactical advergame that became a strategic advergame with bulletin boards and walkthrough pages dedicated to it. 4 million visits with 9 minutes of average time spent is some achievement!

3. The Great Piggybank Adventures -T Rowe Price

The marketing context:

Financial Education is a key marketing theme for many banking/financial services companies and catch ‘em young seems to have been T Rowe Price’s mantra when it wanted to do a game for kids aged, 8-14.

The gameplay:

Again, use of a simple board game mechanic and players embarking on a quest from one region to another. Only this time around you would have different goals and making decisions about money would be critical in meeting those goals. Answering financial trivia question cards and playing mini-games gets you closer to your goals.

I love it because:

Most advergames are hosted on exclusive sites – you have to go there to play them. Marketing a game is as or perhaps even more difficult than building one. Why kill yourself and not fish where the fish are? The Great Piggybank Adventure game piggybacked on the Disney platform – both offline at the Epcot centre as well as online on the Disney site. Excellent partnering and ecosystem creation is why this game gets my vote!

Did I mention this is from North Kingdom as well? Seriously, not wanting a job with them. See the next entry!

4. Disrespectoids – Capri Sun/Kraft

The marketing context:

Capri Sun’s fruit juice drink for kids  had a USP – it was in a pouch. Ad agency Ogilvy and Mather focused on this unique attribute with a mass media campaign “Don’t disrespect the Pouch.” The Disrespectoids game was the digital dimension of this campaign.

The gameplay:

Casual mini-games with each game having its own gameplay. You can choose from a bunch of neighborhood urchins – Fred, Louie, Chuck and Betty being a few of them. The gameplay ranges from an obstacle race in the Bobblehead Fred mini-game to a physics type shooter in the Boing Boing Betty mini-game.

I love it because:

5 of the 6 Mini-games are independent (the 6th you unlock with achievements in the other games) so you aren’t forced to play ones you may not like to get to the ones that you do. Yet, there is common impish and prankish undertone to them which fits brilliantly with the overall brand attribute and ties the different games together.

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Excellent graphics and production values which go a long way to make gamers take such games seriously. There is also a leader board so you can beat your friends score or even aim to be the top player overall.

5. America’s Army – U.S. Army

The marketing context:

Uncle Sam wants you! The official explanation for the game that can be found on its website is that it provides an opportunity for US citizens to explore a career in the U.S. Army.

I guess if you are a military arm of the US government you can always do with some positive PR in any case! Launched symbolically on July 4, 2002 the game has had upwards of 32 million dollars invested in it.

The gameplay:

First Person Collaborative Multiplayer team-based shooter. Given the breadth and depth of the mission that the U.S. Army performs all over the globe, the player has a huge choice. As missions are completed, one gains skills and abilities and of course gets promoted.

The Unreal engine that powers the game provides the player with all the weapon effects, physics and controls that would make the game seem real life.

I love it because:

America’s Army is the best possible example of a strategic game property and the impact it can have on your target audience. Huge money has been spent for sure, and many companies may not be able to afford such investments but with 10 million registered accounts, I would say money well spent.

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The multiplayer – and there are enough people on the game servers any time of day – of course is what makes the gameplay rich and unique.

This is a serious advergame for a serious gamer.

So has your organization ever commissioned an advergame? Do send me a link to it! Which are your favorite advergames? Comments are open!

  1. […] It’d be just like kissing your sister – no fun and you wouldn’t do it again! If you want to deliver a full-fledged game experience then do something on these lines. […]

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