Gaming case study: Verizon takes mobile network to Minecraft

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Verizon managed to build a working cell phone within the boundaries of the game. This case study looks at how the mobile network operator generated six million views with no paid media.

Case study summary

• Mobile network latches onto Minecraft craze in a novel way
• Creates a working mobile network within the game
• Worked with popular Minecraft gamers to amplify message
• Generated 6 million views with no paid media

The challenge

The blocky building game Minecraft is already a popular spot for builds of ridiculous landscapes- so how could a mobile network put its brand into the world? Verizon teamed up with some coders and Minecraft superusers to extend Verizon coverage into the gaming world of Minecraft.

The solution

Getting a cell phone to function in Minecraft took quite a bit of work. Verizon and its partners built a custom application called Boxel that takes Web pages and video and turns them into blocks, essentially putting the visual information into terms Minecraft can understand and serve up to players within the world.

Working with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy and Minecraft design agency Blockworks Minecraft phone lets players make pixelated video calls and surf the Web. There's even a selfie-stick feature that lets you take a selfie and text it to a friend.

The video calls let users dial someone in they could can see them translated into a blocks avatar.

Meanwhile, a web-browsing feature isn't quite as useful, but it's still plenty entertaining. Websites are once again translated into blocks, so you're not going to get a lot of detailed reading done.

A demonstration video with Minecraft expert Captain Sparklez shows how the cell phone build works. He creates the phone and builds a cell tower (an impressive four-level-tall structure). Streaming particles give a visual indication that the phone is connected to the tower. He puts it through its paces by loading websites and making a couple of video calls.

Experienced Minecraft players can toy with the open-source libraries and create new experiences that involve turning video into blocks. The project code is available through software site GitHub.

The results

The campaign was a huge success, generating a huge amount of earned media coverage from press reports and social media. During the time that the phone was in the Miinecraft world, the campaign generated a huge six million views…all with no paid media

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