Why your last advergame failed

Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

Written by Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

 On 7/22/19 2:00 PM

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Did you try to revolutionize your marketing strategy with an advergame, only to have it fail?  The problem isn’t advergames or your industry. There's a right game for every brand, you just need certain criteria to be successful.

Advergames are amazing marketing tools, but a boring advergame can actually have quite the detrimental effect on customer engagement.  Consumers feel a greater sense of disillusionment when faced with a dull or dysfunctional game than with a traditional ad because they’re expecting entertainment when they play a game.  Wasting their time and letting them down can create an unfortunate negative association with your brand.

Don’t give up hope if your last advergame was a dud; we’ve got you covered with the insider info on why some advergames don't work and what you need in order to create a smashing game.  Here are the top 8 reasons advergames fail - sit down, buckle up, and let’s tackle them!


1.  The game doesn't work 

As in technically - it has bugs or it can’t be played on certain devices.  This may sound basic - and it is - but if you don’t have the essentials covered then your advergame is sure to be a disappointment. 

A game that doesn’t work can’t move your customer… and a game that malfunctions moves your customer away from you. 

2.  The game isn't fun

Fun is one of the foundational pillars of games  - just take a look at why we play games.  The word “fun” is representative of a number of different things that are like sugar for the brain.  No wonder we crave it. 

But fun needs time and space to be cultivated.  Advergames fail when the budget is too low, or the team that builds the game is not given the freedom they need.

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3.  Ineffective distribution

Your game can’t succeed if it can’t get to your customer.  Nowadays, this means that for whatever reason, your customer cannot find or download your game (often because of technical issues).  It’s essential to make your game easily accessible and downloadable.

4.  Subpar marketing

Do you need to market your marketing game?  Absolutely!  

Customers need to:

  1. Know about your game.
  2. Find the game “offer” compelling enough to give it a try.
  3. (Then distribution and fun kick in to make them play and tell their friends)

Only once the first two are accomplished does the third matter.  It makes no difference if you’ve created a fun game if no one knows about it.  And without an intriguing “offer,” no one will find out that your game is a playful representation of your brand. 

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If you are an established business, you have a great advantage over entertainment games. Mainstream game companies have to spend huge amounts of money to leverage various marketing channels - but your own business is a channel where no other games compete. Use it!  (This is especially true in retail and other mass-consumer markets.)

5.  Misalignment of game message and brand 

A generic advergame may actually do your brand a disservice if it’s not connected to your brand or values.  Even if a game is designed for your company, that doesn’t mean that it’ll accurately represent your mission.  A disconnect between your company and your advergame often leads to a mediocre experience.  Take the Skittles game, Darkened Skye, for instance - the game was originally created with M&M’s in mind, but the game wasn’t designed around either brand.  The candies were simply added in (and easily swapped out) - they weren’t essential to the game’s story. And despite the gameplay being compared to gaming giants like The Legend of Zelda series and Tomb Raider, the game received overall mixed reviews.

6. Lacks easy sharing

Advergames often fail when they aren’t designed with sharing in mind.  This doesn’t just mean adding a “Share on Facebook” button - it’s everything from creating a cool, unique shareable experience, adding the tools to capture the experience (in a screenshot or video, maybe even annotated in a cool and personalized way), and finally bringing it together with the actual share mechanics.

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7. Competition not encouraged

People love to compete, especially with people they know.  Just look at the popularity of Words with Friends.  An underachieving advergame doesn’t encourage competing with friends (or even strangers).  Leaderboards, in particular ones that are limited to friends, are especially important to make a playing experience personal. 

Most of us don’t usually go to the cinema alone; we watch the movie with a room full of people, but even so, we still go with friends so that we can talk about the film and share the experience.

8. Toxic behavior

No one wants to join a community, only to find that people are littering the space with negative comments.  Your advergame will not enjoy success if its community is overrun with toxic behavior. You need to have tools and policies in place to manage your community or risk players leaving in droves to avoid the destructive space. 


So there you have it - the 8 main reasons advergames fail.  Games are a powerful medium for businesses to take advantage of - if done well.  

Now that you know what to avoid, take a look at our guides to the 3 must-have features of a successful advergame and how to pick the right game type for your brand.  Advergames are too good of tools to give up on!


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