The Future of Mobile

The family way – how games bring parents and kids together for good  

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Casey Campbell, Managing Director, North America at Gameloft for brands, looks at how family dynamics have changed during the pandemic and how brands can reach their customers and prospects in new and entertaining ways.

Humans are hardwired to enjoy playing games of all types, from full-on sports like rugby and baseball to board games and video games on PCs, consoles and mobile. Videogames have come in for some bad press in the past, but during the pandemic, the screen shifted from villain to hero. Parents and children relied on their screens for homeschooling, keeping in contact with friends and family when physical contact was not possible, and of course, playing games. And let’s face it, playing mobile games is fun – otherwise, kids wouldn’t enjoy it so much. What’s important is that when they turn to their phones or tablets, children and their parents can access quality content that will keep them entertained,amused and stimulated in a positive way.

Even before the pandemic, the positive nature of videogames was acknowledged in a study carried out by Columbia University in 2016 that found that children between the ages of six and 11 who were keen videogamers actually performed better in school and  socialized better with their classmates than those who did not play videogames.

The edutainment revolution and responsible gaming
Over the past few years, Gameloft has been at the forefront of the “edutainment” revolution, developing games and apps that help children to learn as they play, often with their parents alongside them. Edutainment apps typically improve children’s engagement in learning activities and enable them to learn new skills almost without realizing they are being taught because they enjoy the games and activities so much.

Applaydu, for example, is an app created by Gameloft for Ferrero that brings Kinder Surprise & Kinder Joy toys to life through augmented reality. Developed in collaboration with Oxford University early childhood education experts, it connects parents with their 4 to 9 year-old kids, while teaching new things to the little ones. Applaydu is Kid Safe Certified and has built-in parental controls, without micro-transactions or in-app purchases. First and foremost, it is designated as an educational app to support child development across different areas such as Literacy or Mathematics, and development of cognitive skills like memory and attention. In fact, Applaydu won The Drum award for the Best Use of Mobile Content 2021 in November. The app offers an immersive experience dedicated to children, where the environments, characters and stories are designed to spark their imagination and stimulate their ability to learn new things. It includes games, interactive stories, and lots of other fun activities for families to play together.

Where ads appear within Gameloft apps and games aimed at children, our controls ensure that they are appropriate for their audience. Of course, there are regulatory requirements to ensure that all ads comply with GDPR and GDPR-K (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines in the EU, and in the US Gameloft’s ads comply with CAR principles and COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), which regulates children’s privacy online. All our ad-supported games are classified to provide adapted gameplay based on their target audience or user age. We also apply specific restrictions according to the player’s age, including appropriate advertising content, no collection of personal data, and restricted targeting features. As a closed, owned-and-operated network, we have a high level of transparency and control around ad creatives running in our games and who’s seeing them.

Parents also deserve to have fun
We also believe strongly in responsible gaming principles, where parents should monitor the amount of time their children spend in front of a screen – whether it’s playing games or just watching linear content – and set limits where necessary. We also believe it’s healthy for parents to play games alongside their children, encouraging them and joining in the fun.

On that point, it’s worth remembering that with the average age of a gamer being 36, many parents are also keen gamers and one of the most enthusiastic groups of mobile shoppers. According to Tapjoy, 75 per cent of parents shop on mobile between one and four times a week. In addition, 90 per cent of parents use mobile as a gaming platform, and 64 pe rcent report playing mobile games very often. This presents brands with a fantastic opportunity to invest in gamification and in-game ads to advertise their products and services.

Gamers are also highly engaged with advertising. According to a Tapjoy study, 41 per cent of people are likely to pay attention to ads in mobile games, ahead of the internet (17 per cent), magazines (15 per cent) and billboards (15 per cent). In addition, 72 per cent of people said they like interacting with ads in exchange for in-app currency or premium content.

In our Kids and Toys survey of 2,125 people carried out in the UK and the US in Q3 of 2021, 38 per cent of respondents said they buy toys at least two or three times a month, with educational toys and games the top categories bought. In addition, 57 per cent said they are made aware of new toys through their children and online ads, including ads in games, and 53 per cent buy toys online.

In-game brand activations
There are many more compelling reasons why brands should take gaming seriously as an advertising channel. Parents, kids and a diverse audience are part of the gaming audience. According to App Annie’s 2021 State of Mobile Report, mobile gaming grew by 20 per cent year-on-year in 2020, both in terms of the number of users and revenues. In addition, figures from Newzoo suggest that there were over 2.6bn gamers worldwide in 2020 and that the revenue generated by the gaming industry in that same year was $76bn.

We’ve seen a fast and powerful uptake in brands’ interest in the metaverse and the world of possibilities it offers. In the past years, real-life public events and spaces haven’t been consistently available. Families looking to be entertained together have looked to digital solutions like games. Adapting to these evolving needs of the family audience, digital venues allow Gameloft to help brands engage with gamers in new ways. A digital venue is where brands can host or create a digital event in the video game world – usually to tease or reveal a new product. This can include real-time online performances presented by brands that overcome the travel logistics and ticket costs of attending a sponsored event in person. 

We had an amazing experience, for example, collaborating with UK electronic music promoter LWE, hosting London’s renowned Junction 2 music festival in our Asphalt games. The festival attracted 3.2m fans globally in July of 2020 and was so successful that we encored it with new artists in January 2021 due to fan demand.  We featured more than 20 of the world’s finest house and techno artists performing across three visually unique digital stages in Asphalt 8 and 9, all brought together as the Junction 2: Connections global live stream event. It was broadcast via three different live streams in-game from London, Detroit, and Berlin to global audiences. The game teams created special daily events and exclusive prizes for the festival. Players were able to hype themselves up for the shows by listening to preview beats as they raced through London and New York tracks with the Lykan HyperSport car.

Our experience was that in-game shows to a highly engaged audience have fantastic potential for safe, curated digital performances where kids and parents can enjoy them together. Brands should consider mobile games as accessible, budget-friendly entertainment that allows them to reach families. We can create fun experiences within those games so that brands aren’t just talking at families, but playing together with them and connecting.

About Gameloft for brands
With 20 years of game development experience, Gameloft for brands are experts in taking ideas, injecting creativity and producing high-quality branded gamified content with your marketing objective in mind. So to get things rolling, contact us here.