Using mobile games as part of a brand-building promotional strategy

As president of digital media at leisure giant Falcon's Beyond, Jason Ambler has made mobile gaming a key component in their theme park's promo plans

Using mobile games as part of a brand-building promotional strategy

With the increasing popularity of mobile gaming it’s no surprise that you’ll find companies in the most unexpected of places integrating them into their promotional strategies. Aside from major heavyweights in food and drink such as Fanta, it seems that even theme park operators are getting in on the mobile gaming craze.

Katmandu: Ethermerge is a simple match-2 title being produced by Falcon’s Beyond and developed in collaboration with Epic Story Interactive. Falcon's Beyond are the company who run a number of parks and attractions including the two of the titular Katmandu parks, one in Spain, opened in 2007, and one in the Dominican Republic which opened earlier this year. And who have pursued this latest surge of multimedia promotional strategies.

As part of the promotional strategy for their brand, Falcon’s Beyond has pursued not only a Roblox experience, an e-commerce store and an animated series, but now also a mobile game.

So what does a relatively innocuous match-2 merge add to more traditional methods of promotion? We find out more about the approach and rationale behind their mobile title from the president of digital media at Falcon’s Beyond, Jason Ambler.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about what you’re doing? It’s a little unusual to use a mobile game to promote a theme park. 

Jason Ambler: We are certainly continuing to promote our Katmandu Parks through various forms of advertising and social media activation; however, we believe that Katmandu has the potential to be a much larger consumer brand than what has now been established and well-received at the parks themselves.

We view our mobile games less as a promotional tool, and more as an important platform extension of our Katmandu brand.
Jason Ambler

Our entrance into the world of mobile gaming with Katmandu: EtherMerge supports our 360-degree expansion strategy for the Katmandu franchise, activating the brand concurrently across all forms of entertainment, including media content, video games, consumer products, and, of course, the themed entertainment destinations themselves.

In essence, we view our mobile games less as a promotional tool, and more as an important platform extension of our Katmandu brand; one that allows us to engage with our audience in new and meaningful ways.

Merge games are a relatively popular genre, but why go for this genre over others?

We chose to make our mobile game debut with a merge-2 game, due to its wide international appeal and casual nature of gameplay. As a familiar and accessible genre, we can welcome existing fans of Katmandu, as well as introduce the brand to new audiences.

We saw great value in a game that players could pick up and put down and fit in within their daily lives and other activities. What’s great about this format is that Katmandu Park guests can play our Katmandu: EtherMerge mobile game while waiting in the queue line at one of our attractions or even continue their relationship with the brand once they return at home.

Why did you choose to work with Epic Story Interactive on this title?

We had previously announced our alliance with Epic Story Media to support early Katmandu franchise development and expansion across media content, games, and consumer products. Through that alliance, the Epic team has gained intimate knowledge of our Katmandu brand, lore, and aspirations, which is why it made sense for us to collaborate with their game studio, Epic Story Interactive (ESI).

Not only did Epic’s culture, process, and methodology closely align with our own, but they also have extensive knowledge and expertise in developing and publishing mobile and online games for beloved children’s brands such as Slugterra, Ben 10 and Beyblade. While ESI has particularly strong experience in Match-3 style games, EtherMerge was their first foray into creating a merge-2 game, so all the gameplay and mechanics had to be developed from the ground up.

Who is this title aimed towards in terms of age, employment, gender and other demographics?

One of the main reasons we chose to debut with a Merge-2 style game is its international appeal to a very wide demographic with a very high age ceiling, both male and female, much like our Katmandu Park destinations. Considering the already broad reach and popularity of merge games and the inclusive nature of the Katmandu brand, we see Katmandu: EtherMerge as a game for just about anyone.

Do you have plans for any more mobile games in the future? Can you tell us what they’ll be like?

Falcon’s is only just beginning to realise its ambitions in mobile gaming, and gaming in general. We are not only looking at further brand extension for Katmandu in this space, but also introducing some exciting new brands and franchises we have in development, as well as new experiences with our licensed partner brands. We will be exploring new game styles, formats, genres, and target audiences and are looking forward to sharing more updates on these plans in the future.

Do you feel mobile gaming is an important part of promotional strategies across many industries, including theme parks?

Absolutely. Expanding our brands across multiple channels at the same time is core to our strategy, and what we believe that audiences are craving. Consumers and fans want to connect with their favorite characters, stories and brands across any number of platforms including consumer products, brick-and-mortar entertainment destinations, media content, and even, dare we say, the metaverse. We have to be everywhere that they are.

With mobile gaming being the largest and fastest-growing segment of the largest category of the entertainment industry, it is certainly a huge part of our vision at Falcon’s Beyond as a diversified technology, entertainment, and media enterprise.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the Pocketgamer.com editorial team in November of 2023.