When will brands get game?

I have been saying for quite some time that the future of the communication fields rests in the realm of gaming. Nothing could be truer with the rising popularity of gaming on the iPhone. Brands are jumping on the bandwagon by creating games that push their own products. We have all the leading automotive brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and Mazda all pushing iPhone games that feature their own cars in them. Chevrolet has gone one step further with its Chevy Baseball iPhone app. A step away from the norm of driving games from automotive brand and straight into the sports realm. Makes sense if you think about it. Baseball is almost a national sport in Chevy’s primary market. What’s the problem with this picture though? It’s heavily biased towards the casual gaming and doesn’t cater to serious gamers. A market that is seriously growing. Just walk into a bookstore or CD shop and you can’t help to notice the growing stock of computer games available. The latest ones too! Today India is privy to worldwide gaming releases from some distributors.

What is yet to take off in full swing though is brand and game associations. Brands often fail to capitalise on PC gaming as an excellent platform to connect with a young target audience. Brands experimenting with gaming to connect with the youth take tentative steps only. Brands such as these opt for online games on microsites and Facebook. Which in truth is all that they could probably afford considering the millions it takes to build an award winning game these days. Yet brands should think of partnering with game developers to say the least.

An excellent hypothetical example would have been if a sports shoe brand like Nike or Reebok had tied up with Electronic Arts and Dice for the game Mirrors Edge. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, Mirrors Edge was a first person, freestyle running game. As the protagonist Faith, the player is literally running for their life. As a result of the camera angles used and the situations depicted you can’t fail to notice the player’s shoes every now and then. The game was revolutionary as the emphasis was solely on running and not mowing down characters on screen. A relief to mothers who squirm at their kids touting rail guns in the likes of Unreal Tournament (a multiplayer game from Epic Games). But diehard gamers didn’t take to it well. Still at the end of the day Mirror’s Edge I am sure has its own cult following. A following that could have been induced to literally tread in Faith’s footsteps by picking up a pair of sneakers from a particular brand. Opportunity lost? You tell me.

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