PlayStack: How AR title Snatch could bridge the gap between games and advertisers

Vishaal Vadher is product owner for Snatch, a new AR game from London-based games publisher PlayStack.

It’s about time that brands sit up and start taking note of what is going on in the games industry. A sector that has seen such growth and engendered such cultural influence makes it a genuine tool for marketing, and an effective force for engagement. What’s painfully ironic to me is that advertisers are desperately trying to reach gamer audiences and yet they still don’t notice what methods work for that market.

Surely if games have taught the advertising world anything, it’s that interaction lies at the heart of this market. Yet brands still try to infiltrate with traditional means – banner ads, auto-play videos, pop-ups. That’s not interaction, that’s interruption.

Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t one of those cliched campaigns for ‘gamification’. Really it’s not. This is about understanding the viability of enjoyable and genuinely engaging marketing campaigns that give consumers what they want. Not what they try to avoid.

“Why are brands missing the obvious? Stop annoying your audience! While targeted ads serve a purpose, they are intrinsically unwanted, and exceptionally ignorable.”


The high street is changing, and brands are looking to create real physical footfall in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace. They need to leverage creativity and uniqueness to capture the attention of a skittish clientele.

This audience is savvy and suspicious of corporate influence. They love to explore the new and optimise their world, closely looped into culture and lifestyle. Their clarity about the things they love and the brands they covet are obvious, and they are impatient with anything that contravenes their interest.

So why are brands missing the obvious? Stop annoying your audience! While targeted ads serve a purpose, they are intrinsically unwanted, and exceptionally ignorable. Take a leaf out of the games industry’s book and start giving people things that they want to see.


Snatch in action

At PlayStack, we really believe in the power of games to deliver tangible change to the brands that we work with. We’ve optimised our next project, Snatch, to grab this opportunity. Snatch is a new mobile game that uses augmented reality. It offers an enhanced and playful view of people’s world, where players hunt for parcels in real-world locations. These parcels contain mystery prizes from Snatch’s brand partners. It can be high street discounts, products, experiences, subscriptions and exclusive offers.

Once a parcel has been collected by a player, they’re challenged to protect and defend it from others for six hours in order to unlock the reward, ensuring the consumer stays engaged and loyal to the brand before accessing the hidden prize.

Crucially, these prizes are from brands that the player has chosen to interact with, immediately increasing engagement rates by ensuring the product or campaign is relevant to each player. That’s our philosophy laid bare: we want Snatch to reinvent marketing by rewarding consumers for interacting with their favourite brands.

Snatch also allows brands to transform their physical retail spaces into digital safehouses, encouraging increased footfall and dwell time in high street stores and pop-ups. The game’s pilot run drove over 500,000 retail store check-ins.

Engagement statistics from our pilot also proved how brands reap the benefits from this approach: those who piloted Snatch reported up to 12.5 per cent sales conversion from users landing on their website directly from the app. The average ROI was five times more effective compared to more traditional digital channels.

With some great brands on board, we are excited to show the power of games for marketing.


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