SimCity Social’s success in political economy

For the past few weeks, I have been following the integrated communication strategy through a Facebook video game called the SimCity Social. The game is the extension of it’s famous original game the SimCity where the player works as the mayor of the city, who is in charge of building infatuations, public facilities, houses, and create employments. The mayor’s responsibility between the online version and the original one are slightly different. The online version has been simplified from the original version to fit the Facebook game format in aiming for greater access amongst casual gamers. Not only the interactive system of how the game functions but also the fact that it allows players to connect with their Facebook friends leading to bonds between each players through their interaction with the game. This generates a forced word of mouth amongst the network. The reason I said forced is because; the game itself allows players to request ‘gifts’ from their peers. This is also the way they generate the other players to keep playing the game and motives them to play the game daily.

With continuous visits from their casual and usual players allow the game to become a part of their daily routines. The traffic flow and the popularity of the game shows that the game became a new media channel that has it’s own group of subscribers. With a strong audience base, the game was enables to attract companies’ marketing team to use SimCity Social as one of their medium as part of their integrated marketing communication strategy. The advantages of this media channel in comparison of many others are the fact that customers online or gaming behaviour can be closely tracked for example the number of time they visited the game and/or their purchasing behaviour within the game (such as buying game’s Diamonds and SimCash with real money). Further more, before the player and access the game, they must give permission for the game company to access their personal information. This includes demographics and interests, which is beneficial since the game company could use or sell this information to other brands for commodity. Companies would then be possible to use this information for their potential customer’s insights. Another great this about this method of audience research is the fact that everything is quantitative, however the data might not be absolutely accurate due to the fact that a lot of gamers tend to have false account for games and or multiple accounts to send more gifts to themselves.

In the following section I will demonstrate how the process works:
Oftentimes, players need to be subscribe to, likes, or sign up for a product or a brand in order to claim the reward which is relevant to game players and fits will with the narrative of the game.

Do any of your brands need SimCity Social as part of your communication strategy?

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4 Responses to SimCity Social’s success in political economy

  1. Qingwei says:

    Very interesting, Pamme! This article sheds light upon how games became a battle ground for marketers. And when social media and video games are combined, the marketing value doubles. The attributes of social media facilitate the marketers to gain access to users’ information and even their friends’ information and the fascination of video games provides other brands the possibility to gain more fans through offering incentives.

    I was a little bored when I checked my social media platforms and found invitations sent from my friends to video games as I was not interested in video games on social media. But I might have encountered another form of ads in video games more often. I downloaded several games on my iPhone and tablet. In some racing games, I encountered some billboards along the way after I chose the city. I don’t know whether it’s a imitation of the real setting in that city or the imbedded ads.

    The Obama campaign ran ads in 18 video games to appeal to players. And a lot of brands began to expand their marketing into the video games. But I am wondering whether the embedded ads in some violent games will impair the brand image. I found some research that confirmed my thought. Although players enjoy the violent games, they might hold negative attitudes towards the brands that imbed ads in this kind of games and feel hard to recall the brands because they are too concentrated in playing the games. Hence, although video games are an attractive platforms for marketing, it will be a great challenge to choose the right games that fit your brands.

    • pamme says:

      Thank you for your respond Qingwei.

      First of all, I understand that receiving invitations from games that you are not interested in can be very irritating. I have the same feeling. I believe a limitation of these games are the fact that it only works with those people who actually plays the game. All those Diamonds and/or other prices mean nothing to the others.

      Second of all, It is important for a brand to chose the right game to market your brand. What I think SimCity Social did a great job was the fact that they have integrated their client well into the theme and nature of the game. For example, creating Dunkin Donuts’ store within the player’s city to claim prize. It is important for the brand to be truly integrated with the game rather than acting like a banner that doesn’t goes with anything else on the page.

      Marketing and advertising today needs to be entertaining and discrete than ever before since people have changed and became more aware of the different marketing techniques. I believe we are living in an interesting age and in a period where social media, political economy and interactive media are changing the way in which brands and consumers behave.

  2. mtsang says:

    Interesting topic choice. It reminds of our class discussion, where it was mentioned that video games have been attracting a huge amount of advertisers, and the in-game advertising market is estimated to grow to $1 Billion globally by 2014!

    For Sim City to join the free Facebook game business, it seems like the logical step for them to try to gain revenue through advertising. They seem to have successfully integrated a lot of brands and product placements into their social game, but I question how successful such integrations will be for the brands in the long run.

    I can see the value for Dunkin’ Donuts allowing the users to build their restaurant, and sell their coffee. However, I don’t know how useful it is for Century 21 to make the users have to ‘like’ their Century 21 Facebook Fan page in order to gain SimCity currency. Facebook pages is a great way for businesses to connect and learn more about their loyal fans. So when actually Century21 fans are mixed with SimCity users who may have no interest in the company, Century21 actually loose out on learning about their actual fans and target consumer demographics.

    Overall, i think these Facebook social games can be gimmicky at times, and can easily step over the line and be annoying and a turn-off to users. As an increase amount of social games are appearing on Facebook, I believe that seamlessly integrating a brand or a product into a game’s storyline will be the key to gain popularity and profitability in the long run.

  3. saijiali says:

    Thanks for sharing this Pamme,
    I found it really interesting that now games use all sorts of method to engage the player.
    I have always been a fan of computer games and I do think that this method is effective to some extends. I think it is very cleaver of the game company that they now have the access to players personal information.This means money in today’s environment.
    On the other hand, as a player or a customer, we always have to be careful of what to give out to the public in this age.
    anyway, thank you for sharing this !
    loved it.