Marketing 010101

This is a cheap post. Just linking one of my older posts that wasn’t really ever read. Well, it WAS read, but only by people who were searching for rap lyrics on the internet. I was going through my google search links (always fun) to see what has driven people to the site and this was a big one. For rap. Not for marketing.

So, bringing it back to life because I am especially curious what people think about it who are now reading this blog.

I apologize in advance to anyone who is offended by rap and forced to read it, or for any links that may not be working within the rap context.

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Rap gives me a migraine. That’s merely by existing. It just goes downhill from there.

    I do love the Jack Thompson link. 😉

    Mmmm… Titan Quest. I came to that game just last year, with no marketing hype whatsoever. I got it because it was on sale and I had a gift card. I wound up loving the game, and bought the expansion. Good game=happy customer.

    Other than that… I’ll just agree that hype is a killer. I can’t help but take another swipe at the subscription model, as it demands extraordinary loyalty, presents beta code as release product, and often has business models that only recoup costs after a sizable critical mass of players subscribe for a longer period of time than the hype machine can sustain.

    Marketing is Public Enemy #1

    Yes, this.

  2. Hype is bad for the consumer, good for the publisher.

    Incredibly hyped games such as Halo 3 and GTA4 can never live up to the godly proportions the combination of marketing and word of mouth can lead you to believe. However, they do succeed where the publisher cares most – it sells the game on the all-important Day 1.

    What people think after that only reflects on the developer, the publisher is laughing all the way to the bank.

    I often wonder how much differently a game would be received if it simply had a different unknown name. I disliked GTA4 because I felt a lot of the satirical nature I’d come to love from the series and over-the-top exploits possible were gone in favour of a more serious, darker attitude. However, would I love the game that still does so much right if it wasn’t called GTA? Would I love it if I’d never heard of the GTA series?

    I quite often find myself enjoying games more that I had no prior knowledge of – the ones that pleasantly surprise me by revealing themselves to be hidden gems dug up from where I least expected. Every Extend Extra on PSP and Jet Set Radio Future on Xbox were ones I remember just picking up because I just thought the stuff listed on the back of the box sounded interesting, fully expecting to return in EB’s 7 day trial period.

    So I guess hype helps get the sales out there, but can disappoint the consumer when they finally play it no matter how good it is. It can make a great game seem bad, and a bad game seem worse but sell well so they have the chance to make another bad game (The Getaway series, I’m looking at you). But then a lack of hype can cause gems like Every Extend Extra, Jet Set Radio Future and Psychonauts to fall into the darkest pits of bargain bins, never to see the light of day again in a sequel.

  3. @Ajb: That is the point – that the struggle is less to complete as good of a game as possible, but more to “fool” enough consumers it is worth buying – for the one time cash injection. AoC is a perfect case in point. When you don’t retain 50% of your buyers after the first month something is completely out of whack. While they got a really nice cash injection, how many of those people are going to give FunCom another chance? How many consumers will remember how they were fooled? The sad truth is MORE marketing usually gives consumers amnesia. Fight bad press with more marketing dollars and keep the cash flow incoming. Great thoughts on the title – would be a neat “experiement”.

    @Tesh: I am always setting you up for perfect swipes at the subscription model – like throwing you a big fat tomatoe while you have an aluminum bat in hand. Home run! =) Question is – how do we kill the perceived value a $15 sub gives a game? I mean, they charge the same as WoW so it must be as good! Right? Riiiiight?

  4. Whee, splattered tomato!

    Fighting the perception is indeed difficult. We’ve batted this around before (I don’t remember if it was here, on my blog or on Capn John’s); the perception of the product is often more important than the product itself. That’s just marketing 101 kind of stuff, and a barometer of our cultural stupidity.

    I do think that Guild Wars put a dent in the perception. I’m hoping GW2 hammers it home. Puzzle Pirates finds another chink in the armor, but isn’t quite hitting hard enough (not enough players for the media or brain dead consumers to notice).

    The old argument of “but $15 is less than dinner and a movie therefore WoW is great value” is another demonstration of mental incompetence, but it’s pretty pervasive when consumers justify subscriptions. The marketing wonk that thought that one up deserves plenty of tomatoes.

    There are other options out there, but the consumer has been conditioned to run the habitrail. (Not just in this, either; what about all those McMansions or Hummers?) Cultural change is difficult.

    For MMOs specifically, I look for hope in GW, PP and even Atlantica Online. To some degree, the DIKU RPG model is another problem (which is why I love PP), in that it rewards time spent, creating a fair bit of social and fiscal inertia. We’re going to need new game design models to make a splash in the market as well as new business models.

    I’ll leave you with this link, a commentary from Daniel James, CEO of Puzzle Pirates. He talks of building a good player/dev relationship with free fantastic gameplay, and then letting that tease out the monetization. In that mindset, the best “marketing” is the game itself and the players who spread the word. It’s a refreshing mentality.

    Daniel James at Penny Arcade

  5. Me personally, I never compared a WoW sub to a night out with my wife, or even just a trip to the movies by myself.

    Instead I compared the value of a WoW sub to buying a new PC game, which I did every other month or so before buying WoW (and which it looks like I’ll be doing again now that I’ve cancelled my WoW sub). By coincidence, I just bought Fallout 3 for $50. I enjoyed it, but did I get $50 of value from it? I’ve beaten it already, and I’ll probably play it through again, and there’s still a lot to explore and discover, but I’d need to play F3 for approx. 3 months for it to have comparable value to a WoW sub.

    I think the problem with the replayability of F3 compared to WoW comes not just from being able to realistically have different Toons, but that assigning your F3 SPECIALs differently does not compare to rolling a Dwarf Hunter and a Dwarf Rogue/Warrior. In F3 you have to make a conscious decision to play a Melee fighter, instead of a Shooter. Maybe that means F3 is more of an RPG than WoW, but IMHO I think it just means F3 is an FPS and it’s hard to play an FPS as anything but an FPS. You can have Melee weapons, but only a fool brings a Baseball Bat to a Gun Fight, and that counts for Super Sledges, too, coz by the time you get a Super Sledge, your opponents have LASER guns.

    Man, I keep rewriting this, trying not to compare WoW to F3, rather the price between the two, and I keep coming back to the gameplay differences. But I think maybe that’s my point: You get a lot more game for your dollar with WoW than you do with F3, or just about any other game out there. And whereas I might keep “buying” WoW every month (not that I am any more) in the long run it saves me money paying $15 per month because I’m not spending $50 to buy a new game every other month. Even if you can stretch a new game out for three months, you’re still $5 behind the month-to-month WoW Sub. And chances are that during those three months you’re reading reviews, visiting the gaming store, and you’re probably going to purchase another game, even if you’re still actively playing your current Game Of The Month.

    And with this in mind, I think there’s a lot of (irrational) merit in comparing sub prices to WoW’s $15/m.

    That game is free to play? Can’t be that good if they have to give it away.
    $10 a month? So it’s only 2/3 of WoW? No thanks.
    $15/month? Same price as WoW, huh? Bet I get a lot more in WoW for the same price.
    $18/$20 per month? Are they f**king kidding?! Why would I pay that much when WoW is a better game and costs just $15?

    WoW has not only captured the MMO market, but they’ve set the bar for both expected standards AND accepted pricing.

    Hey! Tesh put HTML in his comment? Can I do that?

  6. *Tesh knows a little HTML coding, and it just turned out that the [a href] tags work here*

    Capn, perhaps WoW needs to be compared to another “sandbox” pseudo RPG, then? I got more than 3 months out of Titan Quest, for example, and I got it on sale. I know of other players who got way more than 3 months out of Diablo 2.

    I also keep coming back to the idea that when I play a game, I’m not done with it in three months. I dabble here and there, with my very casual play time schedule, and can wind up playing several games at a time. Each game can keep me busy for a year or more.

    In the end, if WoW charged me for “time spent in the game” rather than “time that you can access the game”, my argument would be blunted. Titan Quest gave me well over 200 hours of playtime, and if I could get that from WoW for the same price ($40, but $20 on sale), I’d settle for it. If I only got five hours of play in during one month, I’d not be penalized for my priorities being squarely in real life instead of the game.

    The subscription model is not built for casual play time, in other words. (Play style, as we’ve hashed out on my blog, is a different thing. I’m concerned with schedule here, since subs charge for time, not ability or style.) With the market increasingly (intelligently) reaching out to the casual player, there is just a fundamental conflict of interest.

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