Social gaming has come a long way from the underground game sessions of Dungeons & Dragons. Gone are the days of huddling around a table in your mother’s basement, ignoring her constant inquiries of whether or not you and your friends want a snack. The newest wave of social gaming has taken to the streets, bursting the solitary bubble of popular mobile game experiences and roping in users from all walks of life.
One example of this innovative social gaming trend comes straight out of Google’s Niantic Labs (@NianticProject). Ingress is an MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) that can run on an Android smartphone, removing the limitation of a clunky game console or laptop. Not unlike World of Warcraft, there are two factions that compete against each other, but the goal of the game is to control territory.
In order to gain a territory, the faction needs to control a portal – typically associated with real-world landmarks. Location is key in this game – you cannot control a portal unless you visit that location to claim it, and you cannot properly defend it from the opposing faction unless you are physically close enough. This requires a degree of commitment from players, but also encourages people to involve others – if, for instance, a friend works in a building next to a prized portal, adding them to your faction is only logical.
Now, the premise is neat and all, but what can we learn from this? Ingress accomplishes what many MMOGs do not – it utilizes the spatial affordance provided by smartphone GPS to encourage exploration and physical gameplay. Not only does Ingress appeal to gamers, it actually gets them out of their seats. When was the last time you were able to pry your gamer friend away from the computer or TV?
This mindset should be applied when thinking about our own agency’s projects. We are all too familiar with the capabilities of our smartphones, but do we leverage them to the fullest extent? Our phones have way more to offer than a touchscreen for flinging birds or slicing fruit – what about a Costa Rica* (@visit_costarica) scavenger hunt that takes you to lesser known landmarks and creates a customizable photo album from your check-in photos? Or a Visit Orlando* (@VisitOrlando) app where you collect virtual tokens from different rides, which can be used for free snacks or souvenir tickets?
In addition to the utilization of geolocation, Ingress is successful in creating an immersive gaming experience with augmented reality, also known as AR. Unlike virtual reality, AR overlays content on top of the user’s camera view, allowing for the content to be displayed in the user’s surroundings. When combined with location, augmented reality provides a virtually limitless platform. Augmented points of interest a la Yelp Monocle? Check. Real-time augmented gameplay similar to Ghostbusters Paranormal Blast? Why not?
“We believe that interest in Facebook-based gaming may have reached a negative inflection point as more casual gamers migrate to mobile platforms,” Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a research report discussing Zynga’s downward spiral. If the masses are fleeing their Farmville farms, we should prepare our mobile experiences to give them a new platform to call home.
*The Costa Rica Tourism Board and Visit Orlando are clients of 22squared
Facebook’s business model just hit a stumbling block, as the social network is being forced to let users opt out of having their likenesses repurposed as endorsements in Sponsored Stories ads. The requirement of opt out controls comes as part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit where five Californians said they did not consent to having their names, faces, and activity used to promote companies who paid Facebook.
To celebrate the release of Justin Bieber’s new album, Mercury Music has joined forces with Blippar to offer an exclusive augmented reality (AR) experience – triggered by the ‘Believe’ album artwork. This is a world-first for a global artist of this magnitude, offering fans around the world an exciting opportunity to hear tracks from his new album and unlock exclusive virtual content and features.
Facebook has created a new feature that lets users find friends and potential friends nearby. Initially called “Friendshake” and also accessible through a URL that is the abbreviation of “find friends nearby” (http://fb.com/ffn), it’s another step in Facebook furthering its reach into mobile, and creating services to meet new people — rather than building up more connectivity with the ones you already know.
Camera is Facebook’s newest mobile app for iOS, and it puts the many photos our friends post every day into one place. Like Instagram, photos are arranged in chronological order, and you can add your own photos directly from the app.
In what may become a signifier of the true beginning of the season, Nike has ushered in the Euro Cup with an epic commercial featuring the biggest names in soccer. The ad features a match between the Netherlands and France, but the game is interrupted when a group of young players crash the proceedings.
Band-Aid Magic Vision, a free app for iPhones and iPads, is linked to Muppets Band-Aids that already are widely available. After a bandage has been applied, children can use an iPhone or iPad and, within the app, point the device at the bandage, much like scanning a QR, or quick response, code, those pixilated boxes on ads, posters and packages. When children look at the screen, a Muppet character appears to emerge from the bandage.
In Colombia, Coca-cola promoted its online radio station Coke FM via a live concert where the audience could literally ‘download’ the band by downloading songs online. The stunt, via Ogilvy & Mather Bogota, saw the artists (a local band with a new album) suspended 50m above the stage. Every time the audience downloaded a song, the band played it and came down 10 meters, until they reached ground level with their fans.
House Beautiful is letting users post photos from its print edition directly to Pinterest using smartphone apps, the latest effort by a magazine to make print more interactive.
Silicon Valley startup Pinterest raised $100 million from a group led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc, valuing the company at about $1.5 billion and underscoring the huge investor appetite for social-networking companies.
Guinness has managed to make pouring beer a social. Introducing the new QR Code Glass. Pour the stout into the glass, and the QR code is visible. Use a lighter color beer, and it doesn’t work.
Penguin Books recently unveiled a surprising partnership with Zappar App, an augmented reality entertainment channel, to bring four novels from the English Library to life. Augmented reality, known as “AR,” is type of virtual reality that overlays objects and scenes in the real world with digital information.
Phygital: adj. an object or experience that combines the physical world with the digital world. ex. “We really ought to make this print ad more phygital.”
“You got your physical world in my digital!” “You got your digital stuff in my real world!”
Like the old Reese’s peanut butter cup ads, today’s digital and physical worlds are two great tastes that taste great together. In fact, if you’re not planning them together, then you’re not thinking like a consumer.
The first screen we turn to (mobile) plusses many of our activities these days. We click to watch movie trailers and buy tickets on the way to the theater. Dinner reservations? Made with our thumbs of course. But that’s all happening now; it’s going to expand. So what’s next for Phygital? Three things: NFC, AR, and a digital layer in physical product design.
NFC (near field communication) is magic tech just waiting for savvy brands to plug in. Imagine, you walk through a conference and business card info leaps into your phone, untouched. You pay your bus fare by waving your phone over a sensor, again, touchless. They’re already doing it in China. Imagine keyless entry into your office, not with a separate access card, but with your phone. Imagine capturing a hi-res, authorized, digital work of art as a souvenir, while you stand in front of the real thing. The big buzz these days is with Google wallet. But we’ll see other innovative brands using NFC in crazy ways in the future. Like logging and rewarding customer behaviors in gamified campaigns, passively – automatically. Look out Shopkick, with your proprietary in-store scanners (a big investment for retailers); NFC has the potential to eat your lunch. Best of all – NFC means automated Social spread for mass promotion of a simple action. Whenever your customer gets close to your brand (in-store, at an event), it could trigger a check-in that lets the world know, with content and sentiment attached. Touchless. For example, our client Baskin Robbins could let fans “like” a flavor in store by waving their phone by the ice cream case, and that branded action gets spread to their friends. The ideas we see in 2012 will be much better, of course.
Have we seen the end of augmented reality? Not likely. Because it’s Phygital; adding digital awesomeness to your walk through the mall or car lot. One example that shows us AR’s potential was the walk through Central Park. A crude QR code triggered awesome content from park events over the years. Early examples of AR tools will gain adoption as they get easier to use, and more rewarding. It’s easy to imagine an alternate reality game with views into a secret layer of existence, finding clues through your phone in a ghost world, for example. Too weird? How about simple x-ray simulators, virtual try-ons for clothes, or virtual test drives with pop-up car specs? Today, we check prices with RedLaser – but tomorrow we’ll trigger entire experiences, entertainment, heck, even a personal message from world leaders (see Esquire’s 2/12 cover). Or Cobie Smulders. Again, all of this will automatically trigger social spread, turning the physical world into a digital action-cast. Big brother is watching you, and the customer service is impeccable. (For more great AR inspiration, check out T-Immersion’s reel – , or watch AR beat flash-mobs here, or turn your browser into a drone soldier.)
On the flip side, our physical stuff will keep getting more digital. Look at Nike. Their new FuelBand and SportWatch turn your runs into branded social media impressions. As Fortune reports (2/14/12), Nike “can follow them (users), build an online community for them, and forge a tighter relationship with them than ever before.” These are products of Nike’s “Digital Sport” division. A mad laboratory of Phygital ideas. Maybe one day your spatula will speak recipes and post to Facebook how your souffle’ turned out. In all physical products there’s an opportunity to add digital content, utility, and sharing. If you’re a supply-chain innovator, there’s a massive gap here for a standardized “digital add-on.” (It could be the next billion-dollar idea that digitizes the world – not just your house, but your dog’s collar, your car tires, your deodorant, your tennis racket. Here’s an example of adding digital audio to anything … now, imagine the gadget that could add content and social spread to anything.) Yes, things are going to get weird. Done right, consumers will be captivated. These ideas will come from client product labs, vendors, agencies, and start-ups. If you’re in the idea business, add this to your scope. The digitization of the physical world will try to assist us, befriend us, and tell the world what we’re up to … i.e. automate “word of mouth.” These ideas are exponential not only because they are things we’ve never seen before, but each one is bespoke, micro-targeted, and infinitely shareable.
If you need more convincing of the power of “Phygital,” I have two words for you: Xbox Kinect.
I leave you with this, a branded experience for T-Mobile. (Not totally new, but the second viewing is just as fun.)
(Thanks to our Social team, @ChrisTuff and @hellojustinoh for their thoughts on this post. Word.)
You might need to be of a certain age to appreciate it, but if you are, you won’t find a more enjoyable 90 seconds on the internet today than you will playing Perfect Strangers: Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now. In it, you’ll control Balki Bartokomous as he tries to collect enough stars to help you achieve your dream. Failure results in a poorly pronounced version of said dream — and we won’t spoil what happens if you collect all the stars.
Glancee makes a mobile phone app for social discovery, similar to Highlight. Download it, hook it up with Facebook and it will tell you if your friends are nearby … who needs people to check in when you can stalk them?
Facebook hasn’t said anything about this acquisition, so it’s not clear how Facebook will use the tech — if it will keep Glancee around as an independent product or not.
Check out this Future Lions 2012 entry by Iris Gavric & Daniel Otterbein. Proposed for Absolut Vodka, they’ve attempted to create movement called Absolut Inspire, an Augmented Reality Street Art App designed to create a new world without creative limitations.
Milk, Please! connects users with others nearby who are going to the store, or are already there. Users can request for the shopper to purchase something like bread, milk, or eggs, and drop off the item at their home or office. The innovative service is also eco-friendly as it reduces the carbon footprints of unnecessary trips.