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Future Now | Could Games Be The Next Shopping Ground?

It looks like game makers Nintendo and DeNa are about to go there somewhat -- together. They're coming up with something called Miitomo and it isn't quite a regular game but something that involves entertainment and messaging

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On the face of it, building shopping options into games, is a brilliant idea. For those who have something to sell anyway.

For one thing. you catch someone at the height of their emotions. When a gamer is perhaps maximally inspired or identifying with a character, in fact, living it. When a gamer wants to be the character in the game. You have in-app purchases that are directly related to the game, of course. You buy levels, or weapons or features, and so on. But what if you were also able to buy say, clothes and accessories. Or a watch. Or gadget. Shoes, maybe. The game developer would partner with brands to weave in purcahses of selected items for which the game provides context. Leaving out the stuff that could hurt someone, I'd say clothing, accessories and electronics.

Sounds like a Pandora's box? It probably is. I'm not sure it's legal everywhere or whether app stores allow it. Amazon, for instance, does let you buy virtual stuff not directly connected to the game but doesn't actually link to physical items available on the vast online store.

A spot survey I just conducted shows 73 percent saying No Way. I presume everyone's thinking of how their kids could go wild buying stuff they don't need -- and they'd be right. In fact, it's probably because it's the young and impressionable that are involved more than anyone else here, that it would be a restriction in app ecosystems. Even if it wasn't, there would be a social backlash against such an idea fast enough.

But it looks like game makers Nintendo and DeNa are about to go there somewhat -- together. They're coming up with something called Miitomo and it isn't quite a regular game but something that involves entertainment and messaging. But it does involve Mii characters which the gamer is encouraged to mould after oneself. There's a strong social aspect to it with gamers being able to involve Facebook friends etc. So, users can buy clothes for those characters, which isn't the same thing as buying clothes for yourself that the character is wearing. Like buying clothes for a Barbie doll. But once you've gone into this territory, the next step could easily be buying real stuff. After all, you buy things through almost everything else, so why not?

It's just that kids who are vulnerable to being manipulated into shopping and mopping up the cash on their parents' credit cards could be a huge problem. With Buy Buttons appearaing everywhere including Instagram, a less obvious form of them could be built into games, perhaps with strong parental controls built-in so that not everyone can go wild. It could even be that purchases can be linked to fingerprint access, not passwords. It's a matter of time. And not too much of it either.


Tags assigned to this article:
apps shopping options games Miitomo DeNa