Gamification or rewards: what do movie companion apps really offer?

13 Jun

In the past couple of weeks, a plethora of movie companion apps have been released, both for big screen and DVD releases.  But unlike third party applications, many of these applications don’t offer rewards.  Mainly, theses apps have a gamification aspect to them to get users involved and interested in the upcoming movie (or DVD) release.

But what exactly do these ‘gamification’ apps offer?

epicApps like “Fast and Furious 6” and “Epic”, which both came out prior to their big screen debut, are essentially gamified apps, that really have no rewards to them.

These apps, however, do let you become part of the movie experience.

The Epic app allows for you to build and protect the forest, like Queen Tara does.  You also train and fortify your army of Leafmen, and battle against the Boggans, as they do in the movie.  But in essence, the app is a game, and a game that is aimed towards those who will most likely go and see the movie.  There are some in-app purchases, and without offering any kind of reward, what is the point of buying something virtual?The further along you get in the game, the harder it is to beat your opponents.  You can also play against other players in the game center, or “other kingdoms” as its called in the app.  Along with increased difficulty is the amount of time it takes to upgrade items in the forest.  To harvest certain ingredients for potions or upgrade to a higher level, it can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes or more.

Like Epic, the Fast and Furious 6 app tells a bit of a story.  You interact with well known characters from the movie, like Roman and Tej.  The app also brings in elements from previous movies – like Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.  Within the app, you are expected to make your car drift in certain spots, as the characters did in the movie.  You earn points for shifting gears perfectly, or having a perfect launch.  You can also upgrade your car, specialize it, and more.  However, to unlock the full potential of the application, you have to buy gas for your car with in-app purchases (or wait for the app to refuel on its own).  That makes me want to see the movie even less than I already did.

But what really has me questioning these most recent movie companion apps is the Man of Steel app.  In a brilliant marketing move, the movie partnered with Kellogg to produce the app.  In order to “unlock” all of Superman’s powers – flight, strength, and heat vision – you have to find the Kellogg products with the QR codes on the back (Townhouse crackers, Poptarts, and others) and scan them.  Only then can you play with Superman’s powers.  Here is an example of the Man of Steel app:  Besides the ability to have some fun with Superman’s powers and share them with your friends, the app doesn’t quite offer much.  I see it having a very short life cycle.

man of steel

Unlike Viggle, GetGlue, and other rewards apps, I have yet to see any other benefit to many of these apps other than engagement.  If engagement is the point, then aces, they have done their job.  Other than that, I see no long term strategy to keep users engaged with the applications.  Perhaps gamification isn’t the answer to big screen debut companion applications.


One Response to “Gamification or rewards: what do movie companion apps really offer?”


  1. Gamification or Rewards: What Do Movie Companion Apps Really Offer? (Shayna Blumenthal) | Richard Kastelein - June 17, 2013

    […] See on […]


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