A whopping 13.41 million units sold across Japan, America, and Europe, in its first 6 weeks, making it the most successful Animal Crossing game ever.
So what’s going on here? Is it simply that we’re inside more often, and therefore we modern-day consumers need entertainment? And how is this even relevant to most of our businesses that aren’t even within the game development industry?
Well, it’s all about the medium. And I’m going to take this time to dissect it for us, because I’m starting to believe that businesses (and by extension, brands) can learn a thing or two about leveraging interaction — and that’s something which games do by design.
Locked Down but Not Locked Out
We’ve turned to games for our dose of social interaction. This isn’t newsworthy per se, but it’s worth thinking: is this going to be the new norm of interaction? Accordingly, we’ve seen apps like House Party gain a surge in downloads and user base. On platforms such as Steam, we’ve seen party game titles like the Jackbox Games series see a spike in sales as well. And I’ve already mentioned Animal Crossing where reports of students celebrating their graduation ceremonies in the game itself has come to light.
The advantage that games pose for the modern-day consumer is immersion — the ability not just to interact, but to be a part of the action. Compare this to the passivity of watching Netflix, there’s enough credible scientific evidence out there that suggests that the act of interaction in games activates and changes parts of the brain that deals with attention and visuospatial skill.
If anything, what we get out of immersing a consumer can be framed as a marketer’s dream. The mere act of interaction ensures that our attention must be held for that moment. With traditional ads, even in the digital sense, we’re slowly becoming desensitized. The big question businesses ask usually include: are my marketing efforts effective anymore?
Part of the allure of games is that we’re never locked out of an experience. Playing is more than just consuming the media, it’s becoming in-sync with the media. There are actions and outcomes, all of which can be seen as a guided experience.