The Game Developers Conference is clearly the place for the games industry to get together and talk about all aspects of the business, but it can also be a place to actually market games. Yes, there are booths in the Expo designed to promote games to the assembled industry insiders, but in a bold move mobile/web game publisher SGN took to the streets to get some attention for its newest game, Genies & Gems.
SGN’s newest match-3 puzzle game, Genies & Gems, is available on iTunes, Google Play and Facebook. “Players will have their wishes granted as they play through magical worlds like Hideout Go Seek, Chilled to the Core and Heart of Golden Shadows. With hundreds of levels currently available, Genies & Gems will continue to release 20 spellbinding new levels per week where players can recover lost relics, collect gold bars and see where enchanted keys lead them,” said the company’s press release.
To celebrate the game’s launch, SGN will have a special surprise for San Franciscans and those attending the Game Developers Conference this week. People may get their wishes granted or score some precious metals and gems just walking about in downtown San Francisco.
[a]listdaily caught up with Josh Brooks, SVP of brand strategy and marketing for SGN, to find out more about this promotion.
What led you to decide on a promotional event to launch Genies & Gems?
GDC is an epicenter for the business of gaming. The conference brings talent from all parts of the games industry from around the world. Genies & Gems is our newest game launch, so we decided to celebrate by bringing the adventure to life in the real world. Treasure hunts, quests for jewels and the lore of genies granting wishes appeals to everyone. Deep down, everyone wishes they were a genie. And for a few hours on Wednesday, the magic becomes real.
How does the promotion work? What sort of prizes are you offering, and what’s the total value of the prizes?
The Genie of San Francisco has found his way to the Moscone Center and surrounding blocks for the afternoon. His “genie bottle” bag will be packed with gems, silver, rings, earrings, necklaces and even real silver bars! If you happen to find him—I suggest you make eye contact (unlike Medusa) and wave your arms frantically to get his attention before he floats on by. The “wishes” he’s granting are real and so are the carat weights!
How are you measuring the success of the promotion? Is there a certain number of impressions or people you’re trying to reach?
The promotion for SGN and Genies & Gems is about celebrating the game launch and sharing it with more people. As one of the few global publishers with four or more titles consistently on the top-grossing charts on any given day, we’re proud to be in most people’s pockets and wanted to take an extra step to surprise and delight people in real life.
For those not in San Francisco or at GDC, we’re also using our vast social network to broadcast the fun for everyone to experience. From the new Facebook Live Mentions and Periscope to Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
How does this promotion connect to other marketing efforts for Genies & Gems? What’s the overall marketing strategy?
Genies & Gems is a really well-developed and polished game. We have a lot of exciting things to share—from new levels and adventures to upcoming promotions—over the coming weeks and months. But, because the GDC audience is filled with such talented and passionate creators and game enthusiasts from all over, we wanted to kick off our strategy here with Jesse as our generous genie to celebrate the game’s initial launch.
Will you be doing similar promotions for titles like Cookie Jam?
Games have become brands with real personality and attitude, with fan followings to match. We’ve had a lot of fun with Cookie Jam in the last year with Ken Jeong starring in a series of quirky TV ads that aired both in the US and internationally. Cookie Jam has amassed an audience of over 70 million downloads and this week, we’re treating the GDC audience to an awesome life-size Cookie Jam cover band taking requests outside of the conference and serving up (real) cookies to fuel attendees up on the way to the main hall.
Do you think this kind of promotion is a valuable marketing tool for mobile games in general, or just in certain cases?
Absolutely. The games space is highly competitive and it’s difficult to rise above the noise of what’s hot in-the-moment. These types of promotions really only work when you have a well-oiled marketing machine actively acquiring new users, a strong network of game titles to cross-pollinate to, and strict content cadence that keeps users engaged with new game content weekly. That’s the perfect storm of winning… along with a homepage feature in the App Store or Google Play!
Was this a difficult promotion to devise and execute?
We were all big fans of the Skating Genie in NYC, and were excited about the prospect of him coming to the West Coast to bring the Genies & Gems story to life as he cruised through the city sharing gems and granting wishes—it’s definitely not easy to fly a genie around a packed city during a game conference, but we knew Jesse could pull it off. Part of the fun in working with an uber-prankster like Jesse, is he has no shortage of crazy ideas! We also knew we wanted to make people laugh and have a light moment to enjoy a break during the hustle and bustle of GDC. That’s where the musical-singing Cookie Jammers came in, wearing the costumes that were such a hit in the Ken Jeong Cookie Jam ads.
Any time you come up with an offline promotion for a digital or online product, it becomes a challenge. SGN is a game studio and these things aren’t part of the norm for us. There is always a tendency to over-engineer an event or activity, but at the end of the day—a focus on simplicity and delight gets you where you need to be.