We've got more evidence that non-gaming celebrities hawking games on TV is the future.
We reported yesterday that gaming research analyst Jesse Divnich of the EEDAR group sees impressive results in Activision and Nintendo's recent use of non-game celebrities to hype games.
Celebrities and games. They've crossed paths plenty of times before, but we reached out to Divnich for more insight. He said that a new celebrity endorsement era is upon us.
"The use of celebrities to endorse games they aren't actually in is relatively new and rightfully so," he wrote to Kotaku in an e-mail. "It wasn't until 2006 that we began to see a large influx of casual and mainstream gamers into the market." He credits the simplistic controls of the Wii and DS for expanding the demographic to more people who would be swayed by a celebrity pitch-person.
Also important, he noted, is that the number of games being made has diminished since 2005, even as industry revenue has doubled. That means that big titles are making more money, enough to justify plunking down some dough for a celebrity endorsement.
Divnich said that the celebrity-who-isn't-even-in-the-game endorsement strategy has worked:
"In March, Nintendo ran a series of commercials with Lisa Kudrow to promote Professor Layton. The results? Sales in March 2009 surpassed first month sales back in February 2008. The game got a serious second-wind on retail shelves. Not because of an expansion pack or a price drop — common reasons why we would sales increase. It was all because a commercial was shot with a celebrity playing the game for 30 seconds, that's it!"
The other example Divnich likes to cite is the Rock Band - Guitar Hero war. He said that the amount of marketing money invested in each has been similar but that, in his view, the celebrity-focused campaign of Guitar Hero has helped it win out in the sales race this past season against Rock Band, which was advertised with game characters.
So… the idea is that celebrities, who have, until recently, seldom promoted games they're not in, can turn games into hits by playing them in TV commercials. Even a year after the game was released. Your gaming dollars at work. Sold?