Gamification to connect with the next generation of fans
After the Olympic Games in 1928 and the UEFA Euro 2000, the Volleyball World Championship for women was the third largest sporting event ever organised in the Netherlands. With a television audience of more than two billion people and 125,000 fans coming to watch a total of 60 matches in three Dutch cities, the World Championship has also been a huge catalyst for social integration, sustainability and innovation. But for any sport, reaching out to and engaging with the next generation of fans is a ongoing challenge. How do you start the conversation and how can you really create a high level of interest for your sport with the younger generation?
For young adults to fall in love with a sport, the key is to connect with them. Because the younger generation has its own interests and needs, they are also known as the 'unreachables'. Therefore, it is important to really connect in a way that seamlessy integrates with how they experience the world around them. Gaming is the number one interest of young people and an effective way to literally spend minutes connecting with these potential fans. In other words, using gaming as a marketing/media tool to sell your sport or product.
Sports Cloud put this into action, in collaboration with the municipalities, Rotterdam Topsport, Mizuno, the Dutch Volleyball Federation, the International Volleyball Federation and the Province of Gelderland. We developed a game to introduce a younger audience to the Volleyball World Championship. The game was released 3 months prior the event for both IOS and Android.
Go find out and play it yourself!
In the game you run through the cities of Rotterdam and Arnhem to collect Mikasa volleyballs. Players can choose any of the 24 participating countries as their avatar and prizes could be won in the run up to matches, such as tickets and volleyball gear. Everyone was able to play the game, from hardcore gamers to casual sports fans. An important feature of game design is that creating a great game ensures that it is easy to learn but hard to master.
A conscious decision was made to adapt a well-known game concept, instead of developing a specific volleyball game. In this way, young people were introduced to the Volleyball World Championship in an informal way. The game reached youth who would otherwise not have been associated with the event. People spent an average of 2.54 minutes in the app every time they opened it. That is an incredibly long time for a target audience that uses adblockers, has a short attention span and hardly ever responds to marketing messages.
The fact that the game had a low skill entry level was immediately apparent when it was launched on August 18 in the Markthal in Rotterdam. Children and their parents flocked to the tablets and immediately competed for the highest scores. Since then, the game has been downloaded in 67 countries. The two best players were invited to play the final on the big screen on Friday 7 October in Rotterdam Ahoy during the break between the second and third sets of the match between Italy and Argentina. Thousands of fans cheered on the two players who had to collect as many volleyballs as possible in 1 minute. The engagement in the stadium went through the roof. The Volley Runner Game not only provided amazing online connection to the event and to the sport but there was also a beautiful in-stadium showcase of what gamification can do for your live event.
The introduction of the game to attract a younger audience was a success. Tens of thousands of gamers and potential fans were activated all over the world. From first contact with the sport to the many minutes of being in touch with the world volleyball championship. The game increased engagement beforehand and brought a new target audience into contact with the sport of volleyball.
Do you want more information about this gamification case, creative activations and enrichment of your database? Feel free to contact Sion de Jong.
Chief Information Officer