Musings of a Skeptical Super Nerd & Gamer



Silly Game Contests are Silly

Silly Game Contests are Silly

2011-05-06

I’ve noticed a trend lately where companies are trying to come up with more “creative” ways to let gamers enter contests; primarily by, you guessed it, playing the game.

Now, this isn’t a terrible idea at first. Give free access to a game, or maybe a demo, and reward players for reaching arbitrary milestones. Take for example Utopia Kingdoms, a free-to-play Facebook game (currently in beta) who’s teaming up with GameStop to give away a $10,000 GameStop gift card. That’ll buy some serious DLC. However, check out the entry requirements:

  • Register to play Utopia Kingdoms and you’ll receive 1 entry!
  • Play to level 5 and you’ll receive 5 entries!
  • Play to level 10 and you’ll receive 10 entries!

Now, because I plan to write about Utopia Kingdoms, I’m actually playing through level 10, considering the possible gift card as a fabulous bonus prize. That said, after two days of regular gameplay I’ve just reached level nine earlier this evening. Is it worth playing hours of a game you may not even enjoy to enter a contest?

Well, here’s the trick: legal requirements, at least in the US, mandate very simple entry methods. Typically, it’s a postcard dropped in the mail with your information. Of course, that costs a stamp, so entering ten times would actually cost a bit, making it less appealing. Luckily digging into the fine print yields some delicious details in the official rules:

To Enter Via Email: Send an email to [email protected], that includes your full name, phone number, email address and “Utopia Kingdoms Email Sweepstakes” in the email header and receive one (1) entry into Sweepstakes. Entrant can enter Sweepstakes ten (10) times via this method of entry.

That’s right; write ten emails (or really, one, then copy and paste it nine more times) and you’re done. Total time should be 2-3 minutes.

So what’s the takeaway? Be wary of odder and odder entry conditions for contests. If you’re genuinely interested in the product (I do recommend not entering contests you aren’t interested in out of respect for the contest promoter), always read the fine print. Well, at least skim for the “To Enter” (or similarly worded) section and check the alternative entry methods. It could save you a few hours, or a few bucks, depending on normal entry conditions.