How Developers Use Games to Sell Games

I’ve said it before; the mobile gaming industry is one of the most underrated and overlooked giants in gaming. With virtually everyone in the developed world having access to smartphones and tablets, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t booted up one of these small on-the-go titles for their gaming pleasure.

Because of the widespread appeal and accessibility of mobile gaming, we’ve suddenly seen a marketing trend pop up with developers that makes all too much sense: using mobile tie-in games to help sell full retail games.

This trend has been going on for a while now. It’s even seen its way to films, where tie-in games have been made to advertise for movies, like we saw with The Hunger Games and Inception.

And why not do this? It’s a brilliant strategy, really. A majority of the time, these apps are free, allowing fans to download and get a taste of the upcoming experience while avoiding cost. It also gives you a chance to expose people to your product who might not have been aware of it until they stumbled upon it while browsing.

The latest game to jump on this bandwagon is the upcoming Darksiders II, who will be releasing a free app called the “Soul Harvest” that will allow players to “reap” the souls of others around them via Facebook. Through this, players can unlock in-game weapons and other additional bonus content including game footage and comics.

Both Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect 3 did something similar to this as well. Among several titles connected to the Assassin’s Creed universe, we’ve seen a multiplayer game that tasked players with taking out each other on a large map while using stealth and assassination tactics much like the ones used by Ezio, as well as a standalone action game in Altair’s Chronicles, which featured many of the same platforming and fighting elements found in the franchise’s console titles.

Mass Effect Infiltrator was a spin-off standalone experience released on mobile devices leading up to Mass Effect 3’s release, detailing the misadventures of a Cerberus Operative gone rogue.

It’s genius marketing strategy that helps drum up excitement and connects fans while giving them a taste of what’s to come.

Now, I know these tie-in apps aren’t a supplement for the real thing. But in an industry full of weird marketing strategies, it’s a clever use of multiple platforms, and an interesting concept I’d love to see more of in the future.