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First Off, Who Cares About Video Games?

A lot of people. I mean a WHOLE LOT! Nearly 70%, or 7 out of 10 Americans do, with 90% of them playing on their mobile devices. (This is why mobile gamers have become such a key target for marketers and advertisers.) Gamers immerse themselves in the games and surrounding culture. By examining how users feel, not how we think they feel, about particular types of games can deliver deep insights into the minds of 70% of American consumers and their desires. More to the point, what specific delivered content and experience evokes the most passionate adoption and why.

From an immersive marketing perspective, one game, in particular, has my attention for this article. The Sims.

Just a little background about this game for those not familiar with it. The Sims is the biggest selling ‘franchise’ game in history, with over 200 million sold worldwide, and has no signs of slowing down (a new Sims 5 is said to be coming out soon.) With its immense popularity, it has gained sales north of $2.5 billion. To put that in perspective, that is more than the annual GNP of some 26 nations.

Millions upon millions are getting lost in this ‘life simulation’ daily with females making up almost 60% of players. For many, they do not classify The Sims as a game but rather a hobby.

Why Do So Many Love The Sims?

There’s a lot of answers to this, all fans of the game have their own reason. The Sims can revolve around “individuals and relationships” where players are given the power to control the lives of autonomous people or creature and is designed in a way that it’s easy to add user-created content to the game. Just one example, some take weeks building their own elaborate luxury catamaran to get lost at sea on.

In general, players become addicted to the life simulation and impressive realism where they can create who they want to look like, be there person they would like to be, choose whatever career they want, have the lifestyle they dream of, raise a family, all without real-world side effects. The freedom of choice.

The ‘play with life‘ (#PLAYWITHLIFE)  game has a major impact on the lives of those who immerse themselves in it. Here’s how a few in the below video describe what they love about the experience:

– “I play to build a new me, I played to feel good about myself
– “The Sims gave me an outlet where I could go out and live a life
– “I would describe it as no boundaries no barriers
– “The Sims is a place where I was free to do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be “

The Sims #playwithlife

What Does The Sims Teach Us As Marketers?

What we can take away from briefly examining The Sims is that we learn that a  large segment of customers wants to customize every detail of their experiences. They want to self-guide themselves, decide for themselves how Sims look, act, and dress, without anyone judging them. They want the say in exactly how they’ll live out each day, they want to control their chosen experience. Doing so makes them feel free, empowered, happy, reinvigorated, and they don’t want it to stop.  As we saw from the video above, experiences that can evoke these feelings are a huge hit.

The specific highlights I gleaned from the research for this article, 1) offer self-guided rich experiences, 2) lots of choices, and 3) immersive elements are requirements for marketers. Additional findings were:

  • Customer experiences are most powerful when they are about people, social interactions and allow customers to get ‘lost’ in the experience.
  • The shopping experience and must offer all kinds of choices and information at the customer’s fingertips. This makes self-guided shopping joyful.
  • Providing more immersive elements, like allowing customers to try different colors or patterns, see the desired object from all different angles,  even using AR elements that can all them to see how something looks on, all these pull the customer in for the sale.
  • Allow consumers to navigate, place and manipulate catalog items at scale in consumers’ homes. Consumers have proved to love this.
  • The obvious one is offering some gamification elements can prove to be attractive to customers, especially the young at heart.

The Lesson

Now, I don’t play video games, but, I do professionally market to consumers and I want to hit the ever-moving bullseye with my best efforts every time. So, if the new wave of customers wants immersive self-guided experiences from retailers, we better listen up before it’s too late. We may just wake up one day and find they’ve moved away from us to someone who is providing it, like our main competitor.

Studying customers behaviors can tell us much.


Tim Moore


Tim Moore

Partner | SKYNAV

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