How Game Technology is Defining the Marketing of the Future

Interactivity and gamification are the new heart of the ultimate brand experience

We live in an age dictated by screens—exposed to a world of branded content that extends far beyond the concept of traditional "marketing." With brands competing for eyeballs and attention more than ever, how can they cut through the noise?

Advertising was traditionally dominated by the 60-second TV ad buy. However, with the rise of streaming and digital content platforms, the way audiences are interacting with brands and advertisers is changing. With a multitude of contact-points available, brands are looking for new ways of engaging with their consumer, and it's all about interactivity and immersion. Marketing in 2020 is all about building on the traditional storytelling concepts of commercials and taking them into the experiential space, introducing consumers into the brand narrative and giving them the ability to navigate their own, independent experience.

More screens = more content, and in recent years, as we've seen the demand for quality content rise, budgets are getting slimmer and timelines significantly shorter, meaning creative studios need to offer new production solutions to deliver.

Enter game engines; technology that the gaming world has used for years. Creatives are increasingly leaning on the principles and processes of gaming to deliver heightened brand experiences and new ways of producing work. This is because the technology behind gaming provides ultimate creative flexibility and enables the production of live visuals that viewers can play and interact with. 

Game engines are the firepower behind the games we love, they are the technology that allows the live-play and interactivity aspect of the game. Game engines were born out of the desire to go beyond video games that were locked to precisely defined hardware systems—from mainframes in the '50s to the stand-up arcades of the '70s. Game engines brought gaming to PCs and consoles and then democratized development to mobile and headsets as well. 

The nature of game engines mandates constant evolution, and today they have smarter A.I.'s, better rendering and more customized tools for filmmaking and mixed reality experiences than ever before. Industries beyond gaming are increasingly seeing the power of real-time visualizations and interactive products—in architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and more recently, film, advertising and live events. According to a Forrester report, "95 percent of architects are interested in adopting real-time rendering solutions as a means for reviewing and editing designs with customers." This is just one example of the power of gaming technology. 
                
Within the world of marketing and filmmaking, the benefits are twofold; using game engines can supercharge productions through virtual workflows that are collaborative and responsive. The use of this tech enables the production of graphics at an accelerated rate. This offers the visual effects industry alternative ways of working and is credited with helping generate scenes within productions such as The Mandalorian, Nickelodeon's working title The Voxels, and the visuals on Lady Gaga's Las Vegas Residency tour. This tech also widens the ways we engage with our audiences, through experiences built for and delivered through web, mobile, augmented and virtual reality platforms.

Game engines are completely altering the paradigm through which consumers engage with brands. It enables us to gamify content through augmented reality (think branded Instagram filters), virtual reality and live interactive experiences. By using the principles of gaming within marketing, consumers can take an active part in brand narrative, building an experience that activates emotion and memory. The huge appeal of gamified content is that it gives us agency and enables us (within parameters) to define our own narrative. We interact. We play. We effect. We choose. And it's how modern platforms work. 

The big corporate players in this field are gaming companies such as Epic Games (makers of Fortnite) and Unity, but they would not be who they are without the masses who use their software. The community driving game engines to success are the masses of players and developers who are constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of this tech into new sectors such as advertising and marketing.

The nature of real-time rendering is that it can blend seamlessly into so many facets of our existence. Game engines may power the wayfinding of the future in stadiums, museums and public exhibits. It will power multiple XR experiences across the globe when augmented and virtual realities are finally democratized and widely used within education, architecture, medicine and other fields.

The real-time rendering market is projected to grow at an estimated annual rate of 17 percent. The market is projected to reach $4 billion by 2027 from $1.1 billion in 2019. The high demand for real-time rendering solutions in entertainment and media is driving the growth of the industry due to the increasing demand for immersive and interactive content through mobile devices such as tablets and phones. 

We desire interactivity more than ever in all facets of life—so as marketers and content creators, let's listen to audiences and lean on this versatile and powerful technology to develop cutting-edge content and define the future of marketing and consumer engagement. 

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Isabelle du Plessis
Isabelle du Plessis is global head of PR at The Mill.

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