The poor performances of Zynga and EA’s PopCap games show what happens when a product with little emotional appeal is overvalued.
Let’s take a step back. To steal market share, you first must uncover the level of a consumer’s resistance to switch. How is the consumer emotionally invested in the product they currently use? What triggers would most excite them to take notice of something else? What is at stake if they make the transition?
The greater the resistance to switch the more stealing market share depends on how a emotionally a message resonates with the customer. There are some instances where messages are highly intensive, which makes switching difficult. Attention marketers; make your brand sticky.
But if the user is not emotionally invested in the experience, the ability to switch becomes much easier.
That’s where Zynga and PopCap currently reside.
These companies are in the “mini-game” business, which relies on customers purchasing in-game apps rather than developing brand loyalty to the games. The games are designed to be played in small doses, making them easy to be consumed on the go. Players are not invested in a narrative, but they come back for ease of use and the promise of entertainment.
That strategy presents a conundrum. These mini games – all the rage now that Zenga and PopCap have Mafia Wars or FarmVille – are seen as throwaways. The nature of quick, fast games with little emotional involvement and a message that the customer can buy more means there is no way to foster brand loyalty beyond purchasing digital seeds.
It’s at that point users can be persuaded to switch. The loyalty is already weak, so something else that promises ease of use and quick entertainment can take easily take its place.
Gaming companies should ask themselves two questions: Is this game easy to switch away from? If the answer is yes, then they need something stronger – an emotional attachment – that will make their game “stickier.”