Fifa will now announce 2 Footballers of the Year!

Posted by Rahul Sethi on 1:33 PM

Football is now moving to the virtual stage with Fifa announcing a mass gaming contest called the Fifa Interactive Cup. The contest has been announced as a partnership with the Sony Playstation interactive network.

About 10, 000 players from 25 countries have decided to compete in this event and win a place on the top of the leader board and then try and fight of the best to become the World’s best interactive footballer.

The event follows a 2 fold structure. Players can either qualify for the final by playing in Live events that Sony holds in various countries or by playing as many games online and having a high win ratio. The events that Sony holds events have/ will be held in 25 countries such as England, Portugal, Korea, Japan, Hungary etc (basically all the football crazy nations).

The events are a great branding opportunity for Sony as well as Fifa because once a user enters these events, the entire Playstation experience combined with the magic it does to Fifa games can be showcased to them (the interactive and gaming experience as well as the environmental experience). The beauty of these events is that even non Playstation users can take part. So effectively there too the PS3 can virtually be sold without the need of any salesman. If a player manages to win the event, he is probably going to need a PS3 package along with a Fifa08 disc to practice. If he does not win, he can always try to win next year and he can spend the entire year practicing on the PS3 that he must buy. Skeptics may say that users are not dumb – they won’t spend so much just because they went to some stupid event.

Well they just may because:
1) The PS3 is undoubtedly a superior product in terms of graphic and hardware acceleration and works fantastically (probably better than any other gaming device) for Fifa 08

2) The event will attract only hard core hungry gamers, so there’s a specific TA coming to these events whose attention span is high for such products; in media planning terms this is referred to as their aperture.

3) The events manage to showcase the PS3 in a way that no other advertising can. People can touch and feel the product, and the environment of the place also generates great perceived quality cues to the customer. So in essence, the event takes the gamer to a totally different World. Something that gamers always wish for.
Such an event can also work as a great loyalty exercise for PS. Many of the existing PS users are yet to migrate from PS2 to PS3 and such an event can effectively convey the PS3’s ‘interactivity’ and ‘superior graphics’ USP’s.

The events are also great for existing football junkies and also for the creation of new football junkies. Every football fan feels like he knows the game better than any manager on the field. He wants to believe that he knows the game and can contribute to it. Notice how football fans are always giving the television screen ‘advice’ the next time you watch one of the games. So the Fifa interactive format lets them play their favourite players.

In addition to that, football fans usually watch games in groups. So there is the feeling that one fan is a better ‘expert’ of the game than the other. Notice how they are always trying to outdo each other in terms of the technical as well as general ‘knowledge’ they posses about the game. So this kind of an online interactive format is perfect since groups of friends can compete against each other and if they find that they are better than the rest they can even approach people they do not know and challenge them and steadily move up the leader board. Thus enhancing their loyalty to Fifa 08, the entire Fifa game franchise and also the complete Fifa franchise. Football can be assured that it has 1 more fan for life.

These Sony - Fifa off- and online competitions will run from October 2007 through to April 2008 culminating in the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final in May 2008 in Berlin.

I think the take backs for companies looking to capitalize on Social Networking for any kind of products are:
- Create events that simultaneously can be accessed ‘offline’ as well. This must be done since the product/ service or a combination of the 2 can be showcased on a larger platform and it serves as a great branding exercise for engagement – also it ropes in people who may not have been exposed to the virals online. This is key for a country like India where a large number of of users are not always online – events provide them with an incentive to do so (which can then be explored as a bigger opportunity)

- Give opportunities for users to compete/ showcase what they have done/ recommend to others. Users love being made to feel superior, cool, and intelligent.

- Make the service easily accessible. Don’t involve a lot of start up steps.

- Create cross social 2.0 applications that can be shared and shown to others various tools of social 2.0 such as blogs, social networks, chats etc.

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