With less than 10 days to go, Reece Charlton details how Free-To-Play games are supercharging brand activations for the World Cup…
The FIFA World Cup is arguably the greatest sporting event on earth. The football festival has four weeks of non-stop action scheduled, with the best national sides featuring on the global stage. Five of the last six World Cup finals has amassed over 1billion viewers around the world, while the average viewership throughout the tournament hovers around the 3.5billion mark. With such a huge audience opportunity, forward-thinking brands are currently activating their World Cup play; how they can leverage the event to amplify their goals, whether that is scoring new customers, playing tika-taka with engaging content for their current userbase or focused on gegenpressing their revenue numbers.
The biggest brands from across the globe have traditionally gotten their name endorsed by drawing up big sponsorship packages with FIFA or spending millions strategically placing adverts during the half-time break.
The digital frontier has exponentially shifted the advertising spectrum in the recent editions of the competition with a wide range of online options to drive awareness and fan engagement. However, much like the wider macro-advertising network, brands have often pumped hundreds of thousands across congested ad networks, riddled with bots, with little more to show for it than weak measures of reach and number of impressions.
Now, whilst brand awareness is of course important, research clearly shows that these types of interactions, more often than not, leave little in the way of lasting retentiveness with the consumer. They are becoming numb to banner ads in general and with the dawn of web3, brands need to reposition their online strategy with digital experience being at the front and centre of this.
These digital experiences can be amplified with Free-To-Play Gaming (F2P) which turbo charges fan engagement with your brand in their quest to top the leaderboard of contests. Or, at the very least, beat their friends and colleagues!
What are Free-To-Play games and what value do they bring?
Everything you need to know about F2P games is in the name – fans participate in a no-risk, all reward gaming environment. The no-barrier entry is a straightforward way to entice customers on mass to engage and allows brands to collect first party data within the sign-up process. Identity data such as a customer’s name, email address and date of birth is enriched with their selection of favourite teams, players or anything you want to survey them with. A user profile can also be overlaid with their game behavioural data so you can start to build an incredibly rich understanding of your customer and their engagement to your brand.
For sportsbook operators, this behavioural data is particularly useful to personalise messaging to them to upsell specific offers. If a user is backing a particular player or team in the game, then messaging can be used to back that specific player/team within their sportsbook e.g. “Backing Ronaldo to be the Golden Boot winner? Here’s a +1400 offer with $50 free bets”. For traditional non-bettors, the gameplay offers an intuitive way to prime their selections so they can best understand odds and betting terms. A real educational piece for customers in recently opened markets in North America.
On a commercial side, brands are also leveraging games to broaden their partnerships with Sponsors. We are seeing more games having a “Powered By” line with a clients sponsor name and branding enriched throughout the gameplay experience to synergise the brands.
What Free-To-Play games work best for your goals?
With F2P games becoming a go-to tool for fan engagement, there are a broad range of different games available to best fit your goals and solve your pain points. For example, the Cincinnati Bengals required an in-depth game that would keep fans using their app throughout the week so opted for a Fantasy-style game. The PGA TOUR, on the other hand, wanted to best meet their partnership needs with Pointsbet and chose a Picks game to best warm those users up to the sportsbook.
To meet your gamification requirements, here is a quick rundown of the games tailored to meet your objectives…
Fantasy sports has risen to prominence over the last decade or so with over 40 million people playing some form of fantasy NFL product across the globe. The Premier League’s version of fantasy football has seen over 10 million player register so far in the 2022/23 season alone.
The aspect of fantasy game is simple – a fan picks a squad of players that they think will score the highest number of points in relevance to the scoring as possible, in attempt to rise through the rankings whether it be in their mini-league or world leaderboard.
Here at Low6, we decided to revolutionise the standard fantasy game by offering users pack openings, fantasy points scoring and the opportunity to acquire and leverage non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
UltimateFan issues and rewards Users with ‘packdrops’ which reveal player and team cards to create lineups for each World Cup contest. With points being earned from the player’s real-life performances, Users compete on a global leaderboard to win prizes as well as the ability to create and join Invitational Leagues to compete against their friends, family and colleagues.
The game rapidly picked up a cult following amongst football fans and by the start of the Premier League season had become the Number 1 Top Grossing Sports App in the UK and the number two most downloaded UK Sports App. By the end of the season, the game had engaged with over 100,000 users and was recipient of “Innovation of the Year” (EGR Marketing & Innovation iGaming Awards 2021) and “Virtual and Fantasy Sports Operator” (EGR Operator Awards 2021).
One of the many benefits of UltimateFan is the game’s engines and mechanics flexibility with its ability to adapt, not just to different tournaments but different sports as well. Indeed, UltimateFan has been rolled out into the North American market as a B2C fantasy game for the NFL season as well as a white label game for multiple sports franchises. The core UltimateFan product has been tailor made to best engage with their fanbase as well as meet their commercial requirements.
Our partnership with the Cincinnati Bengals is the perfect example of this. We delivered a fully branded gaming experience that implemented the UltimateFan NFL game, with an adjusted algorithm that allowed a Users’ starter pack to hold a stronger chance of containing Bengals players.
The Bengals were also able to deliver their partnership with Betfred in the game, with branding embedded throughout as well as optimised CTA’s to place a bet via the operator featuring throughout the gameplay.
Moreover, UlitmateFan is an ideal product for brands to use to engage with fans throughout the World Cup. The ability to buy and sell players and change and alter your lineup to best reflect upcoming matches will create and welcome a continually active userbase with a strong retention rate. It truly takes fan acquisition and engagement to a whole new level.
PICK ‘EM GAMES
Arguably the simplest of the games on offer here, the Pick‘em game offers plenty of creative freedom for brands.
The game allows users to make predictions on designated match outcomes to accumulate as many points as possible e.g. How many goals will Kane score? Who will win, Brazil or France? Will Neuer keep a clean sheet? The more points a player attains, the increase in likelihood of winning a bigger share of the prize pool.
Each contest can include special prizes, such as tickets for upcoming games, autographed merchandise and gameday experiences. As well as a global leaderboard, fans can create their own private leagues so their Picks can compete with their family, friends, and co-workers.
The Pick’em games can easily be reskinned to suit a certain brand and team, with its simplicity allowing players with any level of sporting knowledge to play. It is a perfect tool for pre-match engagement, building up discussion and hype for the upcoming game as well as enticing more users into signing up due to its simplicity.
To date, Low6 has built games and forged partnerships with some of the biggest sports teams and organisations on the planets after providing them with their own branded Pick ‘Em games.
The likes of the PGA TOUR, LEARFIELD, UFC as well as the NFL’s Cincinatti Bengals and the Los Angeles Chargers and the NBA’s Detroit Pistons have all joined forces with Low6 with the aim of promoting their own branded Pick‘em game to their respective fan bases.
The games have proven to be a hit among sports fans, with over two million entries being made across our gamification suite to date. The Pick‘em games also hold a high retention rate, with each user averaging around 10 entries across the platform.
Using the structure of the World Cup tournament, players can make their picks to a set round of questions for each matchday.
Whereas UltimateFan and Fantasy games rely on active engagement throughout a tournament, a Bracket is the perfect pre-tournament game to interact with fans ahead of kick-off.
This game is perfect for round-robin tournaments such as the World Cup, NCAA March Madness and the NFL Playoffs and can even be implemented for contests such as the Kentucky Derby.
The aim is simple – a fan must guess which team will win in their group games and at the knockout stage of the tournament. The winner is simply the one who gets the most selected winners right.
It is the perfect tool for engagement ahead of a big tournament, as it creates discussion and hype for an upcoming event as well as encouraging players to do their research and make informed choices before the tournament gets underway.
The Bracket game is a tried and tested method on paper across sporting communities and it even goes down well with the likes of workplaces and families.
Its simplicity and retention are once again the game’s selling points, with players of all abilities easily able to enter while being able to consistently track their progress throughout the tournament.
Quick fire quizzes can be an ideal accompaniment to one (or more!) of the above predictor games.
What year did Zidane get sent off for Headbutting an opponent? Which country has been in every tournament since its inception? How many years since England lifted the trophy?
Test your audience on their World Cup knowledge between live games to keep fans coming back for more.
Fans simply select which answer they think is correct and compete against others in a global leaderboard for Trivia supremacy.