The idea of real music being used in gaming tends to call major titles to mind. You might think first of Rock Band or Guitar Hero Live for instance, or of more recent VR adaptations of the same series. Over the years though, there have also been smaller and more “niche” examples of bands and even individual musicians tying their content to games of all kinds.
These examples may be subtler than Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but they are nonetheless effective ways for artists to broaden their audiences. So in this post we’re going to look at some of the different types of games bands today can make use of for marketing purposes.
Online arcades don’t represent the busiest or most active video games anymore, but we’ve seen that the right game-and-song combination can still garner attention. Most notable was the explosive popularity of Robot Unicorn Attack a number of years ago. This was a delightfully absurd game featuring a leaping robot unicorn, fairies, and explosions — all set to the tune of Erasure’s “Always,” which gained cult popularity through the game. The song and game were so closely linked that when Robot Unicorn 2 came out without the song, a CNET review lamented the lack of “Always” as the most charming and hypnotizing aspect of the original. Now, not every song pairing will be this impactful, and not every online arcade game will have the staying power of Robot Unicorn Attack. But musicians looking for creative marketing ideas may as well consider contacting online game developers. You never know who the next Erasure might be in this regard.
Digital slot machines are hugely popular in online gaming today, and have attained this status primarily through the implementation of themes meant to engage different audiences. Among these are movies, legendary characters, game shows, and, to our point, musicians and bands. In this case we don’t see many examples like Erasure and “Always,” but we do see a lot of aging or even deceased artists getting their material in front of modern gamers. From Megadeth to Guns N’ Roses, and from Ozzy to Michael Jackson, there are actually quite a few examples of music-driven slots — primarily involving rock and pop icons.
Slingo is a hybrid of bingo and slots, and is very much following the path laid out by the digital slot category (which is to say incorporating different themes in order to make games more appealing). There aren’t specific musician-inspired games just yet, but the category is inching closer. Amongst Foxy Bingo’s Slingo games, one can find some early hints at musical tie-ins — such as Slingo Lighting (which has a decidedly hard-rock aesthetic) or Britain’s Got Talent (which of course involves some allusions to musical performance). The game Slingo Advance even has a vague EDM flavor to it. It’s likely only a matter of time before there are prominent Slingo versions of some of the above-listed music slot games, and that makes this another category artists might consider trying to work their way into for a game-based marketing effort.
Mobile apps represent the most versatile medium in gaming today, and are thus perfect for this kind of idea. Unsurprisingly, there have already been plenty of examples — from a lifestyle game revolving around Katy Perry to a Candy Crush-esque rhythm game designed by Steve Aoki (to say nothing of Aoki’s presence in a Star Trek mobile game!). There’s basically endless potential in this space. If an artist or band today wants to experiment with marketing through games, mobile development companies should probably be the first points of contact.
None of these ideas are guarantees of attention or expanded audiences. But the examples across all of them show that we have seen musicians find success in various forms of gaming. The right combination of music, genre, and game design simply seems to work for fans.