Tag Archive: marketing

Birthdays and Forums

My birthday was yesterday!

I was reminded of such while driving home from a hockey game at 12:04 am by 2K forums. While I was appreciative of the well wishes I did have to chuckle a bit. The last time I posted or visited those forums was in 2008.

We at 2K Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Thank you 2K Forums. I did only sign up there to deal with a game breaking issue for me with Bioshock. Still, it’s the thought that counts! A good opportunity here would have been to say “we haven’t seen you in a long time, maybe some of these posts will interest you?”, or even “here is $10 off one of our games at Steam in celebration!”. A little silly to send me a one-liner during a marketing opportunity.

They weren’t the only ones – thank you Dungeon and Dragons Online!

We at Dungeons & Dragons Online Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Wait.. that looks awfully familiar. Are they sharing boards? Maybe using the same software? Aren’t you free to play now – why not give me a message to entice me to maybe download and try the game out again! Maybe some free currency to get me started! (I did really enjoy it at beta test and launch.) I don’t think I have played since then either.

Not to be outdone, a game that I played more than the others (and have tried to promote on this site often, even though I haven’t played in a while) was the good folks at the Project Reality Forums.

We at Project Reality Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

I don’t remember the last time I posted there either, it has been so long. Although I did re-download the game recently. That message (besides being identical to the other two) could have been so much better with a “check out our latest patch / video / update” message as well.

Finally, I did get one from a board I have checked recently!

Happy Birthday from your friends at Cruisers Forum; we wish you all the best in the year to come.
May your boat be leak free.
May your sails be in good repair.
May the winds be fair, the weather kind and
May your days be filled with the exquisite pleasure of new adventures, fabulous destinations and excellent friendship.

Happy Birthday!

If they were selling anything, I’d probably buy it. Look, a modicum of effort was given. It probably took them 5 minutes to set that up. I have been toying with the idea of buying a sailboat so have been reading a lot there to understand what I would be getting myself into.

If a general interest forum can do that, companies that live or die off of sales probably could too. The constant reminder that for digitally native companies they leave a lot to be desired in terms of customer engagement. These are easy misses, low hanging fruit, and entry level marketing think.

My other takeaway here is how few forums I actually sign up for now (well, since 2008, apparently) since most information is more readily available elsewhere. Also, that a whole slew of other forums didn’t bother to wish me a happy birthday – probably because they sorted that I stopped visiting there at some point. In 2009 when I brought this up I had received birthday wishes from Pirates of the Burning Seas and Warhammer Online as well – but they have a fair excuse for missing it this year (and all years upcoming!)

Missed Marketing Opportunity – Take 2

I had a birthday over the weekend. Actually scaled back working a bit to enjoy it, and what was planned as a nice quiet dinner out with my wife, followed by some quality couch time (with our little one spending the night at Nana’s) turned out to be a full blown surprise party. It was a ton of fun and I have no clue how my wife managed to organize the party without me finding out! Thanks to everyone who attended (both in person, and in spirit).

On my birthday my peripheral email address started pumping out some neat emails. I use an old email address for all my forums and MMO access to keep my other email addresses spam free. I am not sure how new of a thing this is, but I was pleasantly surprised to see several “happy birthday” notices from forums I am a member of. Warhammer Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and the 2K9 forums especially – as they are all people I wasn’t always the “nicest” to – both on the forums and here. Also, I don’t support WAR or POTBS through subscriptions, to be clear.

So it was nice to get the form email from them regardless. Birthday’s get a special emotional response from people. I thought about those emails, and immediately concluded how cool it would have been if they had given me a little present to boot. Hence the title of this post. More after the break.

(more…)

Do You Know What Time it Is?

Yeeah Booooy!

Back
Caught you lookin’ for the same thing
It’s a new thing check out this I bring
Uh Oh the roll below the level
‘Cause I’m livin’ low next to the bass C’mon
Turn up the radio
They claim that I’m a criminal
By now I wonder how
Some people never know
The enemy could be their friend guardian
I’m not a hooligan
I rock the party and
Clear all the madness, I’m not a racist
Preach to teach to all
‘Cause some they never had this
Number one, not born to run
About the gun…
I wasn’t licensed to have one
The minute they see me, fear me
I’m the epitome – a public enemy
Used, abused without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news
Don’t believe the hype…

If you are with me after all that clicking (or just skipped the clicking to begin with) feel better about two things: 1 – I had 3x the number of links planned, and 2 – I am leading up to a point. Eventually. Working on it. Like most suburban middle class teenagers I love(d) rap music growing up. Public Enemy was my group of choice and on the playground with my other priveleged-at-birth friends we would get down with the gospel of one of the world’s most influential rap groups. Pre Flavour Flav sellout dating show, of course. Chuck D cannot be happy about that. I would have sent the S1W’s to take care of Sinceer before she spawned Candwhore – good thing FF took care of that on his own in good time.

MMO’s/PC games are all one big hype machine. Problem with this, among a million related things, that the same hype built up by marketing departments gets pretty much every major release off on the wrong track. Sure, they may result in large release numbers but you could easily argue that those same departments are also the cause of the downfall of the new release – even before the game hits the shelves. Let’s look at that, shall we? And please, don’t believe the hype. Don’t even create the hype to believe in in the first place.

My dream MMO/PC game release is very simple. Make a game. All of the money you would spend hyping it two/three years before release goes towards making the best game possible. That’s right, zero market penetration. When the game is a couple months from release start marketing the hell out of it. At that point to release you actually know the content of your own game and can convey semi-realistic expectations. I say ‘semi-realistic’ because we all know Marketing is still going to make it out to more than it is. The problem with the current Hype Machine is that years before a gamer will get his hands on a game they already have formed an opinion on what that game is, how it will play, and how it would be better if the programmers would make the game the way they would want it. And that is where new games fail.

Marketing a game before you know what features will be included creates expectations. Not regular old expectations but the most dangerous kind – unrealistic ones. All the time, energy, and most importantly, money spent trying to curb those company/consumer created expectations as release nears ends up being wasted expense in the long run. Typical consumer hears about game. Gets excited about it. Follows its development. Posts on boards. Reads dev blogs. Creates unrealistic expectations. Game arrives launch day and consumer is dissappointed (regardless of how good the game really is – because of the marketing cycle that parallelled the development cycle). Plays for a bit. Cancels subscription. Bitter towards the brand.

AoC was a pretty good game. So was Titan Quest. Problem is they couldn’t live up to their own hype. In this fervent market of mass overhype developers are condemning their games to failure before they even launch. Take AoC, remove all the pre-hype, allow the game to launch with lower numbers and build a fan base based on it’s true merits instead of dissapointing 400K of the 800K who bought the game at launch because YOU put it in their heads the game was more than it really was. In the long term the revenues will follow.

Marketing is Public Enemy #1.