Gaming for Marketing or EVEN Market Research?! – An Interview with Andrew Matlock from Industry Games
Have you ever wanted to have a game developed for a marketing campaign, a website, or maybe even some next generation market research project? Today’s interview is with Andrew Matlock, CEO & Creative at Industry Corporation, a company that does anything and everything involved in the game creating process. Some of you may have heard of or even played their hit Xbox title “Partyboat“. Even if you haven’t heard of this great Waterloo-based company I’m sure you’ll find this brief interview interesting and useful!
What does your definition of “games/gaming” include?
“It includes all manner of objective or reward-based interactive experiences. These experiences need to pose a challenge, and thus a sense of achievement when the gameplay is won. I don’t include interactive banner ads or other forms of ‘light’ rich media – a proper game needs to provide an engrossing and / or addictive experience. On that note, not all our client orders are full games (we’ve done an interactive holiday card, and music composition).” – Andrew
How are games more competitive than traditional outreach methods and who plays these games?
“A game is an invitation to have some free fun. It hasn’t yet been cannibalized by advertising, so it’s still regarded as a safe haven for spending free time. Unlike traditional outreach, the game gives something back. It’s an exchange. Winning the game can offer a promotion or reward, providing a sense of earning. Having users actively participate in this outreach – as opposed to just witnessing it – is a very strong direction to head in.” – Andrew
“It may surprise a lot of people, but the demographics of gamers are just as varied as other forms of entertainment. The gender split is right down the middle, and gamers (especially online gamers) range from very young to old. We have the stats to back this up upon request. Individual genres will best cater to certain target demographics – for instance, if your audience is female and over age 45, puzzle or card games will best capture their attention and interest. An important thing to remember is that you’re not making a game for yourself, but for your target audience. They need it to be challenging for their skill-level but ultimately winnable.” – Andrew
In what situations would a game be most applicable for potential clients?
“We live in the golden age of cross-platform, long-tail media. People love to gobble up brand content from more than a single source. More often than not, a website is the ‘central’ convergence point for an entire brand. Industry Games has an argument that our services are best applied to embedded web games; they can be advertised to bring new eyeballs to the website, maximize the time spent there, collect user data, and act as a natural word-of-mouth vehicle. So any client requiring some extra pull-power, virality, stats, or simply wishing to engage their audience with participation, is right up our alley. Obviously, clients with an existing web presence, and a web-based advertising or outreach regime, are best matched.” – Andrew
“As for the subject matter of the game itself – that’s completely up to the client’s needs! Imagination is the limit when you’re ordering a virtual universe. So you ask yourself, do we need to educate? Promote? Reach out? Give back? Or is it an internal need? Do we need to train our people more effectively? Do we need to create an environment to test social theories, or pull market research?” – Andrew
How could games potentially be used to collect data from participants for new market research?
“This is where we have a real advantage over passive experiences. First of all, games are only played by willing participants. Every interaction within a game can be tracked as a statistic. For example, we worked on a project that relayed the following stats to the client: the total number of sessions played, the average number of replays within each session, the average time spent playing the game, and a leaderboard for the top scorers.” – Andrew
“The fact is that everything can be tracked and logged to a database. One of our greatest value propositions is the ability to grab every desired metric, in realtime. One idea that comes to mind for market research is conducting a survey, but without the survey. By requiring the user to select a series of one-or-the-other options, you’d see which way their interests swing. We could track what they do and don’t do with their virtual tools and abilities, further expanding on those interests. If it was a networked game – where users can interact with other players – those interactions could be tracked for further understanding in the social realm. Once again, imagination is the limit. You tell us what you need to track, and we’ll tell you how we can do it in a non-direct, non-invasive manner.” – Andrew
What is your method of designing games with your clients?
“We have a six-step process which goes from an initial chat to the game’s launch. Read more on our Services page. For the design itself, a client will either want to be hands-on or hands-off. We welcome both approaches; sometimes they have awesome ideas bubbling out, sometimes they prefer us stirring up the magic. Either way, we guide them through all the cause-and-effect event scenarios that the game would provide. Once a plausible, realistic design is outlined to everyone’s excitement, Industry Games creates a formal, in-depth design sheet. This sheet outlines every single miniscule interaction that happens within the game, and goes on to serve as our primary checklist. The sheet is given to the client, who gives it their blessing, or makes revisions. At this stage, they decide whether or not to greenlight the project.” – Andrew
What could someone expect for the budget and timeline of a custom-built game?
“The budget determines the maximum timeline, and the timeline determines the scope of the game. The scope of the game determines the budget, so we’re full circle. For this reason we ask the following questions:
With these three chicken-and-the-egg variables, we can triangulate exactly what can be done for the client. Once we determine a fixed-budget, being able to accurately predict the timeline is always a bit of a gamble for us. But after so many productions, I’m comfortable saying we’re relative experts at making that call. If we go overtime, it’s out of our pocket.” – Andrew
“Typically, a two week Flash or HTML5 project will cost us $5,000 – $10,000 to produce, depending on the complexity of the features and number of staff required. A two week project could be a handful of levels with basic mechanics, a single, dynamically replayable level, an interactive card or planner, or all manner of puzzle or card games. On the flip side, we jump at chances to make fully-fledged, substantially larger projects.” – Andrew
When and why did you get into this business?
“Industry Games was founded in 2008, and we launched the critically-acclaimed Partyboat to Xbox Live. We’re now porting it to PC and Mac. We’ve released or worked on several other digitally-distributed games since then, which still remain part of our schedule. The team consists of idealistic go-getters who knew they wanted to build professional-grade games from a very early age, often learning to do so by their own means. Long story short, we crave the job, and we’re built for the job!
We began client services in the fall of 2010, and were taken aback by how quickly interest accumulated. We’d stumbled upon a vastly underserviced need – games are very complex beasts to create, and here we are with all the necessary tools, skills, and experience. For the client, it’s a fantastic new way to break the mould. For us, we get to associate ourselves with quality brands, and the team loves the mini-sized projects which provide variety to our workplace, keeping things fresh and exciting.” – Andrew
“Thanks again for taking the time to read my latest market research industry-related interview!”