Videogames as marketing/promotional tools are nothing new - take a look at Doritos Crash Course on the Xbox 360, for instance.
Going back even a decade ago, we had the cult hit Pepsi-Man being released for the PlayStation One.
Of course, much has changed since those heady days, with mobile gaming now the dominant platform for many people.
So then, it's refreshing to see South Africa's Sunrise Productions step up to deliver relevant games on the platform, the latest title being made for Cricket South Africa (CSA).
ZAC's Batting Academy, available on Android and iOS, is a batting game (in case the name wasn't a clue) starring CSA's official mascot ZAC. Featuring some slick visuals and a neat upgrade system, it's certainly no Flappy Bird.
It's not the first time that Sunrise has developed a promotional game, with Sharkie for The Sharks rugby team being another recent release, hitting the 150 000 download mark since then.
Cynics will no doubt be quick to claim that promotional titles are shoddy quick-fixes for corporate overlords - but upon playing the game, it's clear that a good amount of effort went into it.
Creating the game
So just how long did it take to make then?
"Probably about seven months (from concept to completion), but actual development time was closer to three or four months," said David Hecker, head of digital at Sunrise Productions.
"The last month alone was just [focused - ed] on polish and tightening the controls and the overall user experience."
Even then, a few months of development time isn't always a guarantee of success, with plenty of challenges for a promotional title.
"The core thing for us is to remain true to the brand and to the character. As we've been involved with these characters from the very beginning, we understand completely who they are and how they would react to situations, but it's really important to make sure that comes across to the player as well," said Hecker.
"One particular area for ZAC was in making sure that there is an educational component to him too, without turning the game into a boring text book! So we did little things like add tips and real-world cricket advice to all the loading screens."
Another important goal was to ensure that the game was easy to pick up and play, while staying both fun and challenging.
"It's a delicate balance but I think we've got it right," said Hecker.
Why promotional games?
Even if a game ticks all the boxes, there'll no doubt be marketers and other corporate types wondering why they should opt for the format in the first place.
"With traditional marketing, the engagement is purely on the terms set by the marketer," Hecker elaborates, with the marketer choosing TV, radio or magazines, for instance. However, if the media is not in your immediate surroundings, the message falls on deaf ears.
Games and other interactive experiences allow the user to set the rules of engagement, Hecker continues.
"If you're in a long queue at the bank? Play a game on your phone. Same as if you're on the train on your way to work. Ironically, a large number of players are looking for quick sessions to pass the time during ad breaks on television, so they really are setting the rules themselves."
Nevertheless, promotional games are one way to make games for a living in South Africa. For instance, local juggernauts QCF Design created "advergames" early on before striking it big with Desktop Dungeons. Any chance of Sunrise branching out then?
Hecker says the company remains devoted to its partners, adding that they'll continue to support their partners for "a very long time".
However, Sunrise "may or may not have a couple of in-house projects" in the pipeline, Hecker cheekily says, without being able to elaborate just yet.
Either way, we're always glad to see another South African game released on mobiles, joining the likes of Pocket RPG, The Harvest, Dig! and Snail Boy, to name a few.
For more information about Sunrise Productions, visit their website.