If you invest your time, money and effort into something, it’s fair to expect something in return, right?
Well, if you’re a gamer, the answer is yes. Over the years, gaming companies have gradually come around to the idea that offering players something extra is a good thing. Instead of expecting people to keep paying for the latest games and upgrades for the love of playing, the top brands now give you something more for your time. Yes, in reality, the overall appeal of a game is what’s going to keep you coming back for more. However, if you can get something else for your efforts, then it’s more likely you’ll remain a customer.
Loyalty Counts for Something in the Gaming World
In fact, this is something GameStop released back in 2010. After noticing that store revenue was being overtaken by online transactions, GameStop launched the PowerUp Rewards loyalty program. In simple terms, anyone who purchases a game earns points. As a player accumulates more points, they can then redeem them for money off, online content, exclusive gifts, and more. The loyalty scheme has been so successful that GameStop now offers three membership tiers:
Naturally, if you pay, you get instant access to better rewards such as 20% off purchases of trade-in games and accessories. However, even if you’re a free member, you’ll receive 10 points for every dollar spent in store, points you can then use in the gift shop to purchase digital currency, coupons and more. For gamers, the loyalty scheme is a great way to get something back, but it’s been equally beneficial for GameStop. Since implementing the scheme, around 71% of store sales now come from Pro-tier members. Moreover, the program itself has 40 million+ members around the world, which means GameStop now has a solid customer base that’s not only willing to spend but that it has valuable data on. Indeed, the only thing more valuable to a major company than money is a database of information that it can use to refine its product in order to make it more appealing to its core demographic.
- Player: Free
- Pro: $14.99 annual fee
- Elite Pro: $29.99 annual fee
Bonuses for Gamers
Beyond loyalty schemes, video game companies have also taken inspiration from the online casino world in recent years. Known as bonuses in the betting community, the rewards are typically given to players when they complete some sort of action. One of the most common bonuses players can collect is something known as a welcome reward or sign-up offer. In the first instance, no deposit bonuses are given to players when they register their details with an online casino. These free credits can be used to play any game but a player must complete a “playthrough” before they can realize their true value. In the second instance, welcome bonuses are given to players when they first make a deposit. Following a similar pattern in terms of the play through, deposit deals are usually a multiple of a player’s transaction and, therefore, more lucrative. Taking inspiration from this, video game companies have employed a similar strategy with loot boxes.
When a player purchases a single loot box, they get the chance to play for a mystery prize. These prizes can include bonuses such as character upgrades, in-game credit, and special features. The reason these bonuses are similar to the ones offered by online casinos is that they are for internal use only. In other words, you have to play the game in order to get something from them, just as you have to bet money to realize the potential of a casino bonus. Another similarity here is that you get a better deal if you spend more. In the same way that deposit multipliers mean that larger transactions generate larger bonuses, loot boxes often come in bundles. For example, if you were to play Overwatch 2, the cost of a box can range from just under $1 to $0.80 depending on how many you purchase e.g. two boxes for $1.99 or 50 boxes for $39.99.
Promotions Designed to Hype a Product
The final added extra that’s become common in the video gaming world over the last few years is promotions. As well as retailers such as Amazon running promotions that involve money off certain games at certain times, there have been attempts over the years to add gifts into the mix. One of the most interesting (if a little strange) was the free workout players could claim when they purchased a copy of Soulcalibur V. Taking the concept of fighting with swords and applying it to the real world, developer Namco Bandai partnered with GYMBOX in London to create the Swordsman Workout. Although the training regime didn’t really prepare people for battle, a code inside the box of each game did allow gamers to attend special classes for free. What’s more, anyone with a copy of Soulcalibur V could join GYMBOX without paying a joining fee for a limited period of time.
Despite the worlds of gaming and exercising being poles apart, it was a quirky idea that seemed to work. By giving players something extra when they made a purchase, it certainly created a buzz around the product. This, in reality, is why companies in the gaming world are willing to give away freebies to regular players. Whether it’s via a loyalty scheme, a welcome bonus or some sort of promotion, the overall idea is to hype a product or service and encourage consumers to return. Today, with video gaming worth around $94 billion in 2017 according to Newzoo, it seems that these sorts of techniques are having a positive effect on the industry.