International rugby looms large on the horizon this weekend as Ireland prepares to defend the RBS 6 Nations trophy we won in spectacular fashion a little over ten months ago. The RTÉ stings of former players telling what it means over the tagline of ‘We take you there’ are spreading across the network and looking to bring in the near one million fans that will turn from occasional to passionate fans of the oval ball on Sunday February 6th for the men and 24 hours earlier for the Women’s team.
It’s a tournament and a sport based around tradition but survival and thriving in the modern era demands continually looking at how to engage new fans and new generations.
Soccer has become a staple of young lives around the developed world as much because of the success of the FIFA range of games for Xbox and Playstation as it has through following the real life exploits of Messi and Walters.
Rugby has never had such a mass appeal reach into gaming but it will have a taster for the first time during this 6 Nations with a new free to download game produced by an Irish software company and pitching fans vs fans in a format that allows personal play and a collective gathering behind one team over another.
The game produced by Sportscarver will be released this Saturday morning in the Apple and Google Play stores. This is what it will look like.
This is not an authorised or sanctioned game from the 6 Nations, at least not yet and so it does not carry any official branding. A similar game produced for the GAA and the Gaelic Players Association was authorised and for four weeks in September stood at the top of the Mobile Game Charts in Ireland.
That game generated 50,000 downloads, over 5 million impressions and served ads for 40 brands including Aer Lingus, PwC and Avonmore who all had a relationship through the sporting bodies.
“The game incorporates advertising in the same way as you would see in a stadium,” said Sportscarver Development Director Leo Peyton speaking exclusively to Sport for Business.
“It is immune to ad blocking software and is non intrusive for players so they accept it as a regular part of the gaming experience.”
“The GAA game generated 7,000 hours of ‘dwell time’ where players were exposed to a particular brand in a mobile setting.”
There are those who ‘don’t get’ why a seemingly disposable free to play game can generate real value. Then again a year ago who could have imagined that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be advertising just such games on prime time television across the US.
It’s another strand of how diverse the fields of sport, technology and consumer engagement have already and continue to become.
It’s good that it should be an Irish company that is to the fore and it is a peculiarly addictive way to while away five minutes on your phone while waiting for whatever it is that will catch your attention next.