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Branded Flash Games - Custom Vs. Licensed

Aug 6, 2008
Engaging interactive content is being used more and more to increase brand awareness on the web, quite simply because it works. Promotional Flash games can keep people focused on your brand for extended periods and coming back for more. When considering a web based Flash game there are two main options available to you. Licensing a pre-built, off the shelf game or a custom solution, designed and built from scratch. So, which is best for you?

On the face of it, it's a bit of a no-brainer to many. Licensed games are cheaper plus you can browse and even test out finished products before choosing one. You know what you're getting, so no surprises at the end of the project and you've just saved a chunk of your marketing budget which you can spend elsewhere. It's a win-win situation?

If only it was that simple. Unfortunately, a relatively small, short-term budget saving and knowing exactly what you'll get for your money from the outset are all licensed solutions have going for them. There are two big problems with taking the licensing route:

1) You are making do with the best currently available solution for your brand. This may seem fine, but in actual fact it's likely to be worlds apart, in terms of how well it fits in with your campaign, from a solution that has been designed and built specifically tailored to your brand. It's like trying to knock a square peg into a round hole. You wouldn't use anything but unique, tailored marketing solutions for your brand in any other areas of your campaign, so why make this any different. For instance, imagine if every car manufacturer used the same off the shelf T.V. or magazine advert, just modified to include their logo! Which brings us onto the second problem.

2) Anyone else is free to license that same game for their website. Chances are the Flash game you are considering licensing is already available in at least a handful of locations on the web. Online games portal submissions are essential to maximising plays of your game and exposure of your brand. Most games portals will only accept unique submissions, so you are seriously limiting the potential of your campaign by going down this route. A custom Flash game doesn't have this problem, because you can be sure your game isn't already available on any of these sites.

The only surprises you should be experiencing with any design project are good ones. As long as you work with an experienced, reputable designer for your Flash game project this should always be the case. A good designer will be able to exceed your expectations in every step of the process from coming up with a game concept through to the finished product, without ever going over budget.

When it comes to marketing your brand, you want to stand out. Although the off the shelf solutions may seem slightly more attractive from a budget point-of-view, the disadvantages far outweigh the savings made. A licensed Flash game will not be unique to your marketing campaign and if it's available elsewhere you will be seriously limiting potential exposure via external sites. At worst, your direct competitors could be using the same game to promote their own brand.
About the Author
Simon Walklate is a partner in Custom Branded Viral Flash Online Web Game Designer and Developer The Motion Monkey, providing Flash Web Design and Development Services, based in Bristol, UK.
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