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IP licensing is a powerful way to include existing players in your game and attract new users. Over the past two decades, I have had the pleasure of working with dozens of well-known licensors from Disney, Dreamworks, Tetris, CBS, and Lionsgate, to name a few.
At Clipwire Games, we partnered with The Price Is Right to bring deeper engagement to the players of our game, Bingo Story. If you are considering licensing an IP for your studio, our partnership can provide guidance for you and your team.
IP licensing is one option [to] Boost brand awareness, improve engagement with existing players, and attract new ones
In today’s crowded mobile gaming environment, it is important for studios to think strategically and creatively about how to differentiate themselves from the competition. While developing a high quality game is important, developers have the creative opportunity to do more and add value to players while building the longevity of their games at the same time.
Intellectual property (IP) licensing is one way studios can increase brand awareness, improve engagement with existing players, and attract new ones.
Knowing how to properly use an IP and have a strategic plan for what you want to accomplish can put your team in a better position.
Clipwire games and the price is right
When you have an established game like Bingo Story with a loyal and committed player base it is important to provide them with new experiences. We wanted to streamline our monetization and retention strategies while delivering a new experience to our users. After many successful years with Bingo Story, we decided to give our players a new take on the game they know and love.
Partnerships with an IP license are a great way to meet this challenge. That’s why we partnered with Fremantle Media’s franchise, The Price Is Right. For this partnership to be successful, we had to make important considerations before we could merge the two different brands.
During the collaboration process, we made sure that our goals and expectations were aligned both internally and with Fremantle.
Brand awareness and audience expansion
Successful partnership with an IP requires a clear roadmap of what you want to achieve through an IP deal. For example, if you have a specific audience that you want to target and believe that the IP will bring you this, licensing may make sense for you.
We have focused on increasing the engagement and retention of our existing users. We also wanted to reach a larger audience with The Price Is Right brand, which has a long standing reputation and is a household name. Ultimately, Bingo Story is a strong title and we were confident that our team could deliver an integrated experience from both a creative and a technical standpoint.
Successful partnership with an IP requires a clear roadmap of what you want to achieve through an IP deal
The partnership was a move that both brands benefited from in order to expand their reach. The following were important considerations for further development and factors that your team should also consider:
– – audience: The demographic and purchasing power for both brands have been properly identified and rated. You should be able to answer: will the IP help encourage audiences to spend and improve overall lifetime value (LTV)?
– – extension: There was consistent overlap and similarity in the audience, indicating a strong opportunity for more engagement and reach. You should be able to answer: what is the IP audience like and who are you reaching?
– – Timed coordination: We have already built a sufficiently large player base with Bingo Story and it was a great time to try something new and different. It’s also important to note that a sizeable player base may have a better chance of catching an IP licensor’s attention.
– – value: This was a unique way for existing Bingo Story players to get involved with the game. It was our way of knowing our fan base.
Establish expectations with an IP partnership
It was important to set the right expectations with our team. For example, instead of expecting immediate success and attracting a ton of new users, we looked at collaboration more as an accelerator to make Bingo Story more successful and engaging.
Don’t expect IP to generate organic downloads – in fact, it can get more expensive upfront
Don’t expect IP to generate organic downloads – in fact, it can get more expensive upfront simply because of the fierce competition.
Having a licensed IP address can increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your ads. However, you still have to pay to reach others. Increasing brand awareness with a known IP can improve LTV and retention rates over time.
Use intellectual property brand awareness to tweak each step of the roadmap, outlining how to encourage collaboration through social media, in-game, and other channels like a newsletter.
Promote your IP license to your audience
It’s not enough to simply update your App Store assets with IP-focused images. It’s important to create as much multi-channel messaging as possible. Many IP owners already have an established audience that you can leverage before and during your event or launch. Create the schedule of how often you want to share this new partnership with your audience and through which channels. Would you like your teaser campaign to start a few weeks or a month before it starts? Segment your audience after identifying the timeline.
Your target group can be, for example:
- New players
- Existing players
- Inactive players
- Fans of the IP you are targeting
Then find out your communication strategy. Now that our audience segments were determined, we took steps to ensure players can anticipate this exciting new partnership via email, push notifications, and social media channels.
Watch out for an active or resting audience – you don’t want to bombard users who haven’t been engaged in your game. We mainly reached out to active players to get them excited about the IP.
Also, make sure that your messages and tone are specifically tailored for each segment. For example, your dormant segment email subject line is likely to use language that is captivating and intriguing to the email, making it open as compared to emails addressed to your active group .
We looked at the intersection between Price is Right fans and our fans to make sure that the messages we deliver to them are not just targeted at both brands, but also create interest for those fans, not just the brand, that they love but also for playing a new game. Since we were hosting a Price is Right event, we wanted to make sure these fans would fall in love with Bingo Story and keep playing after the Price is Right event ended.
Make sure you fully understand the IP so that you know if it makes sense for your game
How would you like to present this exciting new campaign with fresh images and creatives? Make the emotional connection – what would evoke feelings of zeal, enthusiasm, and tension? Then tie in on all the fun topics in your game.
Since The Price Is Right is known for revealing humane prices behind a curtain, we used a similar idea in our teaser by gradually showing what the event was about. It started with the curtains closed, and each motif revealed a bit more without giving the whole thing away.
A flourishing partnership
Make sure you fully understand the IP so that you know if it makes sense for your game. Do your research and become an expert on the IP you are considering.
For The Price Is Right, our team did a thorough study of what games participants were playing, including the pros and cons of the Showcase Showdown that culminates each episode.
This way you can integrate the IP title in your game in a meaningful way and make the brand experience even more intense, so that not just a logo or colors are added.
While you continue to research whether an IP license makes sense for your game, the potential increase in brand awareness is just as important as your demographic and basic game mechanics.
Also, remember that an important part of working with a well-known IP is discussing how you can leverage the marketing team. Established companies often have powerful marketing resources. If you can discuss this in advance and work out a marketing plan, you can potentially achieve a much greater reach for your licensed game. We worked closely with Fremantle on all of our marketing for this event. We made sure that the art objects Fremantle already had for the property were requested and used and were able to create some really spectacular and powerful interactive campaigns with the interactive bingo themed Price is Right featured.
Once you’re ready to move forward, an IP licensed partnership can be an exciting time in the life cycle of your game. The partnership with The Price Is Right has been well received and we appreciate feedback from our players.
Mary Kaye Fraser is the studio director at Clipwire Games and a gaming industry veteran. She oversees the company’s strategic growth, including production processes, product design, hiring and team structure, training and mentoring, and business development.