CloudMade, which enables developers to add location-awareness, today said the first games using its recently launched Sponsored Locations capabilities will become available before the end of July. At least 30 games will be live with the feature by the end of the year, and among the advertisers already signed up to use it are supermarkets, fast food restaurants and clothing companies.

Everyone loves a freebie, and Sponsored Locations gives developers a way to give them away while monetizing their games. Partner retailers sponsor game items, levels, power-ups or other premium that is unlocked when the player goes to a physical location in the real world, adding a revenue stream in addition to advertising and microtransaction.

It’s kind of like the digital equivalent of the movie tie-in toy that comes with a fast food kid’s meal.

Sponsored Location increases the perceived value of a game and adds a level of treasure-hunt fun, according to Christian Petersen, CloudMade vice president, Community. Speaking with Digital Media Wire shortly before joining his panel today at LA Game Conference, he pointed out that the vast majority of freemium game players – over 95 percent – will not spend real money on in-game items.

“We learned that it’s nothing to do with the actual cost, it’s just the idea of doing it,” he said. “Some people just don’t see themselves as someone who would buy an in-game item. But Sponsored Location is not advertising to the user. It’s just another way to get the item they want.”

CloudMade also asked advertisers what problem they could solve. “We found that they wanted to do something with mobile, something that results in store traffic and retail revenue,” Petersen said. “But they didn’t know how many clicks it took to get a customer, and they can’t get an answer, so they can’t figure out the ROI.”

With Sponsored Locations, the advertiser only pays when the consumer actually walks in the door. Retailers also can choose to make the offer visible only during certain weekday hours if they want, to drive customers during typically slow periods, and they can raise the value higher by using in-store techniques to highlight whatever they most want the incentivized customer to see.

“It’s easy for game developers and publishers to integrate, and we deliver the sponsors,” Petersen said. “The gamers get alerts and maps to show them where things are, and the sponsors know in aggregate how many people arrived and what time they get there.”

Related links:

CloudMade – official site

CloudMade – Sponsored Locations