Call it the ultimate multi-task for any Millennial: order a pizza and play a video game – essentially at the same time.
On Tuesday, Pizza Hut and Xbox Live maker Microsoft will announce plans to introduce a game-changing ordering app that allows gamers to purchase physical goods – in this case, anything on the Pizza Hut menu – right from the gaming counsel.
Just pause the game, and order.
For Pizza Hut, it’s about reaching out to its hard-to-reach target – young men 18 to 24 – where they live and play. For Microsoft, it’s a nifty way of cosmically expanding the virtual world into something far closer to the real world. And for consumers, well, we’ll just have to wait and see how folks respond.
One expert thinks it could be huge.
“The very last thing a kid wants to do is look for a phone to order a pizza,” says John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace, a cloud technology provider. Now, he says, “the Xbox is no longer just a place to just play games. ”
Even cooler: the free app isn’t limited to operating via game controllers. It also can operate via Xbox Kinect hand motions and even voice commands.
“For the first time, people can order something through their Xbox that’s tangible,” says Kurt Kane, chief marketing office at Pizza Hut. “It brings the intersection of gaming and real world products together.”
Through May 6, folks who order via their downloadable app will receive a 15% discount.
For Pizza Hut, the growth in digital ordering has exploded since 1994, when it was first sold online. Currently, 25% of all orders are digital, says Kane. Within five years, he projects, it will be 50%.
Today’s families, says Kane, “gather around their gaming consoles as much as they gather around their dinner tables.”
Digital ordering can save consumers time — by eliminating the need for a phone call. And it can save retailers money — by reducing the need to staff the phones. Digital orders also tend to increase order accuracy.
There is some irony. Gamers often turn to food, like pizza, to amass the energy to keep playing. Now, they won’t even have to exert much extra energy to get the grub.
Microsoft worked months on developing the app, says Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox Advertising. The move, he says, will “further transform what can be done through the gaming industry.”
And maybe more.
“What they’re doing is bringing more commerce to the Xbox platform,” says Engates. “That’s pretty cool. You’re meeting your customer right where they are.”
At the corner of pizza and play.