When you think computer games what normally springs to mind? Teenage boys sitting in dark playing shoot ‘em ups, or racing each other in high speed games surrounded by baddies and scantily clad women?
What you are probably more unlikely to imagine is 55-64 year-olds playing games, and even less likely that they are playing a game that involves old cobbled streets and Ken Barlow, but this is, in fact, the reality.
On November 1st ITV is launching an online gaming application for Coronation Street. The new virtual street will be known as Corrie Nation, will launch on Facebook and ITV.com, a month before the soap’s 50th birthday.
When you think about it though this shouldn’t really comes as such as a surprise. We all know how huge Facebook is, it has over 500 million users and a lot of those users have fallen for the world of social gaming.
Take Farmville, Cafe World and Petville. Currently an astonishing 62,073,318 people use Farmville. This is a game that allows members of Facebook to manage a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting virtual crops and trees and raising livestock. It is the most popular game application of Facebook.
Corrie Nation will work in a similar way. The users will compete against each other to build a 2D Weatherfield, where they can add characters which are the same as the ones that are in the show and then do various tasks to get to higher levels.
The makers of Coronation Street have realised that after reading a recent Ofcom study, media consumers are increasingly spreading their attention across multiple devices. Gone are the days that people merely watched a TV show, now they want everything that comes with it, the live updates, the game, the interaction (incidentally Coronation Street is also starting a blog).
According to New Media Age magazine, social games are played more frequently by 55-64 year olds than the age group 18-34 which you would probably expect. Interestingly, what it also discovered was that out of those surveyed, 34% of them have responded to marketing activity and at least 18% have clicked on an ad.
So what does this mean for you? It seems that this new type of gaming, social gaming, which is steadily growing rather than slowing down, is the place to advertise. It’s a great way to engage the consumer.
It was the director of digital production at ITV, Patricia Wagstaff, that came up with Corrie Nation, she said:
“Coronation Street enjoys a unique place in the hearts of the British public and with an appeal which spans generations, the brand has the potential off-screen to match its phenomenal on-screen success,” she said. “Corrie Nation is a great example of engaging with the Coronation Street audience in new ways and exploiting this world-class brand to deliver further revenues to the business.”
She understands that the social gaming world is a means to make money over anything else and at the moment this seems to be the way to go.
The same Ofcom survey, mentioned earlier, revealed that people are watching less TV. The viewing figures for Coronation Street show the same thing, today there are between eight to 12 million viewers per episode, whereas in the late 90s and early 2000s there were 15-20 million per episode.
Sixteen to 24 year olds, instead of watching TV, spend 58% of their media diet on computers, mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets. As the gap between what adults and the youth are doing in the world of social media closes, companies can do what Coronation Street are doing and take advantage of it.
Coronation Street will hopefully gain new viewers and make a lot of money from advertising. Young people like to play these games and the older generation are proven to click on advertisements they see.
As a small company you may not have the budget to set up a social networking game, but what you can do is target those who have and get your name out there with advertising.