Game Template vs Custom Built Game - Which is better?

Saturday, March 2, 2019

So you want to include an advergame in your next marketing campaign… but should you use an inexpensive preexisting game template or do you need a more costly custom game to be built to fit your campaign goals?

Every campaign is unique, there is no one true path to take when undergoing a gamified marketing campaign. What your hopes and expectations are for an advergame may just fit the bill for a game template that is already available on the market, or you may find that your ideas for a campaign push into unexplored territory and require a little more time and money to develop. Here are a few quick questions that you can ask yourself in order to clarify what type of game you should go with:

  • What are you hoping to achieve with your gamified campaign?

  • How much of a budget do you have?

  • How much of a pregame timeline do you have for design and development?

  • How unique is your brand? 

If you can confidently answer all of the questions above, you will quickly have a sense of which path to take with your advergame’s construction. Lets take a deeper look.

What are you trying to achieve?

If you simply want to add a quick enhancer to your marketing efforts, then a game template can be a fast, easy and cheap way to quickly put together a game addition to your marketing. There are pre-built templates for games based on popular games within the app market, classic gaming platforms and TV gameshows. These templates allow for a quick turnaround time – but that can limit the detail of data capture, tracking and overall analytics recorded. Template games are not completely devoid of campaign numbers, but are known to sometimes be rather narrow in what they can record. In the end, template games are light-hearted fun, which may be all you are looking for in a campaign.

However, if your campaign goals are quite distinct then you may find that a custom game is a must. Previous clients have wanted to have games that visually identify with their brand yet strongly help educate the users in specific areas. The list of requirements often lead to finished products that incorporated multiple functions from different games into one new advergame. Trying to fit a detailed campaign outline into a previously carved template can result in a disappointing “glass slipper” scenario. The forced fit will result in a campaign that sell’s itself short on results.

How much campaign budget is allocated towards an advergame?

If the answer to the question above is “very little,” then you may be tempted to gravitate towards a template, however having the funds to create a customised experience doesn’t necessarily always mean you should opt for such an advergame. Returning to the earlier point, if what you hope to achieve with the campaign can be done within the confines of a template game, then by all means go down that path and use your extra budget to increase your marketing spend.

All this being said, the beauty of a custom built game is that you can take a lot more creative ownership over what the game’s functionality and cosmetics will look like as a finished product. Every client is unique, although we find a lot of them tend to be short on time and simply wanting some kind of interactive element to their next marketing initiative. But every once and awhile a client truly wants to offer an innovative experience for their customer base, and it is within this group of clients that custom games are prevalent.

Clients that want to have a finished product that doesn’t just “do the job” but is something they’re truly proud of, will almost always opt for a custom game that truly expresses their brand’s values.

How much time have you laid out for the game to be constructed?

Often when customers approach us about building an advergame for their next marketing initiative, it will be an addition to a larger campaign that has already been completed and is currently undergoing QA, resulting in the game being an “enhancer” of the preexisting material.

This scenario usually leaves the Gamify team with little time to turn around a launch ready advergame, frequently resulting in template games coming to the rescue.

The team at Gamify, as much as they are used to working within small timeframes, strongly recommend that you leave ample time before your campaign begins for design and development decisions, so that time itself doesn’t make campaign decisions for you.

Often we will deal with clients that have ambitious campaign goals but have not provided enough of a timeframe to accomplish their laundry list of goals. We will return to them with a range of solutions, all of which will be a step-down from their unrealistic campaign vision. We don’t like seeing clients settle for anything less than what they truly wanted, so make sure that you map out and dedicate a healthy amount of pre-campaign timeline towards advergame planning. Worst case scenario, you have a quick turnaround time and find yourself well and truly prepared for any other campaign challenges that may come your way.

How unique is your product/brand?

This question has more to do with your game structure choice than you think. Consider how many brands have a very straightforward message and an approachable product, now think about how broad those brands can afford to be with their game format as long as they can tie the messaging back to the campaign.

Unfortunately for brands that are not as identifiable or companies which have product offerings that require a little more education than most in order to enter the market, they do not have the luxury of creating an innovative experience as their innovative product needs to be balanced out with a familiar and approachable, classic game template.

Is there an “in-between” solution?

Yes, fortunately there is! Platforms such as Gamify are emerging that can help create hybridised approaches in advergames. After a range of clients have expressed their interest in particular template games, only to later convey that they would strongly benefit from features that are not originally in the game, Gamify has taken it upon themselves to recode and build upon their template library, in order to create a new hybrid game as an addition to their library.

An example of this happening can be seen in Gamify’s Game Library, where you can find an Endless Runner game template that has been updated to have a quiz component integrated in the gameplay. That’s right, a client wanted to have an interactive and visually exciting game that also had a component that educated and brought attention to their product at the same time.

While this wasn’t a completely unique build, it definitely wasn’t an “updated” version of a template game. This particular campaign birthed a new template that was built upon preexisting materials. Leading to both the timeline and price of the game’s construction to fall somewhere in the middle of both a custom and a template game.

A link to the example can be found right here.


There are both upsides and downsides to either game option. What it really boils down to for you as a client is how niché your product/ hopes for the game are and what kind of budget you have to play around with.

Some clients contact us with a clear objective and vision for how they want their campaign to roll out, which results in a willingness to pay whatever is required to get the desired finished product. In this case they were always destined for a custom game, there was no point in trying to force a detailed campaign outline to fit within the confines of a preexisting game template.

Likewise, other clients have campaign objectives but no real set pathway as to how they hope to achieve their objectives. Formulating a quote on a custom game is still on the cards but it seems less likely.

If we can map out through a preexisting game template how their campaign is going to achieve their objectives, then why complicate the procedure with a more lengthy and costly development process?

In the end, if you don’t quite know in advance what it is you want from an advergame campaign that’s perfectly normal. The proposal stage is a perfect time to start a dialogue with the Gamify team about what would be the best option moving forward for you.

Get 30% off Gizmo for the next 6 months!

Get 30% off Gizmo for the next 6 months!

Get 30% off Gizmo for the next 6 months!