Beware the incredibly-addictive game agar.io that will turn you into a cannibal in the microbial sense. The goal of the game appears to be: eat or be eaten.
a∙gar noun gelatinous substance obtained from various kinds of red seaweed and used in biological culture media…
This stuff’s interesting if your day job is at a pharmaceutical company. I find the game enjoyable and yet maddening at the same time. You can’t believe how mean people can be until you’ve been at this for an hour… or a day. Did I mention that it’s addictive?
Gaming as marketing
And so I find that I need to market a new website that I’ve created, myJS.io. The game itself actually includes an advertising venue and yet those ads couldn’t be displayed at a worse time: your session’s game death. Seriously, your game death is a time for mourning (and usually some well-deserved cursing) but decidedly not for marketing purposes. On that note, if you play the game you need to turn off your sound and be ready to just quit the game and restart it—it’s much faster than trying to endure the inserted advertisements.
It’s interesting to note that Arnold Schwarzenegger appears to be in one of the ads and he’s trying to sell something to me. I couldn’t tell you what it is because I never watch the ad. I say this as a cautionary tail to Arnold and anyone else who wants to get your attention in the wrong way: you’re wasting your money.
Changing up the advertising model
And so, I play the game as I normally would only I opt out of any skins I’ve earned (I’m level 30 because I’m cool like that) and I tag myself with my new website’s domain name. And then—now this is important—I play in such a way that I’m hopefully not perceived to be a jerk.
The game incorporates features so that you can move your player in all directions plus two more options: 1) direct/shoot a small uncontrollable part of your mass away from you and 2) split and direct about half of your mass which you can control at someone else.
Your speed is determined inversely from your mass. You begin the game tiny and fast. As you progressively get larger, your speed is vastly diminished.
You increase mass by moving over (eating) small circles which represent nutrients, (possibly sugar), or by eating other smaller players or their parts which they’ve split off somehow.
Add to this a collection of green spiky viruses. If you run into a virus and you’re slightly larger than it is then you’re blown into smithereens and yet you still get to control the collection. And yet this is usually the trigger for a feeding frenzy as your neighbors eat you for lunch. If you’re the same size as the virus or smaller you can pass through safely.
A normal strategy for most appears to be to eat anything around them that they can. Some form alliances by sharing mass with another player then teaming up on others. Yet others hide behind viruses. Another strategy is to shoot enough of your mass into a virus so that it creates and shoots another virus at some larger player, causing them to blow up (with the subsequent feeding frenzy).
There are splitting attacks, multiple splitting attacks, baiting attacks, corner attacks and one that I really hate: a smaller player approaches you and at the last moment their team mate gives them enough mass to eat you.
But nowhere in all that did I describe the strategy of simply: eating the sugar and being nice to others. Apparently, that strategy doesn’t appear to exist, until now at least.
Enter the marketing strategy
So now, I visit agar.io and play the game with my website’s domain name as my tag. My strategy is to eat sugar, play nice, avoid eating the small/helpless and just survive as long as possible. The longer I survive, the more people will see my domain name.
Is it better than standard advertising? It’s certainly better than others I can think of. The only money it costs me is my time but it’s a fun game so I don’t mind. I’d bet that hundreds of the habitual players have even memorized my domain name by now and some of those have even visited the website. In fact, there have been many times when another player shows up and then rewards me out of the blue, seemingly, with mass. Presumably they remember me from some previous session. Think of this as karma-based game marketing.
Eventually, someone who sees my website might want their own website or app designed and all this will have paid off. And even if it doesn’t, what did I lose ultimately?