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Dave & Buster’s showcases mobile games’ growing role with in-store rewards

Restaurant and entertainment complex chain Dave & Buster’s is tapping three new mobile games to drive customer engagement in-store and offsite while offering prizes redeemable at its locations.

Consumers will be able to play the games in a digital space and receive points that will automatically be stored on their Power Cards, which keep track of all games played at Dave & Buster’s bricks-and-mortar restaurants. If guests choose to play while at home or on-the-go, they may redeem their digital points for real-world tickets and select prizes ranging from tablets to video games during their next restaurant visit.

“When it comes to mobile, audiences are more receptive to marketing when the brand offers something of value in return,” said Sara Beaty, marketing director of media effectiveness solutions at Millward Brown Digital, Boston. “By extending the in-store experience to mobile, Dave and Buster’s not only offers value through entertainment, but also tangible value in the form of rewards and prizes.”

Driving engagement
The games, which are available for Android and iOS devices, are designed to continue branded engagement with customers both in-store and after leaving the restaurant. More food and beverage marketers are devising strategies to reach consumers on mobile as soon as they leave the premises, selecting gaming experiences as a top tactic.

The three new games, Big Bass Wheel, Tippin’ Bloks and Speed of Light, are based on customers’ favorite games at Dave & Buster’s restaurants.

The brand’s vendor partners sought to expand on the arcade theme and optimize features for smaller screens as well as implement technology that enables guests to accumulate tickets and transfer them to Power Cards.

However, the mobile games are application-based rather than Web-based, which may deter some customers from allotting a slice of their smartphone’s prime real estate to Dave & Buster’s content.

“Studies have shown that the majority of people today access the Internet through their mobile devices, and therefore mobile app-based games are more effective,” said Melissa Greenberg, general manager at Fetch, New York. “It allows brands to have a constant presence with their users and engage them using strategies like push notifications and gamification.

“As mobile continues to trend upward and become the primary screen for users, restaurant brands should double down on their mobile strategies, especially as patrons always have their device with them when visiting a restaurant. With beacons becoming more prominent, restaurants have a personalized way to interact with their customers as well as drive more traffic.”

Players will be able to stack endless waves of blocks with the Tippin’ Bloks game, swipe lighted dots in Speed of Light and spin the wheel for points with Big Bass Wheel.

Potential prizes include gaming consoles, tablets, toys and video games. The fact that consumers are required to visit a bricks-and-mortar location to redeem their points and tickets is a smart way of ramping up in-store traffic.

Diners can also challenge each other if eating out in a group.

Mobile’s in-store role
Additional food marketers are tapping mobile devices to offer entertainment to guests while dining in-store as well as provide streamlined payment methods.

Olive Garden recently employed tablets in its bricks-and-mortar locations, enabling customers to order and pay via the devices and play games at the table while waiting for their food (see story).

Offering diners in-store activities that may be leveraged via smartphones is also becoming a popular tactic for many restaurant establishments with a strong social atmosphere.

Last September, sports restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings sought to further enhance customers’ experience by introducing a series of sports-based games that can be played via Web site, mobile app or tablets in the restaurant (see story).

“Loyalty rewards can act as tools to help engage users, promote products and push users to make purchases directly in an app,” Ms. Greenberg said. “Retailers in particular have rediscovered the power of a strong loyalty program when paired with a mobile application.

“Traditionally, brand loyalty is lower for millennials and higher with older demographics, but by integrating with mobile apps, it entices millennials by engaging them on their terms, on the device they are most comfortable with,” she said.

“And with mobile games being incredibly popular now, even with the older demographic, it offers users a great way to engage with the brands in a fun way.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York