The Perfect Pandemic Pivot Product
15th November 2021•
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Piing’s reason for being is to create fun times for crowds. In the olden days BC, (Before Covid), that meant a venue full of people gathering around huge screens playing our games using their phones as controllers – all in the same room, all sharing one magical experience. Taking this to the extreme, March 14th 2020 was due to be our biggest massively multiplayer game yet: a potential 50,000 football fans playing our Penalty Shootout game, inside the same stadium. That was until Friday 13th, just one day before, when everything changed.
So, what does a company who make games for crowds do when crowds have been outlawed for the foreseeable? Like many companies in the live events, we didn’t just hide and hope the world would go back to normal; we made the assumption that it would be 12-18+ months before we can get together again, so instantly pivoted to creating a platform for games and shared experiences for crowds, no matter where they might be, anywhere in the world.
2020 was the year of the quiz so we took the familiar format and took it to the next level with our usual Piing touch – putting a live host in the players’ phones, and providing all the interactive touch-points and feedback for the presenter to have live banter with the virtual players, ensuring everyone felt part of the shared experience, even though they were far apart. As well as our own interactive gameshows, our lockdown product brought people together at virtual conferences, events and Christmas parties, embracing virtual crowds for the likes of Lenovo, Fujitsu, Autotrader, The Printworks, The University of Salford, not to mention several Premier League football clubs. At one event we had players joining in from Argentina, Barcelona and Queensland - all in the same interactive shared experience.
Although built because of lockdown, it was essential from the outset that we weren’t making a lockdown only product – it had to work in lockdown, yes, but one day we will be back to some kind of normality, and our product would have to work in that future world too. So as we ventured from virtual events to hybrid events, we released our Big Screen view, letting the content that appears on players’ phones also be visible on real world big screens.
At a recent internal employee engagement event at fashion powerhouse ASOS, around 100 staff played live in their main atrium space, whilst an even larger crowd joined from their home offices, all feeling part of the same shared experience both at work and at home. Everything worked seamlessly, with our client saying this was one of the best pieces of employee engagement they had ever seen.
With the further lifting of restrictions in 2021, we’ve seen the gradual return to live, with our Fanzone games entering back into the Premier League, in the Bundesliga, and real world events.
And last week, we feel we achieved the treble with our Gameshow 'Quiiz' being used for a solely live room full of people:
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home held a real world fund raising dinner, with a star studded guest list, Ali Taylor (and her dog Olive), from Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs, hosted by the wonderfully talented Sue Perkins. With all the questions, answers, quirky notes and live data at her finger tips, Sue held the audience in the palm of her hand, directly interacting with the different tables, and the individual players as they answered each question.
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Whilst the stats showed 90%+ direct engagement in the room, for us it was the noise of the crowd that made it special. The Ooohs… Aaahhhs… Noooooos and Yeahs reminded us why we created Piing in the first place: to put big smiles on people’s faces and remind them what it means to feel part of a group.
As Battersea Special Events Manager Becky Sohatski said:
The whole room got involved and loved it. It was fantastic!
Reading an article or watching a video is one thing, but nothing compares to actually playing our games for real. With virtual, hybrid and real world events in the pipeline, we’re running numerous demos every week, but there’s always room for one more. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to set something up.