What Are Advergames (aka Branded Games)?

Published: 10 November 2022



Advergames (aka branded games) are essentially video games focused on promoting a particular brand, product or service. Advergames should not be confused with advertising in games (eg banners in-game, “in-game advertising” like digital billboards integrated into games or even in-game product placement). In these examples, the brand is still secondary. With advergames, the brand is the core of the game itself.


Advergame growth accelerated with digital maturity and ad fatigue

Advergames are considered a relatively new phenomenon but they have actually been around for years. The first known advergame to be released was Tapper in 1983, by Anheuser Busch (owner of Budweiser) where the player has to serve beer to customers as quickly as possible. The term “advergame” was however not actually coined until 1999 when the domain “advergames.com” was bought as a channel for companies to showcase their advergames. And it was not until the proliferation of smartphones and digital advertising in the 2010s that advergaming started to take off. This growth has accelerated with increased digital maturity - with irritation at being ‘interrupted’ by formats such as banner or video ads and with advertising striving to meet higher expectations of digital experiences and services overall.


What's in a name?

The terms 'advergame' and 'branded game' are used interchangeably by the market. However, ‘advergame’ can tend to infer a game used as an advertising format (e.g. connected to or even within an ad). Whereas ‘branded game’ can infer higher quality sometimes stand-alone games. The highest quality branded games can even represent a separate revenue stream for the developing brand (eg Burger Kings Sneak King sold 2m copies for $3.99). However, as said, the lines of difference between the two are blurred and here we will focus on similarities rather than differences.


Key elements of advergames:

The majority of advergame titles released now are mobile focussed and free to play. This is in response to the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones - making everyone a potential player.

Because advergames usually run on microsites or landing pages, they load seamlessly on internet browsers, making them easily shareable, via display, social, websites, newsletters etc.

Because advergames are typically mobile focussed, the types of games are usually casual or hyper-casual… so easy to pick up, with simple mechanics and highly engaging and fun.

Advergames are actively chosen to be played by audiences, and therefore offer high attention, engagement and positive connection versus other formats.

Advergames are usually highly customizable. Different advergaming publishers have different processes, but whether designing from scratch or selecting from templates, they allow brands to embed their unique brand style to the game. This can be through the game and it’s mechanics, but also the design.

Advergames are fully measurable - so you can and should look to apply the same metrics you would for any ad or commercial content, for example…
- Buying metrics such as impressions or clicks
- Post-campaign analysis eg surveys looking at awareness, consideration etc and
- Sales and return on investment

But with advergames you can also access platform performance. Key metrics specific to advergames are...

- Number of players

- Game sessions and
- Average playtime

So, if you are looking to engage your audience and connect with them in a positive way, then advergames represent a good solution for your brand. Most people enjoy playing some time type of game, so it's just a working with a partner to develop a great experience, that can be enjoyed and shared, and that will help your brand grow.


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