What your business can learn from the boom in online gaming

It’s predicted that the sector will be worth around £119 billion by the end of 2015 - its time to level up or it could be game over.

Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store are packed with a range of games that you can play on the go, from farm-themed sagas to fantasy football, word games to world building. There are a huge number of lessons that small businesses of any type can take from the burgeoning online and mobile gaming market.

Break free

One of the major conundrums that online game makers face is how to make money from their products, when most users expect to get games and apps for free.

A popular solution to this is the “freemium” model, which involves offering most of the content for free, but providing extra features or functionality that you can pay to access. It’s interesting to think about how this model can be applied to other business types.

If you’re struggling to sign up paying customers, consider offering a core service for free (or a low price). Once you’ve got people using your service or buying your products, you could create ‘premium’ options, or additional services that your customers can pay to add.

Mobile matters

Games and apps are so popular because they’re in your pocket and you can access them whenever you need them. You can download a taxi app while you’re waiting for a bus in the rain, or launch your translation app at the very moment when your language knowledge fails.

This provides an important lesson for businesses: access to your products should be easy, instant, and mobile. Not every business needs an app, but you should still make your content and website mobile-friendly and consider mobile as a key advertising channel.

A recent study by Marin Software showed that mobile devices now account for 50% of ad clicks. Plus, the cost per click is usually lower than for desktop and tablets.

Fun & games

It’s clear that brand connection and customer loyalty can be built through games, this could be something to apply to your own business.

If it’s appropriate to the type of industry that you operate in, you could run competitions, create interactive content related to your trade, or even engage your existing customers in simple quizzes or competitions. This can also be a good way of gathering interesting customer data.

You can gamify your business internally with great success - to make staff training and compliance procedures more engaging, or to create an interactive and unintimidating way of sharing improvement ideas.

Millienials

Online games are a great way to reach young audiences. Websites such as Twitch attract hundreds of thousands of viewers each day tuning in to watch people play games online.

Young audiences are getting harder to reach and shun traditional forms of advertising. Many brands are partnering with popular streamers to promote their products alongside all the action of popular online games such as League of Legends and mobile powerhouse Hearthstone. This way businesses are able to reach an audience when they are most receptive, in a time of fun and relaxation for positive reinforcement of their message.

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