Named as one of the hottest online marketing trends to look out for in 2013 by entrepreneur.com, online game platforms, whether they be on an iPhone or right on a person’s computer, can boost brand awareness and help with marketing research. Recently, the popular television show The Simpsons followed the trend and released an iPhone app of their own—The Simpsons: Tapped Out. The premise of the app is this: Springfield has been destroyed by Homer Simpson’s negligence at the power plant. The explosion that occurred because of his lack of attention destroyed and scattered all of the townspeople. In the app, it is up to you, the player, to “tap” your way back to normalcy. By making the Simpsons do simple tasks that take a certain amount of time, you get money to rebuild iconic Springfield. The comic book store, the elementary school, Cletus’ farm—these are only some of the things that you have to rebuild in order to restore peace in Springfield.
The game is important because it gives the player an inside look at the town. It also is constantly being updated with new content, often relating to the storyline of the television show. In a recent episode about hipster culture moving to Springfield, “Tapped Out” featured a new building you could build called the “Cool Brown House”. It also activated an alternative costume for Homer to wear and new tasks that he could do including “Drinking a Buff Blue Ribbon” and “Screen Mumblecore Films.” This is a humorous way for the company to personally interact with its viewers. There are also opportunities for Fox to make money off of the application; users have the option of purchasing in game currency with real money. Tapped Out is one of the highest grossing applications in the app store, so this form of marketing is clearly working.
The biggest achievement of the application is how much better the player gets to know the characters of the show. The tasks belonging to different characters reveal facets of his or her personality. The motive is to make the players connect with the in game characters on a personal level resulting in an even more engaging experience when the player goes back and watches the Simpsons.