Into the world of social gaming: why it’s the future of user-engagement
As part of the Talkwalker Social Media Trends 2021 Expert Series, we conducted a webinar with Amanotes, one of the leading players in the gaming industry, to discuss the up and coming trend of social gaming. We discussed how it grew to become one of the top social media trends today, and how social gaming, when weaved strategically into the overall marketing strategy, can ultimately boost user-engagement for brands. So if you didn’t have the chance to attend the webinar but would like to learn more about the world of social gaming, read on!
Social gaming commonly refers to online games that allow for social interaction between the players. Despite having been around for many years, social gaming really took off as a trend recently, especially so in 2020. Due to COVID-19, 2020 saw many people staying at home, physically isolated from family and friends. Hence, social gaming became a channel to allow people to fulfill their need for social interaction and connectivity. Social gaming is also one of the top trends highlighted in the latest Talkwalker Social Media Trends 2021 report.
During the webinar, Vinh Hoang, business owner at Amanotes, highlighted a social game that has gone viral today, Among Us. Among Us is a multiplayer strategy game created in 2018, with more than 60 million users daily. It is an ideal example to showcase how a game utilizes the “social” aspect as the core gaming mechanism, as the game requires players to work together to accomplish a list of tasks, while attempting to identify the “imposter” amongst them.
“I think that with the impact of the current situation around social distancing, COVID-19, this trend will continue and Among Us will continue their success and continue to build their user base.” - Vinh Hoang , Business Owner at Amanotes
On top of gaining millions of players daily, the virality of the game can also be seen in the volume of related user-generated content that has been produced this year. The types of user-generated content range from recipe videos on creating Among Us themed pancakes, to Among Us related memes, Among Us Christmas ornaments, and even Among Us birthday cakes. Among Us is truly a classic example of how a simple game managed to generate such a high level of excitement from global fans across all social media platforms.
Magic Tiles 3
Magic Tiles 3 is a signature hit game by Amanotes, which has been downloaded 275 million times since it was launched in 2016. How the game works is that players simply need to tap the black piano tiles according to the rhythm of the song that’s being played, and avoid the white ones. The creators of the game over at Amanotes have weaved in the social aspect of the game through the online battle mode, which allows players to create a room and compete with other players around the world. They can also get to know other players via the leaderboard. When users log on to Facebook, they can see which of their friends are also playing the game, and can then choose to compete with their friends in a game of Magic Tiles.
“I do believe that, while Magic TIles started as a mobile music game, the social features added to it helped create an environment for users to connect with each other. Adding the social features into the game really helped the product.” - Vinh Hoang , Business Owner at Amanotes
With these features, the line between social media and gaming has been increasingly blurred, and this can be seen in how the players of Magic Tiles came together to create a community on social media platforms, not only to look for new people to play with, but also to interact and engage with. Members of the Magic Tiles community have even shared how the game, especially with its musical aspect, has helped them deal with some of life’s challenges, by providing them a platform to relax and make new friends.
Other than driving user-generated content, the social aspect of Magic Tiles drives organic performance of the game. With the addition of social features like the battle mode, Amanotes saw a significant increase in Lifetime Value of the user. The company also witnessed an increase in the engagement and retention rate of players. Furthermore, by building a gaming community, Amanotes is able to improve product quality through crowdsourced feedback.
While it’s clear how social features can greatly elevate the performance of gaming platforms by boosting user-engagement, the benefits of social gaming are not limited to gaming companies. Other brands out there have also been leveraging the popularity of gaming, and this trend is very likely to continue in 2021.
Another example I would like to share is LazGame, a gaming platform launched by e-commerce giant, Lazada. It is a collection of in-app games that users can play in order to win Coins, which can later be exchanged for freebies or vouchers on Lazada. The effectiveness of integrating gaming into the product can be seen in how shoppers logged onto the Lazada app as often as six times a day to play the in-app games, since LazGame was launched in March 2019. This shows how such a technique managed to increase the user-engagement rate on Lazada by providing an interesting and fun user experience.
Many other brands have also leveraged the increasing popularity of gaming. This includes Domino’s, which allows users to play a simple game on their website in order to win vouchers and freebies, as well as luxury fashion brands like Gucci. The luxury brand partnered with esports entertainment brand Fnatic, to release a limited-edition watch featuring the Fnatic logo, along with the letters “GG”, which customers were able to purchase at a premium price. This presents yet another way in which brands are utilizing the gaming trend to directly drive purchases.
Other than adding gaming features to their platforms directly, there are other ways for brands to leverage social gaming, particularly the gaming communities and fan bases. Here are 3 key steps brands can take to benefit from social gaming communities.
1. Look for gaming communities to engage with
While there are numerous gaming communities today, brands should identify those that are most suitable for their brand image. Engaging communities with the right demographic will provide the business with an audience that’s likely to respond well to their messaging.
“If we’ve been keenly watching 2020, we’ll notice one thing. The year has been unraveling many truths. Truths that have been longing to get their due. 2021 will be the comeback that we’ve been waiting for. With shorter form content still being the most shared format, we’ll be seeing inclusivity with brands being more ‘woke’ along with consumers.” - Shashwith Gupta, Network Director at GetCraft Singapore
2. Gain a clear understanding of gaming communities through social listening
As gaming communities grow across more niche platforms, it is important for businesses to strengthen their understanding of them through social listening. It is worthwhile to look into platforms like Twitch and Quora in order to gather more data sources. With sufficient data, businesses can understand what makes the gamers tick, and then create content that they will be most receptive to.
3. Find creative ways to reach out to them
From the brand examples shared above, it is clear that there are various ways businesses can inculcate social gaming into their overall strategy. Businesses should think of innovative ways to engage the growing community. When it comes to gaming, the possibilities are endless. Even if advertising directly on a gaming platform isn’t an option, brands can engage the community in other ways. For example, KFC Philippines opened a restaurant within Animal Crossing, fully furnished with KFC themed furniture and decorations. The restaurant even features Colonel Sanders himself - and if players manage to spot him while on the island, they stand a chance to win a free eight-piece bucket of KFC chicken. (in real life) This is a great way to engage fans in a fun game of Animal Crossing, while also promoting KFC chicken.
As the world of social gaming grows bigger and bigger, it continues to open up doors to untapped opportunities for businesses. Especially at a time where the economic climate is uncertain, businesses need to find new and creative ways to attract and engage consumers, and this rising trend provides the avenue to do so.