Trend tracker: custom content

Customisation is a trend that has been gaining momentum for some time. From personalised gifts from notonthehighstreet.com to Boomf the Instagram emblazoned marshmallows and on to customisable trainer trend upheld by figureheads such as Nike and Converse; it is clear that making a product unique through customisation adds huge personal value to the individual and helps forge a relationship between brand and consumer.

Some sectors can do it more successfully than others and the gaming industry is one that has been innovating not just above the others, but ahead of the curve.

By its very nature the gaming industry pushes beyond the ‘standard’ experience in order to provide the player with fresh, exciting content. Each new game, update or patch is designed to increase the gamer’s enjoyment of the experience and therefore increase brand loyalty.

And as a system, it really works.

Starting with the most recent and potentially most socially interesting example, the gaming giants EA released an update to their hugely successful life simulation game the Sims4 last week. Customisation has always been a huge part of the Sims franchise. The update last week took this one step further, for the first time in their 16 year run, it is now possible for Sims to be transgender. In this way individuals who previously could not emanate themselves in the base content of the game can use the update to make custom Sims that do.

The next example highlights the potential for customisation to be used on a much larger scale. The game ‘Life is Strange’ was an episodic graphic adventure video released periodically throughout 2015. The premise of the game was that the player makes decisions throughout the game which directly affected the unfolding narrative of the protagonist. Each episode had a plethora of options to choose which meant each player’s story could be different to the next person – creating a custom experience for each individual. This led to heightened discourse amongst the gaming communities about how their choices had changed the narrative in comparison to others, consequently spreading interest, excitement and demand for the game.

As successful as each example was (and there are many, many more) there is a strong demand for further customisation with customers demanding ever better brand experiences. Innovation around this trend is likely to be a hot topic in the years to come.

Natalie Aylward

27.06.16