About (Free) Brands in Mobile Gaming

May 19th, 2008 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Brand Licensing | 1 Comment »

MobilegamesblogmgbLast November, Jan Rezab was here with us. During his visit we talked about a lot of things and specially brand tactics. An interesting subject which we will work out below.

In this article, we use the term ‘brand’ a lot. A brand should be considered as just something that is well known, and so has it’s own marketing power that sometimes has been generated over many, many years, while others are just brand new.

Board and Card Games
The first and probably most powerful brand is the classical board or card game. Everybody knows games like Checkers, Chess and Poker. Yet, a lot of big publishers have never fully exploited all possibilities. For small developers it’s easy to track missing pieces. Take for example Glu. When looking in their board games category, they have a chess game for which they licensed Kasparov, but Checkers is missing. A good opportunity for small developers to pitch for. When it comes to card games, it’s the same thing. Every publisher seems focussed at Blackjack and Poker, but what about all those other card games that are played so well all over the world?

When looking at board games, you have to consider that many board games might have alternative rules in some countries. Wikipedia is a great help on that. Also, you have to check is a board game is really free. Modern games like Catan and Monopoly of course, aren’t.

Story Telling
Another thing people enjoy a lot is storytelling. Everybody probably knows tales from the brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. Those stories are often free to create a whole new version of. Imagine Raponzel in the big city, trapped in an office building. The only real problem you might face is the fact that the characters and stories have different names in different countries. Another option are urban legends. The problems with those might be that the tales are too local…

Watch the Evening News
Sometimes big news items can also be a great reason for building a game. A classic example is the Titanic that sunk, or the wars in Vietnam or Birma. That last one was used with great success by developer Rovio. The big problem here might be that you can touch sensitive subjects. Probably no one wants to put their name on a game that includes destruction of the twin towers.

Puzzle Solving
One of the most famous puzzles that made it to mobile is Sudoku. The game is ideal for placement on the mobile screen, and navigation with the num-pad. Probably there are loads of other number puzzle games in news papers that deserve deck-space. So open up the newspaper one in a while and see if you can discover a creative game that is not out there yet. Be careful though; word games require a lot of translation and effort to check if they are still good enough in the new language.

Famous Dead Guys
Today, most famous people are marketing themselves as a brand. Take for example Paris Hilton that got her own game at Gameloft. One of the companies that acted on famous dead people was Breakpoint Games. The Russian developer made a flying game based on Da Vinci.

Riding the Wave
Another option might be to look at the competition and ride on a marketing wave. When Pirated of the Caribbean was a great success, it was actually HandyGames that performed really well with their Pirates mobile game. The actual branded game came along much later.

Though HandyGames just developed a pirated game, many developers even go closer. Good examples are “Stolen in 60 Seconds”, “Thursday the 12th” or “Californian Chainsaw Massacre”.

RedbossSo to conclude this “lesson in branding”, I would like to thank Jan Rezab, president on Mliven, for the great discussion we had and reminding me about it through his blog posts (1,2). Please check the original posts from him to get even more inspiration.

    One Response to “About (Free) Brands in Mobile Gaming”

    1. John Bridges says:

      Most IP lawyers would give you a hard time over “Thursday the 12th” “Stolen in 60 seconds” etc – as there is obvious intent to “lean” on the real brand – esp where those brands will enter the market in the same (mobile game) space.
      Producers of Adult movies tend to get away with these sort of tricks because there is a disconnect between the marketing spaces.

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    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.


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