Video games take us to faraway worlds and thrust us into adventures most would never experience in real life. Being interactive by nature, video games create unique opportunities for experiential marketing, custom-suited to an already engaged fan base. After all—who wouldn’t want to explore their favorite video game for real? In a world where consumers value peer opinions and social media stars over the press, publishers like Microsoft and EA are shifting their marketing efforts toward in-person events. While many such activations take place during obvious gatherings like E3 or San Diego Comic-Con, these particular video game activations did not—but certainly went above and beyond to get fans excited.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Ahead of the game’s launch, Capcom hosted Resident Evil 7: The Experience in London from January 20 to 23—a real-life adventure that plunged fans into a horrifying world of zombies and much, much worse. Following the demos’ story, visitors took on the role of an intern reporter working for a paranormal investigation group called The Sewer Gators. Visitors had just 45 minutes to brave the dark house in search of missing team members, presumably without getting killed in some horrible fashion.
Final Fantasy XV
Lucky fans in the UK got to check out the game a week early and have a bit of experiential fun when Square Enix teamed up with IGN for the Final Fantasy XV IGN Premiere event in London. The exclusive event on November 22 featured life-sized creature statues, game demos and even a potion-making station. For those who weren’t able to attend, there was a one-hour live broadcast from the activation with developer interviews and never-before-seen game content.
In London and at MCM Comic Con, Bethesda hosted a scavenger hunt that sent fans (literally) running toward locations to find replica “bone runes,” the collectible in-game currency used to obtain and upgrade abilities. Along with the runes, fans could pick up invitations to the Karnaca Supper Club—an immersive three-course meal set in the world of Dishonored 2. The activation, hosted by Grub Club, was a huge success and those who attended showed up in cosplay and posted dozens of times across social media. One couple even got engaged at the dinner table!
— Dishonored (@dishonored) November 5, 2016
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Celebrating the launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition, Crystal Dynamics teamed up with Cliff Hodges’ Adventure Out to host Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration survival training. This one-time event led 35 participants into the wilderness of Boulder Creek, California for five hours of survival training that included fire-by-friction, constructing earthen shelters, collecting and purifying water and making a bundle bow for hunting food. Joined by NatGeo Remote Survival host, Cliff Hodges and crew as well as members of Crystal Dynamics’ Rise of the Tomb Raider development team, fans competed for rare prizes and were treated to a BBQ lunch.
Watch Dogs 2
On October 13, Ubisoft invited game fans to an interactive tour of a smart home outfitted with HAUM, the in-game connected home technology used in Watch Dogs 2. The tour was captured on surveillance cameras and streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, where online fans were invited to “hack” everything in the home from the lighting to the music and even the temperature. The event attracted more than 350,000 impressions during the event, according to Lucile Bousquet, senior director of marketing and communications for Ubisoft Canada. To make the event seem more real, Ubisoft coordinated with Canadian news outlets, TSN and RDS, working with Bell Media to simulate the sites being hacked. Bousquet told Media In Canada that as a result, 50 percent of traffic to Ubisoft’s site on October 13 was from TSN and RDS.
A recent study by EventTrack revealed that 98 percent of consumers capture content at live events, and 100 percent of those who capture content share it across their social media networks. While 83 percent of consumers share content from events up to 15 times—nearly half (47 percent) would prefer to share content they captured versus content fed to them by a brand. Experiential marketing allows gamers to meet other fans, share their adventures across social media and help solidify their nostalgia for a brand. All the more reason to get creative and invite fans to experience video game worlds for themselves.
Featured image credit: Phillip Noakes