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Meet Social Gaming Marketing Expert Oli Madgett of We R Interactive

Oli Madgett

Oli Madgett

We caught up with Oli Madgett of We R Interactive to learn how I AM PLAYR all started and what the future holds for branded content and social gaming.

I AM PLAYR takes the dream of living the life of a professional footballer to the next level, a game which marries social gaming with big brands such as Nike and Alfa Romeo. I AM PLAYR offers a unique opportunity for brands to engage their customers and its brand integration platform affords opportunities for new brands to interact with our audience at an entry level budget.

I AM PLAYER Marketing Case Study

How It All Started

I AM PLAYR’s rise to fame started with a moment of pure serendipity when the Bigballs Films directors got stuck in a lift with Nike’s head of football – this was to be the spark from which their partnership with Nike Football developed. This Summer I AM PLAYR was awarded a Gold Lion at the Oscars of the advertising world in Cannes in a new category recognising innovation in branded content and entertainment.

In a moment of pure serendipity the Bigballs Films directors got stuck in a lift with Nike’s head of football – this was to be the spark from which the partnership with Nike developed. Nike shared the vision for I AM PLAYR right from the start.

The concept was initially developed by Oli Madgett, Co-Founder of We R Interactive in collaboration with Bigballs Films who saw the opportunity to merge games and films inspired by the success of the ‘A Message From Earth’ project where the community could use an app to send their pictures into space, with a weekly video magazine format highlighting celebrity and user submissions which Oli ran on Bebo.

Bigballs Films pioneered branded-funded multi-platform entertainment formats, including the 2009 Bafta-nominated a real-time festival drama for Vodafone, Who Killed Summer. The ‘play the life of a footballer’ concept was driven by the fact that this back story enabled the authentic integration of multiple brand partners whose involvement would be additive to the overall user experience.

Oli Madgett, Co-Founder of We R Interactive


A Typical Day in a Gaming Office

We kick off with a 15 minute publishing scrum meeting, followed by a 15 minute development scrum meeting – where everyone talks for 1 minute about what they did yesterday and looks ahead to what they’re aiming to achieve today.

Working in two week release cycles there’s a constant cycle of working on new features to add into the game, bugs to fix and working on backlog iterations.
We also look at development of new story bubbles which are often linked around a brand’s potential involvement in the game. Reviewing feedback from users, data and KPIs from the day before, and looking at community outreach messages is also part of our daily schedule.

I AM PLAYR’s Business Model

Our games work on a freemium business model – we drive users to accelerate their progress through the game by paying for virtual in-game items that will help them – for example Nike virtual boots to improve your skills and Red Bull to provide energy. It takes an average user 4-6 weeks to play through the 30 matches in Season 1, and users are spending over 50 minutes per day playing the game and heavily engaging, interacting with and consuming the branded content on the platform.

Chris Anderson Explains Freemium


Creative Inspiration

I AM PLAYR holds a mirror up to the real world of football – we take our inspiration for the game from the stories brewing in the real world of football. Looking at how brands integrate into the real world of football also provides a trigger point for our thoughts and integrating these touchpoints back into the game. We are also lucky to have Lee Dixon and Gary McAllister as storyline consultants – with them passing on their experiences which inform the narrative.

Another source of inspiration for the concept came from the Guy Ritchie-directed Nike ‘Take it to the Next Level’ ad which played to the dream of living the life of a professional footballer. Brilliantly entertaining, but it made you want more. I AM PLAYR takes that dream to the next level.

Through our relationship with Nike we are able to get under the skin of what it’s like for a footballer to become a brand ambassador in the real world and then feed this into the game’s story bubble to further authenticate the user’s experience.

Some of our ideas are also born out of game design mechanics – for example we’re currently working on how to bring the concept of ‘confidence’ into the game and creating content around that mechanic.

Updates are released into the game every two weeks. This constant process of iteration means that virtually all aspects of the game have evolved over the last year as we’ve listened to user’s feedback and analysed the data that we are able to collect on their usage patterns.

i am playr

Advice for Gaming Marketing Managers

I’d recommend they take a look at solutions such as Kontagent. Social game developers use this as their analytics platforms to gain insights into user behaviour. Brand Managers also need to make themselves familiar with industry terminology such as ARPDAU ‘Average Revenue Per Daily Active User’ and Cohort Analysis – Inside Social Games is a good resource to get up to speed.

An analytical approach to marketing activity is required as the majority of spend is performance related. They also need to be able to empathise with the users game play experiences and motivations, and have the drive to pro-actively understand and implement how the game is able to make the most of the ever changing promotional opportunities that Facebook offers developers.

The Opportunity for Brands

New Zoo, in its Trend Report: Casual Social Games (February 2012), reports that 450 million people are playing online games globally.

Lazard Capital projects that by 2015 social gaming will be worth $9 billion globally

On I AM PLAYR we’ve got a global audience across 210 countries who are spending over 50 minutes per day consuming and interacting with the content on the platform.

And we’ve has established a flourishing virtual economy with Red Bull selling more than 2.5 million cans in the game and powering 125 million plus training drills to date. In addition, over 400,000 pairs of Nike boots have been purchased and users have watched more than 97 years of Nike-branded video.
The game is now at a scale where we’re able to drive multi millions of users over the next 12 months to interact with branded content, and complete brand related actions.

The Future – Social Games & Branded Content

Mobile will be a huge area of growth for social games - Juniper Research predicts mobile games revenues will surpass $11 billion globally by 2015.

European mobile social gaming is on the up – In February 2012, 6.1 million EU5 (DE, ES, FR, IT, UK) smartphone gamers logged into a social game on their devices – up 42% on the previous six months, representing 13.2 percent of smartphone gamers overall. Comscore, April 2012. Our mobile app SOCCER PLAYR is due to launch any day now.

There’s a rich heritage in console based music games that have proven there’s an appetite for user interaction, yet to date interactive music has not successfully translated to social platforms. We R Interactive is uniquely positioned to address this opportunity and take interactive entertainment to a global music audience. In July we launched a new first of its kind interactive music game ‘Lyroke’ that lets music plans play along to videos from the world’s biggest artists.

In terms of I AM PLAYR and other ‘I AM’ games that we’re starting to work on, I think that we’re at the start of a very exciting phase of development now that we’ve been able to prove that we can generate, retain and activate a global audience.

How will I AM PLAYR take over the world

By localising into at least 10-15 languages including Mandarin, Indonesian, Arabic, allowing users to play I AM PLAYR in different segments of time with the new SOCCER PLAYR app, and when River Park FC becomes a successful real world football team…

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