5 Min Read

Cool Spot: A Pioneer of In-Game Recognition and Rewards

Learn more about Cool Spot, the first ever example of in-game item recognition being linked with physical rewards.

April 16, 2024

Cool Spot: A Pioneer of In-Game Recognition and Rewards


With an estimated 3.09 billion gamers globally, in-game product placement and advertisement is set to become a mainstay marketing funnel for brands and retailers globally as other popular digital entertainment experiences begin to dwindle in comparison. 

Capitalizing on the boom of gaming, 2023 hosted a range of successful video games co-developed with major E-Commerce brands with examples including Ralph Laurne’s “Race to Greatness” released in Fortnite, and Nike’s Roblox based game “Nikeland”. Paving the way for brands to create unique experiences within the most popular gaming metaverses and platforms. 

Despite the upside potential of in-game product placement and advertisement, there is yet to be a clear pathway developed to support players move from a gaming experience to an E-Commerce platform or rewards system which doesn’t disrupt or remove the player from the game itself. Furthermore, many in-game advertisements (for example pop-up video ads) destroy gameplay and irritate users with the player forming negative perceptions of the brand and not interacting with the product as intended.  

Forming these pathways which enable brands to interact with gamers in a non-disruptive and positive manner is a major challenge now being tackled to provide a clean end-to-end solution for brands to co-develop engaging games, connect users with their existing sales platforms, and form positive audience perceptions along the way.

Cool Spot: The Game and its Reward System

Cool Spot, a branded game released in 1993, is one of the earliest examples available of ‘real-world’ (or physical / tangible) rewards being gifted to players who reach a certain level of skill within the game. Produced by Virgin Games, in collaboration with 7UP, Cool Spot was developed for several gaming platforms (mainly the Nintendo gaming systems). The concept of branded games wasn’t new at this time with other titles including: “Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool” (1992), and “Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension” (1992) being on-the-market, however Cool Spot added a new dimension to gaming through providing these real-world incentives to increase playtime and engagement. 

Cool Spot is a single-player platform game in which the player controls the title character, the 7UP mascot. With 11 levels of increasing difficulty, the player must rescue other cool spots, who look exactly alike, from their cages; in order to do so, the player must collect a minimum number of “spots” throughout each level. Beyond players being incentivized to complete all the levels, Cool Spot was reported to be one of the most popular games of its time receiving praise from the likes of Pelit who gave the game a score of 82%, and summarized it as “one of the most enjoyable platform games in a long time”. Furthermore, Cool Spot was ranked 88th on Complex’s ‘Best Super Nintendo Games of All Time’ list. The game cost $50 (usd) at the time (this would now cost approximately $89) and boasts over a million copies sold, which at the time is incredible.

The 7UP branded start screen of Cool Spot, the 1993 hit Nintendo platform game.

In-game reward infrastructure and system familiarity at the time was non-existent. As a new concept, players had to complete several steps in-order-to claim their Cool Spot grand prize, which was reported to be a case of 7UP. A case is presumed to have been 12 cans of 7UP, which at the time would have cost approximately $7.80 ($16.30 today). Players were tasked with achieving a perfect score while playing Cool Spot on the highest difficulty setting, a task which (once able to competently play the game) would have taken approximately just over 2 hours to complete when focused purely on winning the grand prize. It was reported that on average it would take 9+ hours to complete the game at any difficulty setting. After completing the challenge, a congratulatory screen would appear, prompting the player to take a photo of their device (with the screen clearly visible), and send that photo to the head offices to redeem the grand prize, which would be posted promptly to them. Unfortunately, there is no data on just how many players were able to achieve this score and received the case of 7UP for their efforts.

Cool Spot is the first example of players being prompted to photograph, scan, or detect items within a game to be rewarded with a physical reward for their efforts. With recent advances of in-game product placement, and the subsequent growth of in-game item detection and reward infrastructure now being developed, Cool Spot acts as a historical reminder that combining outstanding gameplay with real-world rewards serves as a tremendous platform for brands to constructively build relations with players in a positive and effective manner.

A prompt viewable to users who have met the requirements to receive the Cool Spot 7UP Grand Prize.

Where are In-Game Rewards Now?

MVG is continuing to develop its comprehensive end-to-end ecosystem for brands to develop their own custom games within Fortnite and Roblox and integrate their existing merchandise into those games for users to collect, wear, and scan. Using their mobile device, players are able to detect in-game items and receive unique real-world rewards for their effort while never leaving the gaming platform itself. 

What does this mean for brands? It is becoming easier than ever for brands to connect with their audience in a meaningful and engaging way with MVG through immersive experiences which are non-disruptive and can even improve gameplay through personalization. The infrastructure required to reduce activation cost while creating fully-transparent analytics continues to be streamlined making it simpler for brands to create unforgettable experiences that customers love. 

To conclude, brands seeking to connect with their audience in a new and authentic way should be developing gaming experiences and connecting real-world rewards through MVG’s unique offering. MVG provides brands with a clear end-to-end pathway for creating real connections with the next generation of customers in platforms they are most commonly found in.

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