A bright, flashily-colored caricature of music maker Bappi Lahiri sporting heavy jewelry and rings as well as his trademark goggles. One look at the poster of Jump Gamesâ€? Bappi Da Disco King and you instantly know why mobile game publishers are constantly launching “branded” games.
The familiarity that consumers have with a celebrity/brand and the exaggeration of a few traits of that celebrity/brand makes the game establish an instant connect with the consumer, which in turn, results in downloads. And downloads=revenue.
Speaking to AnimationXpress.com, Jump Games EVP Ninad Chhaya shared, “Bappi Da Disco King is a fun game envisioned and created around one of Indiaâ€?s most loved and popular music celebrities, Bappi Lahiri. The game has got a fabulous response and we are already planning our next game around the icon and are working on various concepts with inputs coming from even Bappi Da himself.”
Using the example of the Bappi Da game, Ninad explained how and why it makes so much sense to do branded games. He also drew attention to the fact that even branded games needed a lot of originality and creativity in terms of treatment, gameplay, styling as well as marketing.
“Firstly letâ€?s analyze who plays mobile games and when.” shared Ninad continuing, “Generally people play mobile games to kill time while waiting for a bus or while traveling in trains etc. These consumers are not hard core gamers, they are looking for short-term entertainment. At such a time, the only option for entertainment is the device, which is always at hand, the mobile. Now, for a consumer to actually go through a games list and select and download a title, which s/he feels will be an entertaining time pass, means that the consumer should instantly understand what the game is going to be like.”
“For e.g., for a Sameera Reddy fan, the fact that s/he gets to play a Sameera game is a reason compulsive enough to download. Ditto for a game based on Bappi Da or any other celebrity. We have to remember that hundreds of thousands of Indian consumers also actually play out their fantasies by being a Baichung Bhutia or a Madhavan and the fact that the mobile device is always at hand, and is the most economical and capable way of giving an interactive experience to the consumer is what the Mobile Games business is all about.” shared Ninad.
So, can game companies simply rope in celebrities and then their job is done? “No.” replied Ninad, “On the contrary, it has just begun. Having a branded game sure does mean increased downloads but the game has to be good in all aspects including treatment, gameplay, styling, innovation and marketing. Quite a lot of gaming happens on a â€?pay per sessionâ€? model – the game can be played the first time on the basis of being a brand, but it canâ€?t be played repeatedly if itâ€?s not good. Also, one has to remember that consumers start getting a brand recall of the labels that serve up good quality games consistently, and gradually the label becomes so strong a brand that once in a while a non-branded game from a branded label can do very well too.”
“Besides, roping in celebrities is a challenge in itself. Firstly, one has to make them aware that this is a nascent field and one cannot pay the kind of fees that are paid to them when they endorse products/brands as brand ambassadors. One has to explain that having a game licensed around their personalities means â€?marketing dollarsâ€? for them too. And when you talk about marketing and positioning, the celebrities are extremely wary of choosing the game development partner they want to work with. It is here that the quality of your game, your position in the market, your track record matters.”
Even as this is being read, quite a few consumers – someone in a train from Dombivali to CST, someone waiting at Delhi airport, someone caught in traffic – might be playing, regaining Bappi Daâ€?s bling and at the same time, mobile game developers everywhere are searching for whatâ€?s the next big thing!