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In mobile games, it’s the race for the best brand IP

(Image credit: Erik Mclean/Unsplash)

Every day, thousands of new apps are launched on the App Store and Google Play, and the majority of them are mobile games. How does one become a “known” in a mobile gaming world filled with unknowns? The quickest way is to leverage what is already known and trusted: the brand’s intellectual property.

Branded IP is everywhere, from movies and TV shows to cartoons, fashion, sports and music. The Simpsons, Kim Kardashian, Fallout, Walking Dead and Marvel are among the most popular examples of developers and publishers creating mobile games based on the characters and scenarios of existing brands.

And it’s not just an occasional blockbuster: around 30% of the top 100 games use the brand’s intellectual property, as do 24% of the top 200. If you include existing game titles such as well-known PC, console, and arcade games, that number jumps to 43%, according to GameRefinery.

Benefits of Trademark IP in Mobile Games

Customer acquisition costs drop dramatically when consumers can instantly recognize the brand and associate with the game. The stronger the connection of the IP or brand to its audience, the stronger the return on investment.

Developers also benefit from the brand’s independent trajectory and growth. They can keep the game fresh and exciting as new storylines develop and use branded campaigns to highlight new features, increasing player retention.

A good example of this is MGM Studios and Legally Blonde. The game is a combination of choice-based puzzles and narrative mechanics intertwined with themes and messages from the films. It allows users to bring an iconic character to life and tell their own version of the story and, when Legally Blonde 3 spell in May, game creators can ride this wave of Hollywood buzz to get even more downloads and loyal users.

How Mobile Games Improve Brand IP

Branded IP in mobile games isn’t just about expanding reach or expanding money. It is also about brand expansion.

Yes, mobile app developers have good reason to license well-known characters and storylines for their own benefit. But the brand also benefits.

It reaches new audiences in the most engaging entertainment format: active play. It also generates a new or additional revenue stream through license fees and gains another marketing channel.

It also creates an opportunity to create something fresh and exciting, which, in today’s oversaturated entertainment landscape with more options than ever, is needed to reclaim an inactive audience that is distracted by outings. bright and shiny that happen every day.

Examples of successful brand plays

One brand that has really led the charge in this area is Lego. Their main business is still setting construction, but they use the game to build their brand. As early as 2018, they partnered with Warner Bros. for launch a new IP specially designed for Chinese users.

In addition to the free-to-play mobile racing game, the company has produced a range of obstacle courses, building sets, action figures and a board game – as well as an immersive online game and one created for kids. consoles like Nintendo and PlayStation. This, to me, represents a brilliant execution of a full range of entertainment and interactive options, where there really is something for everyone.

Lego is enjoying huge success in the connected and dual digital space, recently announcing a brand new partnership with Fortnite maker Epic Games.

In the US, we’ve also seen massive hits like Marvel, Dragon Ball and Star Wars, to name a few.

An interesting example of mobile gaming fueling the growth of the franchise itself was Star Trek Fleet Command. It was released in 2018, originally based on the JJ Abrams films, but has since introduced content from the recent Discovery and Picard TV series from Star Trek. At the end of 2021, its creator Scopely and Viacom CBS launched the PC versionwith players able to switch seamlessly between PC and mobile.

What does this mean for the brand? A few years ago, the ratings for Star Trek: Discovery were “a disaster.“Today, it’s the flagship original lineup on Paramount+ and it’s one of the most watched series.

Sometimes it also works in reverse, where new game IP is exploited for film and television. The Last of Us, Castlevania, Fallout, League of Legends, Borderlands, and Mario are examples where the game’s IP has moved to other mediums.

Is this the right tactic for your brand?

But what if your brand doesn’t lend itself to borrowing from an existing mobile game or integrating yours into a game? Will a Mr. Clean mobile game work well, let alone make sense? Making games is tough, and it’s not for all brands, especially with the added challenge of finding the right developer who can preserve the core of your brand identity. Even big brands and agencies have failed to identify and select the right publisher.

So how do you tap into this massive market if you can’t easily create your own? Announce it!

Instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to license or create your own game, use playable ads to replicate the levels of interest and engagement users get from gameplay. Even if your brand doesn’t have obvious characters or gameplay, you can still participate in the space through simple, playable creations.

Sheeva Banton is Vice President, West Coast, AdColony.

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