The key to developing successful mobile games for major brands is to focus on quality and understand the objectives of the companies in question.
That’s according to Kristien Wendt, partner and head of client services at branded mobile game developer Proelios, who talked to Mobile World Live about his company’s experiences of working with the likes of Volkswagen Group, Coca Cola and Barclaycard.
Wendt’s company is behind ‘BarclayCard Water Slide Extreme’, which is claimed to be the most successful branded mobile game ever with 45 million downloads – and which still attracts 87,000 daily players five years after its launch.
More recently, the company launched ‘Sports Car Challenge 2’ (pictured) for Volkswagen, in which players can take virtual test drives of various cars around famous race circuits.
The huge growth in mobile games means brands are keen to have a presence in the space as “they want to be where consumers are”, according to Wendt.
Mobile games are seen as way for brands to connect with consumers which may lead to business further down the line, Wendt explained. “Gaming has greater engagement than any other kind of app,” he noted.
“Ultimately if you ask us what makes us a success, it’s that we make high quality games. If we get the game right, people will stay engaged and connect,” he continued.
It is critical to have an understanding of what a client wants to achieve with its mobile game. “We have to first and foremost have a brief of the objectives brands have,” Wendt said.
And with finer points of mobile gaming not always well understood, Proelios ensures brands grasp the nature of the medium and how they can get value from mobile games before progressing projects.
Volkswagen Group’s initial aim with ‘Sports Car Challenge’, for example, was to tap into the higher echelons of Chinese society, a potentially lucrative market for the company’s high-end brands such as Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Audi.
The first version of the game met these goals but also took off globally, following the introduction of an English language version which resulted in 12 million downloads and 100,000 dealership visits attributed to the game.
After 10 weeks of availability, the second version has seen five million virtual test drives, resulting in one million visits to the VW website and 25,000 dealership enquiries.
Wendt acknowledges that working with big-name brands boosts the exposure given to the mobile games made by Proelios: “Millions would need to be spent to get the engagement of brands,” he said.
But their success would be limited if they weren’t of sufficient quality, so a lot of work and resources also goes into making branded mobile games.
To develop mobile games to a level where they will make a significant impact, Proelios games take between four and six months to plan and develop — something that is important to convey to customers at the outset, Wendt noted.
Previous approaches brands may have taken, such as TV commercials, are likely to have had a much quicker turnaround, so the longer lead time for mobile games is a major difference.
Clients must also understand that any changes made late in the development process – a new car colour, for example – will not be a matter of a quick fix. “It’s really about understanding the medium,” Wendt said.
Branded mobile games also need a significant level of investment. The first version of Sports Car Challenge, for example, cost €1 million to produce, according to Wendt.
For that kind of money, the game has photo realistic graphics and gameplay that is designed to be “easy to play, but difficult to master”, according to Wendt, to ensure players keep coming back.
Once games are released, Proelios uses analytics to help brands understand the products are meeting their objectives but also where there is room for improvement. “We can highlight and develop KPIs based on the objectives of the client,” Wendt explained.