At Turner Media Innovations, we understand that kids’ gaming habits differ greatly from older gamers. Parents tend to see console games purchases as a gift for special occasions. From birthdays, school holidays, exam success through to the all important Christmas period, kids’ games purchases run on a completely different purchasing cycle to the rest of the population.
With many gifting periods throughout the year, we’re seeing a notable uplift in sales of gaming titles for kids. Take the most recent UKIE Chart-Track Top 40 video games chart (Week 10, 2011) for example.
Not only are the two of the Top Three titles children games – Nintendo’s Pokémon Black and White – but kids and family games accounted for half of the titles in the week’s Top 10, including Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2, EA’s FIFA 2011 and THQ’s uDraw Studio.
Outside the Top Ten, the share of kids and family games increases to over 60 per cent with titles such as Ubisoft’s Dance Juniors, Disney’s Toy Story 3, Namco Bandai’s Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction, Nintendo’s Art Academy and Microsoft’s Kinect Sports.
The growth in the family entertainment market and new genres represent a logical approach in targeting a broader audience. Although this genre growth isn’t a completely new trend, it’s an important advance for a maturing industry.
Indeed, by 2009 four of the Top Five global titles were classified as 3+ or 7+. These included Nintendo’s Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Bros Wii and Wii Fit (Source: Top Global Market Report 2009).
Parents recognise that by participating in game sessions with the family, they can enjoy a fun, shared experience.
However, has the industry kept up in the way it showcases products to their increasingly diverse audience? As technological boundaries are pushed, getting your content out in innovative ways on digital platforms is a pivotal part of the process to engage consumers over and above traditional forms of advertising.
Online activity should be seen as a given for any marketing campaign. Playing online games is the No.1 activity on www.cartoonnetwork.co.uk and there is a real opportunity to bring console games to life online. We know children engage with characters, whether from their favourite TV show, video game or film. We also know they enjoy watching game footage.
So this provides publishers with a real opportunity to share content and build a dedicated fanbase across specific kids titles. By leveraging content, it is possible to go beyond the norm, drive engagement and ultimately deliver unit sales.
PLAYING FOR FREE
The internet, behind TV, now represents the second most important activity of children each day in terms of after school leisure time. Keep in mind that in 1998 just three per cent of kids aged five to 12 accessed the internet; by 2011 this has grown to 86 per cent (Source: Toon Tracks 1998 and 2011).
Once online, kids want one thing: games, with 80 per cent of five to 12’s playing games as their favourite online activity (Source: Toon Tracks 2011). In short, kids expect to be entertained, inspired and engaged. Not only this, but they want it for free.
Ubisoft’s promotion for Raving Rabbits Travel in Time with Turner Media Innovations represents an excellent example of free branded entertainment. We created a brand new engaging online game for Ubisoft’s new release – Rabbid Maker. It was hosted on The Cartoon Network website and was seeded to http://rabbids.uk.ubi.com/. The average time spent engaging with the content was between seven to eight minutes.
So, we know children and families are a vital demographic to the games industry but are they being reached effectively as consumers? 81 per cent of children four to 14 years old own consoles, with the majority likely to own a handheld (Source: TMI Gaming Project 2010). And as kids under 11 account for over 26 per cent of all games sales (Source: NPD, Jan-Sep 2009), we can see the importance of addressing this audience effectively.