Do You Know What Time it Is?

Yeeah Booooy!

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.

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