Game providers fear their own Cup lossesInfected by the spread of World Cup fervor, online game operators are coming up with diverse soccer-related marketing tactics to prevent users from ― ironically ― watching too much soccer.
Game companies know from experience that World Cup games can grab the eyes and ears of the nation, even its hard-core gamers, whose playing habits are usually unmarred by social events such as regional elections or natural disasters (unless it knocks over power lines). According to the Web site of the research firm Metrix, game sites had 13 percent fewer visitors in June, 2002, during the World Cup, and on days when the Korean team was playing, users dropped by 30 to 60 percent.
Naturally, game firms don’t want that happening again this year.
NHN is offering prizes, such as plasma display panel televisions, to people who play games on its game portal Hangame during the World Cup. On the day of Korea’s matches, the odds of winning a prize doubles between 8 p.m. and whenever the game actually starts. Other game portals, including PlayNC, Pangya, Stylia, and Mgame, are conducting similar events, with prizes ranging from items one can use in the game to offline prizes such as a soccer ball signed by the star Park Ju-young, liquid crystal display monitors, and PDP TVs.
The massive multiplayer role-playing game MU Online has inserted a “battle soccer zone” within the game; players that are part of guilds can battle other guilds through soccer games player within MU.
Nexon’s Kart Rider racing game is offering a “cheering package” in which players can decorate their vehicles and helmets with balloons and colors for one of 10 national soccer teams, including Korea (of course), Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Italy. The driver even wears the official uniform of the selected country. The shooting game Toy Striker will have its weapons decorated with soccer balls for a limited time; in another first-person shooting game, Exsteel, players can dress in red, the color of Korea’s national team. The online golf game Shot Online will also be offering golf balls with soccer ball patterns and red cheering outfits for a limited time.
The companies, however, said they don’t think the World Cup will affect their sales as much as it did four years ago.
“Last time, the games took place in Korea and the Korean team did very well, but this year, most of the matches take place very early in the morning, so we can encourage people to watch the matches and play games while they are waiting,” an NCSoft spokeswoman said.
by Wohn Dong-hee