If you develop social, or land-based casino gaming products, you've probably used music in your games - to create ambience and reward users.
Using it correctly is a crucial part of heightening consumer experience and engagement: encouraging longer play sessions, repeated plays, and improved monetization.
Your players may be indulging in a game of chance, but you don't have to.
1. Sound in slots machines triggers the limbic system, influencing emotion, decision-making behavior, and motivation. (Study)
This is marked by increased sweating and overestimation of winnings in music vs non-music conditions.
However, players can simply turn off the audio on their mobile devices, so just having music is not enough.
To achieve this benefit, players must be motivated to listen to the music in the first place.
This can be achieved if the music adds to the experience by being:
Pleasant to listen to, and
Complementary to the art/narrative/general aesthetic architecture.
Other factors such as ear fatigue, appropriateness of genre, continuity of experience across levels, and more must be considered.
These can certainly be tested before implementation.
2. The character of background music shapes opinion of the product experienced by up to 60% (Study)
Users create strong cognitive associations between your game and its music, which can powerfully impact the experience.
Therefore, if a soundtrack contains poorly executed loops and clipping audio, sounds cheap, or is simply not pleasant to listen to, it can have a tangibly detrimental effect on users' overall opinions.
This can manifest in lackluster App Store reviews and diminished replay value.
Or users may simply turn off the audio, resulting in the loss of the benefits in point #1 and defeating the purpose of having music in the first place.
3. This third one is a little tricky and requires 3 concepts. Ready?
Behavior-driving emotional responses take 0.074s (Study), 2x faster than a blink.
Familiar music triggers emotional responses better than unfamiliar music. (Study)
Music can distort our perception of time. Familiar music makes us believe we are spending more time than we actually are, and may cause shorter play sessions. (Study)
So, how do we trigger the desired response, while avoiding the "time-distorting" effect?
Blending Familiarity With Novelty
Classical music pieces that have survived for hundreds of years generally contain a small amount of source material that composers continually transform throughout the piece.
Each section may sound different from the last, but is often related in some mathematical way.
This allows composers to use novel elements that keep listeners guessing, while maintaining continuity from one piece or section to the next.
Beethoven's 5th symphony is used in every conservatory as the archetypal example of this.
In games, one can achieve this by presenting musical material that users are familiar with in a different format.
The familiar elements of the music draw users in emotionally, while the novel elements keep things fresh and unfamiliar in a manageable way, preserving brand continuity while constantly transforming it to retain interest.
In the context of the modern music industry – covers of old and popular songs can breathe new life into aging material.
Here, we see Johnny Cash presenting a new rendition of "Hurt", by Nine Inch Nails.
These are arguably two artists far apart on the stylistic spectrum, and yet it was hugely successful, with this video alone garnering over 10 million views.
The same applies to games!
Applying a small amount of source material across levels and game states, kept fresh by arrangements in different genres and instrumentations, along with new musical updates, can strengthen the game brand and user experience greatly.
Sometimes, this can result in the music taking on a life of its own:
Thanks For Reading!
Hope you found this useful! For more interesting information about music and audio as applied to different business situations, check out Sonic Atlas.