How to Set Up a PC for a Web Based HTML5 Exhibition Game

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Why Use HTML5 For an Exhibition Game?

Web based HTML5 gives you the option of using a game across different devices at exhibitions/events. For instance you might want to set up your game on a PC with a large touch screen at one event, but scale it down to mounted iPads at another. It also gives you the added option of having a public web based version of your exhibition game with minimal changes if you wish, to help with your other marketing activities. Conversely, if you get a web based HTML5 game produced for a marketing campaign, you can easily get some slight modifications made to use it at a trade show on standard PC hardware or tablets.

There are a couple of different options for setting up a simple DIY interactive kiosk to use an HTML5 game at an exhibition, trade show or event. I’m going to try and cover the other (using mounted tablets) over the coming weeks/months. For now let’s concentrate on using a PC…

What Hardware Will I Need?

Any PC with a screen (and input devices) connected can be used to run your HTML5 game on an exhibition stand. This setup also give you the greatest flexibility. You can choose the size of screen. Anything from a modest sized desktop screen right up to a giant touch screen display built into your exhibition stand, the choice is yours. You also get a choice of input devices, usually a touch screen or joystick/gamepad for more arcade style games. Although mouse and/or keyboard is out, for reasons I’ll get to shortly (and in any case probably not right for game controls on an exhibition stand anyway).

Although most simple 2D games don’t need a state-of-the-art games machine to run, I’d always recommend you test and set up the game on the actual hardware you’ll be using at the exhibition well ahead of time. The last thing you want is to get to the trade show (with limited time on the morning of the first day) and set up for the first time. That’s asking for trouble. So make sure you take a bit of preparation time to set up your game before the event, to make sure setup is stress free on the day.

Remove Physical Access to Hardware

The PC itself and any physical peripherals/input devices that would allow players to quit out of your game should not be accessible. Move them out of the way, lock them away, whatever you have to do. Any input devices and peripherals (anything players don’t need or shouldn’t have access to) should be disconnected from the PC altogether, where possible. If you need to connect a mouse and/or keyboard to set the game up on the PC, only connect when you need them and disconnect again afterwards. The only input devices accessible to the public should be the ones that they need to play the game (usually either a touch screen or gamepad/joystick).

It’s also worth mentioning that any gamepads or joysticks you intend to use, should have some sort of secure mount on your exhibition stand. The last thing you want is for your controller to go walkies 10 minutes into the first day.

Use a Clean, Dedicated Machine

I’d also strongly recommend that you use a machine with a fresh, up-to-date install of Windows. Again it’s about stripping the PC down to the bare minimum that’s needed to run the game. No extra software that’s surplus to requirements should be installed.

Under no circumstances should you use a regular in-use work PC for this. If a player does somehow manage to get out of the game and get access to Windows, you don’t want them having access to all your sensitive files.

Windows 10 is ideal, as it’s best equipped to set up and use touch screens and lock down the operating system for HTML5 games. Once we get to the details of setting up Windows, we’ll be assuming we’re working with Windows 10.

Don’t Forget Power

Obviously, you need to make sure the PC you have the game set up on has sufficient power as well. If you’re running all day, just a laptop with one battery pack isn’t going to do it. You’ll need either mains power or sufficient battery packs to last the duration.

Also, make sure any wireless, rechargeable input devices have sufficient charge to last the duration of each day of the trade show and you’re able to recharge them in the evening. If you’re using a gamepad or joystick that needs charging, make sure it’s fully charged and consider having another fully charged spare on hand just in case.

Internet Connection

Usually you’ll need a live internet connection on the PC you’ll be running your web based HTML5 game on. Features like scoreboards, data capture forms etc. usually rely on server-side scripts and storage. So again, check in advance that you’ll get access to Wi-Fi at the exhibition, if not you’ll need to organise some other way to set up your game at the exhibition.

It doesn’t generally need to be particularly fast (for scoreboards and data capture we’re talking about transferring tiny amounts of data), but it does need to be there and not dropping out all the time.

Running in Full Screen Mode

You’ll need a full screen mode button incorporating into the exhibition version of your game to enable this mode via the HTML5 fullscreen API. We do this anyway in all the web based HTML5 games we create and it’s fairly easy for your developer to add one.

You’ll also need the exhibition version of your HTML5 game to automatically disable any in-game buttons you don’t want players to have access to while playing in full screen mode. The most important being the full screen button (so once the game is up and running in full screen mode players can’t quit out of it). You might also want to consider disabling any settings controls, pause and mute buttons to keep the game running consistently throughout.

Stopping Players Accessing the Operating System

You need to make sure your PC is set up properly to lock it down. Otherwise players will be able to exit out of your game into Windows to mess with things they shouldn’t. On PC this will require changing some Windows setting and utilising Google Chrome’s “Kiosk Mode”.

Again, once you’ve locked the machine down, test thoroughly to make sure there are no ways to quit out of the game using any of the input devices that will be accessible to players.

Setting up Windows 10

Google Chrome Kiosk Mode

I’d recommend using Google Chrome to run your HTML5 game at a trade show. It provides the best support for touch screens and other input devices and avoids some quirks that make some of the other browsers less than ideal for running an HTML5 game at an exhibition or event. It also provides a built in Kiosk Mode. This allows you to set up a shortcut to open your game directly in windowless browser mode.

First of all you’ll need to download and install the latest version of Chrome, if you don’t already have it.

Right click in a directory where you want to store your game shortcut and select New -> Shortcut.

Click “Browse” and find the Google Chrome program file (usually at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”) then click “Next”.

Give the shortcut a name, then click “Finish”.

Right click the shortcut you’ve just created and select “Properties”.

Edit the “Target” field and put –kiosk followed by the web address of your game, after the last quote marks of the existing text and click “OK”. So it should read something like…

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” — kiosk http://www.thedomain.com/the-exhibition-game-url/

Double click the shortcut icon to open Google Chrome in Kiosk Mode, automatically opening the game page, which you can then full screen (via the in-game full screen button). You’ll need to press Alt-F4 on a keyboard to quit Chrome while in Kiosk Mode, but once it’s up and running you hopefully shouldn’t need to.

Disable Screen Edge Swipe Functions

Windows 10 has built in functions that occur when you swipe at the edges of the screen (including opening Task View, dragging in the “Action Center” sidebar etc.) You need to disable these, otherwise players will be able to quit out of the game or get into PC settings.

This setting isn’t available in the standard Windows settings and requires a quick registry change. You can either (create and) set the key manually (not recommended), or download and run these handy registry files to quickly enable/disable this feature. In case you’re interested, the relevant registry key is:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\EdgeUI] “AllowEdgeSwipe” – set to 0.

Either way you’ll need to restart Windows for the changes to take effect and you should be able to test afterwards that the edge swipe functions no longer work.

It’s also worth mentioning that messing with the registry can do bad things to a Windows install. So don’t change anything but this one key. This is yet another reason to use a dedicated machine with a fresh Windows install to run your game and again, set this up ahead of time. You really don’t want to be making registry changes on an important work machine if you can help it.

Turn Off Action Center Notifications

Action Center is a new feature built into Windows 10 that allows installed software to deliver mobile-like push notifications, as well as giving easy access to certain Windows settings. This can be useful on a standard machine, but these are often clickable (taking the user into the relevant program or settings) and can be distracting. For these reasons we need to make sure we disable these notifications, to stop them popping up over our game. To do this:

Open Windows Settings, by selecting the cog icon.

Select “System”.

Select “Notifications & Actions” from the list on the left. Under the main “Notifications” heading, on the right, you’ll see a list of notification permission toggles. You need to make sure all of these are switched off. Otherwise pop-up, clickable notifications will allow players to click away from the game.

There’s also a long list of program specific notification toggles below. The top toggle we’ve just switched off (labelled “Get notifications from apps and other senders”) should have automatically disabled these (greying them out), but just double check these are all disabled as well.

Switch Off Sleep Mode

This is worth doing to make sure the game keeps running continuously and the computer doesn’t hibernate if it’s left idling. The last thing you want is for the screen the go black every few minutes, if no one is playing your game in that time.

Go into Windows Settings, “System” again.

Click “Power & Sleep” on the left and switch both “Screen” and “Sleep” to “Never” via the drop-downs.

Put Windows Into Tablet Mode

This is necessary to make sure the on screen keyboard appears when you select a text entry form (such as a scoreboard entry form) on a touch screen. However, even if you’re not using a touch screen it’s worth switching to tablet mode anyway because it helps with locking out access to features such as the Windows task bar when you’re running your game at the exhibition.

The easiest way to toggle this on/off is to open “Action Center” by clicking the square speech bubble icon in the bottom right of the Windows task bar. Then just press the “Tablet Mode” button to toggle it on/off.

You’re All Set

You now have everything set up to use your HTML5 game at an exhibition or event. Players should be totally locked into the game, taking up the full screen area, so you shouldn’t be able to tell it’s a web based HTML5 game either.

Ideas to Make the Most of Your Exhibition Game at a Trade Show or Event

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

We get lots of interest from businesses looking for ideas for using a game at a trade show, so I thought it’s about time I write up the main options you have.

I’m not going to go into specifics of possible gameplay concepts. That’s very much dependent on your industry, target audience and the products or services your business is promoting at the exhibition. (Please feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for ideas for an exhibition stand game).

What I am going to do is give you some options on how you can implement and use an interactive game on your exhibition stand, as well as getting the most out of it. I’m also going to go over some best practices that you should be aware of.

Hardware Considerations

Using a Tablet in Kiosk Mode

It’s no longer essential to use PC hardware with an external and potentially expensive touch screen (assuming you want touch screen controls that is). If you’re happy with the smaller screen sizes, it might be more cost effective (and easier, in terms of transportation and setup) to use a tablet (or multiple tablets) at a trade show.

A “kiosk mode” is available on most modern mobile devices and tablets. So you can lock the device to the game and stop players exiting out and messing with things they shouldn’t at the exhibition. It just requires a bit of configuration in the operating system settings ahead of time and you’re good to go.

If you’re going to be using a tablet, always make sure you allow for a charging cable on your exhibition stand. You’re going to need to preferably have it plugged in throughout the day, for the duration of the event, continuously charging. Otherwise the battery will be dead before the morning is out. So make sure any housing or mount you use on your business’s stand allows for this.

Alternatively, if it’s not going to be possible to have the tablet plugged in all day, you’re going to need some external battery packs that you can rotate throughout the day of the show to keep you up and running.

Using PC Hardware

With PC hardware you’re not tied to a fixed screen spec, you can configure it however you wish. With no limits on screen size, you get the option to really make your exhibition game stand out by going big.

You also get more options on input devices for controls. You’re probably not going to want to use a mouse and/or keyboard to control a game at a trade show. As well as it being fairly cumbersome as a control method in that environment, it might allow players to navigate out of your game and get access to the PC running it. But that doesn’t mean you’re tied to using a touch screen at an exhibition either. PC hardware makes controlling with any standard gamepad or joystick an option. This is great for more arcade type games and gives you options right up to building a mock retro arcade machine right on your exhibition stand.

There are downsides to using PC hardware at a trade show though. Transportation and setup is going to be more of an issue, with more bulky hardware needed. It’s also likely to be costlier, especially if you want a large touch screen on your stand.

Again, don’t overlook power. Even if you’re using a laptop, you’re going to need it plugged in throughout the day to prevent the battery from running out.

Sound/Speakers

Don’t overlook sound as a possible way to attract visitors to your stand at an exhibition. Plus sound effects and background music can really enhance a gaming experience. If you don’t have any speakers though it’s a wasted opportunity. So if you’re going for a big screen, always try to get some external speakers that will project the sound in the immediate area of your trade show booth where possible.

Development/Deployment Platforms

Web Based HTML5

Assuming the device or PC you’ll be using at the event will have a live internet connection, an HTML5 game is a valid option.

The web browser’s built in fullscreen mode allows your exhibition game to look like an installed software application.

Going web based on PC no longer limits you to keyboard and mouse or touch screen controls either. The HTML5 gamepad API allows you to use any standard gamepad or joystick (provided you’re using a compatible web browser).

The big plus side of HTML5 is because it’s web based you can get a version of your trade show game to use on your website, to integrate with your other marketing activities outside the exhibition. This usually only requires very minor changes for your website build. So as long as it’s built into the original plan, it shouldn’t increase the production costs above and beyond just use the game on your exhibition stand. This also means you could potentially give out the web address for visitors to play on their own devices, away from your stand at the exhibition.

Installable Mobile App or PC Game

The other option is to go down the installable software route. This can give you a more polished end product, but development can be more complex because the end product is tied to specific target platforms (requiring a separate build for each). It’s also likely you’d be locked out of having a web based version of your exhibition game for your website as well.

If you want to use a tablet on your exhibition stand you’d be limited to Android only, because iOS won’t easily let you circumvent Apple’s app store to install an app on a device.

Always Plan Well in Advance

I can’t stress this enough. The problem we see most often with any type of branded game is thinking about it far too late.

If you’re thinking of using a video game at an exhibition or trade show, you need to consider how you’re going to present it and plan for the hardware you’re going to need (as well as any associated build requirements for your stand).

It’s also going to be useful to the game developer you use to know the exact hardware spec you’ll be using at the event.

So ideally, I’d recommend you start thinking and planning a game for an exhibition at least 3 months ahead of time. This will not only give you plenty of time to plan the hardware side and test the game on that exact hardware, it’ll also mean you have plenty of time nail down ideas for your exhibition stand game. The earlier you can start planning, the easier and less stressful the whole process will be.

Always Test on the Actual Hardware

Don’t make the day of the exhibition the first time you set the game up, that’s asking for trouble. Always make sure you test on the hardware setup you’ll be using on the day, well in advance. The last thing you want is to be tearing your hair out, trying to figure out why you can’t get the game to work, as visitors are already coming through the venue doors.

It’s also worth mentioning that testing on any tablet or PC isn’t good enough. Make sure you test on THE exact setup you’ll be using at the exhibition. Otherwise any variation in operating system, hardware spec or installed application software are still unknown variables that could potentially cause issues.

If you get this all done and setup well in advance, it’ll make your setup on the day of the event easy and stress free.

Competitions and Data Capture

Because of the way game scores are stored in a scoreboard making it open to cheating, we strongly advise clients not to run competitions based on game outcomes such as player scores.

If you’re using your devices on your stand only, then to some degree it’s locked down in a controlled environment. Players don’t get access to the computer or device outside of the game, so this may somewhat mitigate the risk. But it’s best not to risk it.

There are some ways around this, if you want to collect data at the exhibition, such as including a free prize draw entry form.

Visibility and Promotion

I’ve written about promoting a branded game and how it’s never a good idea to just expect people to magically find it before. Although this doesn’t technically apply at an exhibition, physical location on your stand and the visibility that provides should be a primary consideration.

As with any piece of content, it’s there to increase engagement, get people staying on your stand for longer and hopefully generate buzz at the exhibition. However, most of this relies on getting those initial players to get the ball rolling. So maximising visibility on your stand and doing a bit of creative promotion at the venue is essential, to help get the most out of your game.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but hiding your game round a corner or behind another part of your exhibition stand is obviously going to affect how much interest you get. Designing your stand so that your game gets good visibility to visitors walking by is essential.

Using a PC powered giant screen is going to get you the best visibility and interest from passers by. However, I understand unless you have a big budget for your stand, it’s probably not going to be feasible.

If you’re using smaller devices such as tablets, or a modestly sized screen attached to a PC, there are still some ideas you can use to maximise visibility at a trade show or event. For instance, why not consider incorporating some prominent signage into your exhibition stand to highlight the game. Something as simple as a “Come and Play” sign could make a massive difference.

An exhibition game can be a great promotional hook as well. So why not make the most of it. If you’re speaking to visitors at the show, handing out flyers or even doing pre-exhibition “come see us at stand X” type promotions, why not leverage the game there. “Come play our game on stand X” certainly sounds a lot more inviting.

Unleash Your Creativity

Hopefully this has helped give you some ideas and point you in the right direction. What creative ideas can you think of to get the most out of your exhibition game?

The ‘Build It and They Will Come’ Approach to Branded Games

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Branded games can be a great way to get huge exposure for brands, when integrated with your other marketing. The problem that I see more often than you would think (and I would like) is businesses insisting on taking the ‘build it and they will come’ approach, despite being strongly advised against it.

As with most bad ideas, it comes from a lack of knowledge and experience and it’s definitely not the client’s fault for thinking this way. People see the hype around branded games and think they’re something magical, where you build this piece of content, post it to your website and all of a sudden (by some sort of psychic link?) millions of people will suddenly know about it, visit and play it. Although branded games can be quite magical at times, in terms of just how many people they can reach, there’s nothing magical about the hard work that goes into launching one successfully.

The fact is, very little content goes truly ‘viral’, this equally applies to other forms of multimedia content such as videos. For something to be truly viral and grow in popularity exponentially, every person that sees it needs to pass it on to more than one other person, which rarely happens. If that was the case, you could literally tell just a handful of people about the content you’ve created and watch it spread out of control. In reality, banking on this is only going to lead to failure and that’s what you’re pretty much guaranteeing if you don’t do everything you can to promote a piece of content.

Now that isn’t to say producing a branded game is a waste of time and money and it’s doomed to failure from the start, far from it. They can be a brilliant hook to gain exposure within your industry, via your own marketing and PR channels. We’ve seen clients use press releases to really push their branded game and get great, targeted exposure by doing so. It goes without saying that a high quality game will serve you much better (in increased engagement, spread and ultimately exposure) than a poor game, but you need to be aware of the realities of launching a branded game. Whether it’s a game posted on your own website or on a third party platform such as Facebook or a mobile app, spending some time planning and effectively making use of all the channels at your disposal will only benefit you in the long run.

The process of launching a branded game involves getting as many eyeballs on the content as possible from the start, much the same as promoting any other piece of content. The most successful branded games we’ve produced have been successful because the client has been passionate about promoting the game and really gone the extra mile. We take care of production of a quality, engaging game, but that’s only part of the equation.

If you’re a small business without a good, targeted mailing list (and/or an extensive following on social media) and the means to promote a branded game to potentially get exposure in industry specific media then, in all honesty, a branded game (or indeed any multimedia content) may not be for you. But as long as you have those things (plus, put in the work to take advantage of them) and are able to fully integrate a game into a current marketing campaign to drive even more players, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t see good results from a branded game as an engagement tool.

I won’t go into specifics about what you should do to promote a branded game here, but it should definitely be fully integrated into your overall marketing campaign to see good results, not just left in isolation. It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to maximise your return by thinking about other ways you can use the game from the start. E.g. we’ve had clients have branded games produced for inclusion on their website, but also have a slightly modified version built to take to trade shows and events. This may increase the production costs slightly, but will allow you to maximise use of your game for a relatively small additional cost.

Long story short, to maximise exposure and return from a branded game takes some work on the client’s part. If you really make the most of the opportunity and think of creative ways to use your branded game as a promotional tool, instead of just seeing the game as the end of the process, you’ll undoubtedly reap the rewards.

Things Every Brand Should Do to Promote Their Branded Game

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Branded games really are the king of premium content that can help engage your audience, give your PR the hook it needs to get coverage in online and traditional media, help your SEO efforts and more. But like with any content, your branded game can be the most amazing piece ever created, but if few people know it’s there, it will fail.

Without a promotion strategy to drive a good number of players in the first instance, you’re fighting an uphill battle and will likely be disappointed with the results of even the most amazing branding game. On the other hand a good promotional strategy, implemented well, can produce great results. But it does require some work, above and beyond just producing and posting a branding game.

I’m not going to go into every single creative method you can use to promote a game, many of these are likely to be industry specific, or even specific to your particular brand. What we’re going to go after here is the low hanging fruit. The easy stuff that every brand can and should be doing as a bare minimum to promote a branded game in order to dramatically increase their chances of making it a success.

Most of them seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many brands fail to do even the most basic promotion and end up missing out on potentially huge amounts of exposure. Anyway, here we go:

Leverage Your Existing Audience

Existing Website Traffic

This is the most obvious one and it can make a huge difference, especially for brands that already have good amounts of traffic to their website. Promote your game with a link from your homepage (or some other high traffic page).

If it’s a web based game sitting on a page on your website, it’s not enough just to put it up and not give your visitors an easy way to find it. Same goes for a mobile app, or a game that sits on Facebook or some other external website. Link it from your homepage.

A nicely designed image link is obviously preferable, but you’d be surprised how many brands don’t even promote their game with a text link (either to the game, or games index page, if you have more than one) on a high traffic page of their website. If you don’t do this, you’re missing out on a great, extremely easy opportunity to give your branded game a promotional boost  and dramatically increase play numbers.

Social Media

I’m going to assume your business is active on social media (Twitter and Facebook at least). Anyone that’s chosen to follow you on social media is already interested in your business. So make sure you promote your branded game to them.

I should also mention, this isn’t a once and done thing. Now I’m not advocating spam, but if you have a reason to post again, do it. E.g. if you do an update to your game, tell people about it.

It also depends the social network. Twitter for instance is very much in the moment and tweets “expire” very quickly. So if you have a very active business Twitter account, why not consider promoting your game there more frequently (maybe once a week).

Mailing lists

If your business has a mailing list (email or snail mail) use it to tell people about your game. Once again, this is a prime opportunity to target people who’ve shown an interest in your business, or have even been past customers/clients. Not leveraging your mailing list to promote a branded game is a big mistake.

Integrate With Your Other Marketing Activities

A branded game usually ties in with a specific marketing campaign, yet many brands forget to cross-promote their content.

Advertising

Whether you’re a huge multi-national corporation, or a small business, I’m guessing you’re doing some sort of advertising to promote your business. Whether online or offline and no matter what the scale, why not at the very least mention the game in your other advertising? Otherwise it’s a missed opportunity to generate interest in your game and ultimately promote your business.

PR

Same goes for your PR activities. Businesses (particular smaller, less established ones) often struggle to get media coverage. Without a good hook, it can be difficult to stand out from the mountain of similar, bland press releases received by media each day.

If you have a branded game, that may very well be the hook you need to stand out from the crowd and get the coverage your business needs, and deserves to help promote your brand. Unfortunately, many brands squander this opportunity by either not doing this at all, or not doing it effectively.

Increase Your Chances of Success

Don’t be one of the businesses that takes the “Build it and They Will Come” approach and forgo these easy steps to promote their branded game. It almost never leads to success, with any form of content, however good it is.

Make sure you go through this checklist and at the very least do everything on it. But don’t stop there, I’m sure you can think of many more creative ways to promote and drive even more traffic to your branded game.

Always Choose Custom Branded Games Over Reskinned Games

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Off-the-shelf, reskinned branded games can be tempting due to the seemingly much lower cost vs custom built solutions. A game is a game, right? Wrong. Here’s why you really should steer well clear.

Quality is Generally Lower

This isn’t always the case, but generally companies relying on bulk sales of off-the-shelf games, at a much lower rate and offer a much lower quality product. As with everything, you get what you pay for. Do you want to commission a developer who’s having to speculatively churn out endless generic games for repurposing with no guarantee they will make any money, just to make sure they have everything covered in advance, or a developer who knows they’re guaranteed fair compensation for their work and will carefully craft your game from the ground up, with your brand in mind?

When having to take the former approach, corners inevitably get cut and the bare minimum of work ends up getting done. So you can end up with not only a lower grade product, but a product that’s missing much of the functionality you might expect.

Lack of Extra Features to Increase Engagement and Spread

Many off-the-shelf brandable games only include bare bones core functionality and lack many of the additional features you may want, need or expect. This stems from the fact that the game needs to be created in a generic, reusable form as well as needing to complete production as fast as possible.

Features like global scoreboards, social media sharing, Facebook games platform integration, or integration with your own custom backend system will likely be off the table without significant (and costly) custom modifications/additions. So by the time you’ve actually got everything you need added to a prebuilt branded game, the costs involved are nowhere near as low as you first thought.

You May Be on Your Own When It Comes to Support

When you buy a non-exclusive license of a pre-built, reskinnable game, you’re usually going to get the final package ready for uploading and posting on your website. However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Especially now HTML5 is being used more and more to cover mobile compatibility. For instance branded HTML5 games usually include a number of files (code and assets) needed to make them work and an iframe is the usual way to embed into a web page. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you really need to make sure a base level of support is included to help you get you up and running. Unfortunately, a cheap reskinned game license is unlikely to mean someone is there to guide you through every step of the process and troubleshoot any potential problems you may have.

Don’t Settle for “That’ll Do”

Your brand deserves better than settling for a ready made game that isn’t exactly what you want, but is the closest fit you can find. You wouldn’t do it in any other areas of your marketing, so why do it here? Would you pick an off-the-shelf TV or print advertisement and just put your logo on it? Imagine having the exact same advert as ten other companies, just with the logo changed.

Although there’s no such thing as a truly unique game, there’s a world of difference between say, having two car racing games, both built from the ground up and just swapping out some basic visual elements (or worse, just adding your logo) on one game to create another virtually identical one for a different brand.

When it comes to creating any form of content to help promote your business, making it as unique as possible is of the utmost importance and generic pre-made content should be avoided.

Each New Version Offers Diminishing Returns

Each time a new version of essentially the same game is released it becomes a harder sell, in terms of the promotion needed to get in front of players, in the first instance. Less players will be interested in playing and less websites, publications and individuals will be interested in linking to or sharing your branded game on social media. Players have already played it and websites that have already linked to or featured a previous version are unlikely to again.

We don’t generally offer reskinned games for these reasons, but one project required a series of advergames to be produced for a client (the original, then 2 more reskinned versions for the same client, to promote other events).

The end result was that each subsequent version ended up doing less than half the daily play numbers of the previous version. It was on a severe downward spiral and I’d expect any additional versions of essentially the same game to follow the same path, to the point where they failed to move the needle at all.

In this case it really wasn’t a problem, because they were all for the same client (in order to maximise their return on the initial investment), anything extra we could squeeze out of the two subsequent partially reskinned versions of the game was a bonus. Using a ready made game from the start, is another story. You don’t know how many other brands have used it previously. You could be the 100th business to use a game, then you have a problem. Also, bear in mind these were fairly significant reskins, not just a logo swap. I’d expect the drop to be significantly greater when just the logo changes.

Custom branded games don’t have this problem. You’re guaranteed to be the first business in that line, so maximising the potential exposure for your brand.

Think Twice Before Going for the Cheaper Option

I hope this makes you think before using a cheaper, off-the-shelf game for your brand. It really is a false economy.