Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Social Games Offers: All That Glitters...

I found this article published on Techcrunch about a Comscore study concerning giving gamers the chance to perform marketing actions in exchange for virtual currency in social games. Here is the gist of it:

35% of the survey respondents said that they engage in "marketing actions" to earn virtual currency (such as watching a video, filling out a survey, etc.), and 53% said they be willing to consider marketing action for currency if given the choice.

Studies like this really bother me. First of all, the study was sponsored by Offerpal, one of the companies with a product that lets social game developers integrate marketing offers into their games. Let's gloss over the blatantly obvious conflict of interest here and, for a brief moment, take the results at face value.

To the author's credit, from a gamer's perspective marketing offers are a more appealing solution to getting game currency than handing over a credit card and making a real cash purchase.

And I suspect that such companies as Offerpal will continue to provide evidence that yes, users do in fact use offers to get game currency if they are available.

But what they won't ever make public is any unbiased analysis - an audit, if you will - of what value the offer sponsor gets from these offers.

Every gamer is predisposed to game an existing system, i.e. learning a system and taking advantage of it. That's what makes them good gamers. Whether it means clicking on a link to get currency and immediately closing the opened page, providing a fake or spam email address, switching browser tabs while an ad plays, or clicking random answers on a survey, a gamer will get their currency using the path of least resistance.

Ergo, there is very little return on marketing investments made through these offers. But that won't stop Offerpal, and companies like it, from selling the fake ROI for as long as they can milk it.

© Jeremy Buehler and Rogue Tendencies ( 2010.

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