betaworks-backed Dots has today announced its very first sponsorship/native advertising deal with GE. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As part of the sponsorship, Dots is releasing a special update with a new version of gameplay called Gravity Mode.
As it turns out, GE has created an entire week’s worth of science-related “holidays” (kind of like National Dance Day, or any other branded holiday). They’re calling it Brilliant Week, and the Dots sponsorship is meant to help promote Gravity Day, on September 8. (FYI, they chose 9/8 because 9.8m/s is the force of gravitational acceleration.)
According to co-founder Paul Murphy, Dots has passed up about half a dozen sponsorship opportunities before this one.
“We’ve politely (and graciously) filtered those out to narrow it down to brands like GE that enabled us to build functionality that’s accretive to Dots for players, said Murphy. “The player experience is and will always remain our focus.”
Murphy claims that there are between 25 million and 30 million Dots games played each day. The game is also available across multiple platforms including Android, iPhone, and iPad.
“We think that’s a pretty special opportunity for the right brand, assuming it aligns with Dots,” said Murphy. “For us, as long as we can create something with brands like GE that adds to the experience for our players, we think it’s important to experiment and learn as we grow.”
But is it too early? Dots was only launched in May, a few months ago, and has yet to add any sort of native advertising to the platform. The game continues to iterate over time, with things like Zen mode and multiplayer, but this is the first time that a brand is behind it. Will this scare off power users with an aversion to advertising or will they even notice?
More importantly, how does Gravity Mode Shuffler work?
Well, it’s a bit like Zen Mode in that there’s no time limits; you’re simply trying to connect as many dots into squares as possible.
However, if you get stuck, you have the option to press the Gravity Mode Shuffler button, which automatically shuffles and removes certain dots based on gravity and the angle of the phone. Clever, right?
As you progress, you level up which unlocks level cards. Each of these level cards wins you Dots which are stored permanently in your Dots bank, even after Gravity Mode is long gone. Gravity Mode Shuffler will be available all week.
This is hardly the first time we’ve seen mobile games partner with brands to deliver sponsored products. Remember Angry Birds Rio, Rovio’s first foray into animated content? The game matched up with a movie from 20th Century Fox, which inevitably opened up Rovio to a huge Angry Birds franchise, including animated shorts and merchandise.
Hasbro also took a majority stake in BackFlip studios to create Hasbro branded games, and Kabam has a strategic partnership with Warner Bros to create games around various films, like Lord of the Rings and Fast and the Furious.
However, unlike Rovio and Kabam, Dots isn’t necessarily pumping GE-branded content into the game. Instead, GE funded the development of a new form of gameplay with nary a mention of the brand itself within the game. It’s an interesting take on gaming sponsorships, but it’s still questionable how effective this is for the brand itself.