In August 2016, to celebrate Serena Williams career, and her attempt to break the record for most singles titles in Tennis history, Gatorade built a 22-level in-app video game which users could access through Snapchat Ads.

The game lives on here.

Why I Enjoyed this Ad

The ad was well timed and gave Gatorade a tool to cut through the noise of hundreds of advertisers during the US Open. This campaign added value to fans by celebrating their biggest star, and letting them partake in the fun of “playing” a grand slam.

The attention to detail is incredible. Each level in the game corresponded to a different Grand Slam victory in Serena’s career, with subtle clothing changes, character changes for her opponents and court changes depending on the venue, all which corresponded to the real-life tournament.

The designers included some important aspects of good game design to keep players interested in a relatively simple game. For example:

  1. Players experienced increasing difficulty at every level (or at least I found it harder to win in each successive round).
  2. The screen shakes with every shot, giving you the feeling you have real power behind your 8-bit tennis strokes.
  3. The ability to hit “basic”, “great” and “perfect” shots (with accompanying grunts when you achieved perfection) gave players an immediate positive feedback loop, telling them if they are performing better or worse with every shot.
  4. They didn’t overcomplicate the game with complicated tennis scoring rules, or difficult serving mechanics, ensuring it was approachable for all players.
  5. The gameplay was very intuitive, reminiscent of the great 8-bit Nintendo video games in the 90’s, as well as more recent hits like Flappy Bird.
Example of a ‘Perfect’ shot

What is Missing?

The designers missed including a competitive scoring system which could have increased the longevity of the game.

For example, having a leaderboard which corresponds to people having the most perfect shots, the longest rally, or the quickest completion time of the 22 matches, would have had two key benefits:

  1. Players would have a reason to share the game with others to show their proficiency at the game, and challenge friends to beat their score. This is similar to how games like Flappy Bird incentivized players to compete for whoever could get the longest streak, resulting in over 50 Million downloads.
  2. It would give players a reason to continually replay the game to hone their skills and improve their score, increasing the longevity of the investment in the initial asset of developing the game.

What do you think about this campaign?



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