Goafest 2022: The video games industry is exceedingly good at changing audience behaviour – Sam Glassenberg

The second day of Goafest saw the founder and chief executive officer of Level Ex speak about what the video games industry means for marketers

May 06, 2022 12:13:00 PM | Article | Eularie Saldanha

Sam Glassenberg, founder and chief executive officer, Level Ex, comes from a family of medical background. However, much to his family’s disappointment, he chose a career in the video games industry. 
 
His company, which was acquired by Brainlab in 2020, makes games based on major Hollywood movies. 
 
Glassenberg stated that although the video gaming industry came with a plethora of advantages, many marketers still have misconceptions about the reach of video games. 
 
Advantage to marketers 
 
Listing the advantages, he said, "You can use video games to increase reach, but we must not forget what we’re trying to achieve. Fundamentally, we are in the business of changing audience behaviour and this is what the video games industry is exceedingly good at.” 
 
Glassenberg also shared that creative visionaries across the industry have been using this technology to create robust entertainment that captivates billions.
 
“In our games, we feature campaigns from some of the world’s leading brands like Coca-Cola, Subway and Nike. We gave them the opportunity to not only reach our audiences, but also enjoy the association with them,” he added. 
 
Misconceptions about the reach of video games 
 
Speaking with gaming puns, Glassenberg stated levels of problems that blocked marketers from exploring their full potential with video games. He labelled the first level as the challenge of increasing reach. 
 
Listing some of the common misconceptions, he said, “Video games are toys and people grow out of it once they’re adults. It’s not a real business. Thare are things we hear often.” 
 
Shaming these myths, he stated that the video games industry had crossed the 200 billion dollars mark, with women and men both being enthusiastic participants. “Females dominate this space too. Over 40% of women over the age of 65 play video games.” 
 
Challenge to marketers 
 
He stated that although marketers could reach a full third of the world’s population via games, it is the least interesting benefit of the medium. 
 
Speaking about the issue of attention span that most marketers face, he challenged them to find better ways to capture the audience’s attention - which is now at eight seconds, lower than that of a goldfish. 
 
However, he stated that in the gaming industry, the attention span is not a worry. “It’s the opposite. An average gamer spends about eight and a half hours a week gaming, which is an increase of 14% over 2020. Games will always drive more engagement.” 
 
Integrating advertising in games 
 
Galssenberg shared that the video games industry has developed a deep discipline over the last few decades. “We have figured the neuro chemical recipe for capturing the focused attention of audiences at scale and have tested this on three billion people,” he added. 
 
For him, timing and context is crucial for any brand. “Well designed games pay attention to this. If a gamer playing angry birds is about to score a point and you stop him with a 15 seconds ad, you will break his flow and it’s terrible timing.”  
 
Giving the audience a creative dose of how a marketer could optimise ads for a game like Angry Birds, he explained, “If a gamer runs out of birds, we get Coca-Cola to the rescue. We can do something like bring in an extra bird. This drives brand loyalty. Alternatively, at that moment of victory, the dopamine and endorphins are flowing in the gamer’s mind, and that’s when you can flash a Nike ad, celebrating their victory with double points from the brand. Now, the dopamine is creating memories of positive moments for the player with the brand. We call this maintaining suspension of disbelief.” 
 
However, he also pointed out that not every brand can fit into the same hat. “Some Coca-Cola ads would make sense in a Mission Imposible game in London. However,  they would not make sense on a castle in the Lord of the Rings game. There are creative ways to intergate advertising in a game.”   
 
Importance of context 
 
He stated that if advertising was placed at the wrong place and in the wrong time, it would destroy the very engagement that the marketer was trying to take advantage of in the first place. “If we use games rightly to increase reach results, we can achieve deep engaement with our marketing. We can also leverage video in technology and design.” 
 
Towards the end of his session, he also shared how on his father’s request, he made a video game app that helped doctors virtually perform a fiberoptic laryngoscopy. 
 
“I made this app in three weekends out of guilt and put it up on the app store. Two years later when he asked me how many downloads the app had, I realised that an accidental creation had more than a hundred thousand downloads by doctors. Now, they’ve also been doing studies on this app, to show how it has improved the efficacy of these doctors’ performance.”