HONG KONG: Advergaming – games developed by brands – is playing an important role in the growing Asian games market, with engagement rates reported to be significantly higher than in-game advertising.

The latter approach is growing at 17-19% a year according to Campaign Asia-Pacific, buoyed by the expanding console game market which has been given a boost by China's lifting of restrictions on these devices.

At the start of this year Sony launched its Playstation into the Chinese market, which is projected to be worth $23.4bn by 2018.

But the nature of the gaming market across the region is changing, moving away from something primarily aimed at an 18-35 year old male demographic as more women in a similar age range opt to play casual mobile games on their smartphones.

This is the area where brands can take advantage, developing short games that both entertain and offer rewards to players.

"The market is growing and there's sorely very little awareness on how these branded mini-games can capture attention and sales, since it usually takes less than ten minutes to finish the game," explained Danielle Kuek, senior service marketing manager at Branded Mini Games, an advergaming specialist.

"The interactivity and elective involvement make them a more appealing form of advertising in comparison to banner or pop-up advertising," she told Digital News Asia. "Games educate users about the brand and allow them to share their experience via social features."

A Korean advergame for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, for example, saw a completion rate of 78% while more than one third of game users engaged with Krispy Kreme's Facebook Page with 'Likes' or 'Shares'.

And the offer of rewards and prizes increases the potential for lead generation. "People willingly give up information to these companies, play these games repeatedly, thinking it's 'just another short game'," Kuek added.

She also reported that while the food & beverage and FMCG categories were most likely to utilise this approach the financial services sector was exploring it as a way of presenting a less serious face to consumers.

"It helps humanise this industry, which can sometimes tend to be seen as cold and calculating," Kuek said.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Digital News Asia; additional content by Warc staff