Following up on our news of Zynga labelled tomatoes last week, 7-Eleven has announced that they’ll be releasing over 30 items that include Zynga labels and codes worth Zynga virtual currency. Players will be able to take their purchased items home, enter a code written on the item into the “Buy, Earn, Play” website created for the promotion and earn money in either YoVille, Farmville or Mafia Wars. What does this mean for social games and what can we expect to see in the future?
Taking a look at the Buy Earn Play page, this is not a small promotion. The high production video explaining the promotion explains that there will be a massive number of products available with the Zynga promotion, and that consumers just need to enter their codes by SMS or at the buyearnplay site to get a free, smaller gift and also “punch a hole” in their online Zynga punch card. Once they get up to 9 holes, they get their special reward, which is an ‘uber item’ for one of their favorite games. Zynga’s also using the opportunity to push their Zynga game cards, which count as two holes punched. These gives players virtual currency in whichever game they want.
Social gaming has always been seen as a casual diversion and has lived in the shadows of so-called ‘real’ console games. Promotions like this start to blur the line and bring social gaming into mainstream culture in a bigger way. The fact that we’ll now be seeing Farmville every time we head to 7-Eleven will probably mean we’ll see tons of children getting really excited about the game. The idea that a Slurpee can get you some new game items in Farmville or Mafia Wars will be a really strong incentive for today’s game-obsessed youth. Combine this with the fact that 7-Eleven will be promoting this in print and online, as well as in television spots with MTV (as reported by Games.com).
The question is whether the promotion will eventually drive revenue for Zynga. This Zynga promotion is essentially an advertising deal that drives users to their games, but doesn’t monetize those users particularly well. Certainly, Zynga is keeping a close tab on the number of users that will be using the promotion and then observing their behavior after entering the code. Will they eventually upsell to buy more virtual currency through Zynga or not? What do you think?