The games, developed by WildTangent, Redmond, Wash., will be fueled by a cutting-edge technology that avails PC-based online gamers with xbox and PlayStation-quality graphics and technical bells and whistles. "Gaming is a great way to surround our consumer with not just something that is entertaining but imparts information," said Julie Roehm, director of marketing communications at the Chrysler Group for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
The three games are: "Jeep® 4x4 Adventure," "Chrysler West Coast Rally" and "Dodge Racing - HEMI® Edition."
The games are designed so even those without broadband can have an enjoyable playing experience. The download times are negligible. "Everything we do is geared toward ensuring a decent experience through narrow band. After you initially download it, every time after, it's an instant-on experience, which you can't even get on CD-ROM," said Dave Madden, WildTangent exec VP-sales and business development.
Chrysler has been aggressively pursuing branding opportunities in the gaming space for about three years. Roehm said that with the current auto launches, game development and distribution represent a larger portion of the budget that anytime before. "We keep experimenting and accelerating. We tap into those successes and learn because it's an opportunity area."
Roehm says that gaming is a sweet spot for Chrysler because not only are the elusive 18- to 34-year-old men highly involved in the activity, but PC gamers are between 25 and 45 years old with a 60-40 male/female split, which is in line with the targets for the majority of Chrysler vehicles.
%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Madden added that women, 35 years old, are the No. 1 purchasers of online games currently.
To drive traffic, Chrysler has set up partnerships with major gaming sites such as MSN, AOL and Yahoo, as opposed to three years ago when the strategy was to drive people to the Chrysler site to play the games. "While that worked, you don't get nearly the response as you do when putting games where gamers go. This improves awareness and consideration and purchase intent," said Roehm.
While not too long ago, Chrysler's involvement in gaming may have been considered somewhat of an anomaly, Madden notes that brands have taken a greater interest in the space recently, just over the past several months. He referred to some Nielsen research that came out last fall that showed declines in TV viewership while at the same time, showing the same audience was spending more time playing video games. "That caught people off guard. They knew their kids were playing but they didn't realize it was so widespread," said Madden. "['Survivor' creator Mark] Burnett said it best at [the recent Advertising Age Madison+Vine conference], risk takers are the ones who see most success."