It was something of a headline grabber when it launched earlier this month, but the success of Fishlabs’ Waterslide Extreme, a title based upon and designed to promote a recent Barclaycard advertising campaign, has created quite a storm on both sides of the pond.
Having been downloaded more than 2 million times in its first week, this free app has topped the App Store charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom, not to mention Fishlabs’ home country Germany, as well as France, Spain, Japan and 52 other countries. Waterslide Extreme may have become even more successful than the original ad itself.
‘The success is massive,’ Fishlabs CEO Michael Schade told us. ‘It’s the second week and Waterslide is #1 in almost every country and we have surpassed 3 million downloads just today. Of course, this is more proof that quality iPhone ad games can do pretty well for advertisers and, without saying too much, it won’t be our last ad game this year.’
You could hardly blame Fishlabs for wanting to continue to work on advertising tie-ins, but just how did Waterslide Extreme get off the ground in the first place?
‘Dare Digital, the agency behind the concept of Waterslide, contacted us after we had been #1 in UK with our first ad game Volkswagen Polo Challenge,’ Schade explained. ‘They wanted us to pitch for a Barclaycard iPhone game inspired by the popular waterslide TV ad. With Planet Riders we had a game in place that made Dare confident that we could do the job in time and in budget.
‘Fortunately, we could re-use some code so a first prototype was available quickly. It is essential to have a playable version as soon as possible to make sure everyone is on the same page, especially if there is a client involved who comes from outside the gaming industry.’
Waterslide Extreme isn’t the only successful advertising adventure the iPhone has taken of late, either. This week, MobilityWare has announced that Word Warp, which displays ads in between each level, is averaging just over $10,000 in revenue per month.
Naturally, the advantage Waterslide Extreme has is that it is free. It’s unlikely gamers would have been so welcome to pay for an app, however good, specifically designed to promote a product. It also remains to be seen just how its success will correlate to the success of Barclaycard. Brand recognition is key, but it’s unlikely that people will sign up for an account solely on the back of either an app or an ad campaign.
But positioning is everything, and Waterslide Extreme has shown that the iPhone can help convey a message– in this case, Barclaycard’s contactless technology– in an interactive way that, rather than replacing typical television advertising, can actually complement it. While the App Store wouldn’t be an appropriate market for every product out there, it’s fair to say that the success of Waterslide Extreme proves that iPhone developers and advertising agencies might be even more willing explore this option in the future.