Branded Games

At the Gamification Day, which will take place on the 5th of September – so today! I will talk about branded games… Now you may be thinking: “What Jasmin, you are talking about games, after you tried so long convincing people of gamification and what it is…?!” YES, I do…

Sure thing… Gamification is a wonderful thing, which can be used motivating in a business surrounding, in Learnings, in tools or even in real life. Just thinking of VW’s powerful “Fun Theory campaign” or as well thinking of Foldit, Nike+ or you name it. And yes terms are very blurry. Now let’s get to the point of it. In my past years, the things which worked out the best, was, when it actually feels like a game or something very familiar to it. And this is exactly, why and for now it is important to understand not the difference, but what they combine GAMIFICATION & GAMES. See the thing is, what makes games most successful, to be quite frank – there are some things which are so effective, that it is undeniable: narrative & story, epic calling & meaning, ownership & competition. Games are games and gamification is gamification the only difference is, one of these can cost immense money and is more to design to it and the other comes in handier, more to the ground, more business-like.

BUT now, in the days we are living brands have a problem – their past, their history, their culture, their values… This is why new models, new ways, new companies pop up promising new values, new culture and have most the time more to do in the emotional core with games, than you first may think.

ZOMBIES, RUN! – people tend to refer to it as a gamified platform, however, it is more a game and as well states itself as one. A pure gamification would be runtastic from Adidas – which Adidas bought for 220 Million back in 2015, not because of the gamification, but as well of the mindset and the digital mindset, they said at the Bits & Pretzels 2015.

WHY Branded Games

“But now why branded Games, come to the point Jasmin!” Here you go – isn’t it easy and so obvious to see. The digital world we are living in, we grew up in is nothing but a big game – just thinking of the stock market, or politics, business in general or love. Millenials and the generation z is so on competition mode and in this digital games then no other generation before – you know fortnite? – No, then you don’t have kids or you are truly blessed, or just don’t have internet. What it is a huge battle royal and you only get one life – the best or luckiest will win.

What I find stunning is, that for years, this VW campaign is in the news, people still refer to it. And it is the same with epic Games like Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Fall Out, Pokemon GO, Fortnite or you name it. Games don’t need brands, they ARE THE BRAND! Sure they are ads around the game and their release – but think about all the social interactions, the channels, the talks, the videos, the streams, the podcats, and e-sport festivals and groups.

And now think, if a game would be done by a multi-million company, just because they can do it – and all their hidden values they try so desperately to show or sell to their clients are in such a game.



Think of a brand, which is known for child labour and inexpensive clothes, releases a Game. A fashion tycoon imperium Game, in which you need to get to the top, like a simulation about opening stores, build clothes, pay our people and so on. Sure you may at first don’t get that it is the brand, because it is not first about them and they just want you to play the game, to make you understand, how the business works. But after a while it gets more and more obvious – they give you the opportunity to design clothes for the next spring – being a designer and it will be sold in stores, you earn virtual goods – in the game you can decide, if you use your virtual goods for the game as virtual currency or you actually invest it to make the working place for people better or educate a child in the 3rd world with it.

It is just a thought experiment, it may be bold, but just think of it – with such a game, you have the power to CHANGE. This is the power of branded games. It is more than just a game, it may is expensive, it may need a lot of effort, but just think of it, if you doing it right, what we all can achieve. We could make the world a better place by just playing games!


Also published on Medium.