Videogame Marketing Success

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Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stark » 2011-08-03 07:04pm

In the DEHR thread, it's mentioned that DEHR's marketing isn't as successful as it could be. There isn't a great deal of infomration around, and what there is is heavily skewed towards vague stuff like cutscenes and designer intentions. The end result is it's a game that might not be reaching its full audience, because most of the 'buzz' seems to be focused on (or even generated by) existing customers (DE fans).

Last night, a few of us were talking about Gears 3 marketing. Obviously, we're already customers; we've already bought it and probably would have with zero marketing. However, Epic have cooked up a multi-stage marketing campaign that's been running for nearly a year now. They heavily use videos, which are generally focused on what they identify as the selling points of the game rather than technical or design issues. They've kept the message changing often enough to keep attention (both buyers, and the news websites) by timing updates and newly released information. They've managed to show primarily in-game footage (rather than cutscenes) without ruining the plot - or even giving away any plot events beyond the first five minutes. Their studio is faced by a team of guys who have charisma and know their product, rather than the general game developer. In short, it's a long-term, information-packed and successful marketing campaign, which will maximise the reach of their game.

So what are other examples of success or failure in marketing? Some games get nearly no marketing at all, despite being pretty good, and fail. Others get heaps of marketing, despite being complete rubbish, and succeed. Some publishers do a Square and release some videos and forget about it; others keep up an ever-changing barrage of slick content to hook customers. In the modern game industry, marketing can be absolutely critical but can also lead to self deception (as with high-profile failures like Homefront), and it can show a publisher's attitude toward their products and teams.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Flagg » 2011-08-03 07:27pm

I'm noticing a ton of online marketing for TOR, and there isn't even a release date publicly announced.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stark » 2011-08-03 07:31pm

What sort of marketing, though? Heaps of not-announced games get half-animated popups on google ads, but that's just basic 'we exist' marketing.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Mr Bean » 2011-08-03 07:56pm

Stark wrote:What sort of marketing, though? Heaps of not-announced games get half-animated popups on google ads, but that's just basic 'we exist' marketing.

Thing is Stark the number of companies that do their own marketing can be counted on one hand. Either they have it subcontracted out to their Publisher (IE an Activison or an EA title and uses their marketing departments) and are therefor bound by how much the Publisher cares VS how much they care. Or they hire a contractor to come in and do marketing for them. The number of game studios not under Activision/EA who have their own marketing department are next to non-existent. Even established players who are not part of the big two (IE Valve) are just companies who existed long enough and are smart enough to establish relationships with a marketing firm and have done it enough times to make sure the marketing firm knows what tone to set and what to hype rather than simply saying "Hey Marketing Firm X, here's a hundred thousand dollars, it's our marketing budget, don't spend it all in one place"

Unlike other media products marketing for video games is almost never done in house, and then only if your owned by a bigger player like EA.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stark » 2011-08-03 08:04pm

Different publishers clearly have different approaches to marketing; you just have to compare Square to THQ to see that. Who does the marketing is totally irrelevant to how successful it is (beyond the idea that farming it without giving a shit probably gets poor results).

Valve is a good example though; they have extensive, high quality marketing that focuses on anything except gameplay. Their approach is probably the extreme in the 'sizzle not steak' direction, and it clearly works for them.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Mr Bean » 2011-08-03 08:30pm

Stark wrote:Different publishers clearly have different approaches to marketing; you just have to compare Square to THQ to see that. Who does the marketing is totally irrelevant to how successful it is (beyond the idea that farming it without giving a shit probably gets poor results).

Marketing firms have different ideas as well how to advertise products, nothing is done in a vacuum, when you sit down with a firm and describe your product (A standard step) in an ideal world you should be telling them what your product's high points are, which they should then turn into selling points. Taking those selling points then should (Again ideal world) figure out how best to sell it to the product. For example a billboard campaign on highways makes no godamn sense to promote a song or new artists. But a subway add with a smart phone code built in so your bored and captive audience can hear the song makes a whole lot more sense and when you price things out the subway add will be cheaper and up faster than the billboard campaign. Random marketing example I know but I'm building to a point here stick with me.

Marketing firms just like any other business learn how to do something well or deliberately specialize in a thing then do it over and over again, thus THQ's advertising is because those they work with try to sell everything like it's a WWE game or everything like it's their latest Disney title and all of their products get funneled into those two framing devices.

Stark wrote:Valve is a good example though; they have extensive, high quality marketing that focuses on anything except gameplay. Their approach is probably the extreme in the 'sizzle not steak' direction, and it clearly works for them.

Again video games have to steal ideas from Toy Marketing because some percentage (I've heard everything from a third to two thirds) of video game sales are bought by people who won't be using the product but are buying it for others.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Sarevok » 2011-08-03 08:34pm

Everygame has marketing, even ones made by basement developers. It is rare to see a game that does not have any effort devoted to marketing.

Thing is ads are not the only form of marketing. Infact even amongst big companies it is debated how effective they really are.Videogame marketing is a long process that is more of an art than a science. Generally the industry rule is that you begin your marketing campaign before development even begins. A successful game is MADE with marketing with minds. It focuses on a specific group of buyers. The most important tools of the marketeer are the gaming press and word of mouth. They will do anything to grab the attention of both.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Sarevok » 2011-08-03 08:38pm

Again video games have to steal ideas from Toy Marketing because some percentage (I've heard everything from a third to two thirds) of video game sales are bought by people who won't be using the product but are buying it for others.



You can't really make a statement like that without considering a specific type of game. In general game companies target the players, not their parents, siblings or spouses. It holds true even for makers of casual games. The reason you see so much non gameplay content is to create hype. In this industry hype is something people try their hardest to artificially engineer. They even have charts...
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Flagg » 2011-08-03 09:31pm

Stark wrote:What sort of marketing, though? Heaps of not-announced games get half-animated popups on google ads, but that's just basic 'we exist' marketing.


Like bold, "YOU CAN BE A JEDI PLAY TOR!" marketing that takes up half a page.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stark » 2011-08-03 09:51pm

Sarevok wrote:Everygame has marketing, even ones made by basement developers. It is rare to see a game that does not have any effort devoted to marketing.

Thing is ads are not the only form of marketing. Infact even amongst big companies it is debated how effective they really are.Videogame marketing is a long process that is more of an art than a science. Generally the industry rule is that you begin your marketing campaign before development even begins. A successful game is MADE with marketing with minds. It focuses on a specific group of buyers. The most important tools of the marketeer are the gaming press and word of mouth. They will do anything to grab the attention of both.


Playing the marketing press (as distinct from simply bribing them) is certainly very important; it seems important to maintain a steady stream of 'news releases' and 'preview videos' and other content, simply to stay on the front page of gaming websites. Even zero-content garbage like 'we asked the developers what they thought of their game - ps they thought it was good' will get the name of your game out there to stay in people's minds. This is one of the things Epic has done really well with Gears, particularly considering their sizeable captive audience who were going to buy it anyway.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Havok » 2011-08-04 12:23am

Another Gears marketing thingy, which I just saw, is them having Paul Jr. from American Choppers make a Gears of War bike, and then have it winnable in a contest at Best Buy.

Now I don't know if what kind of marketing boys they have, but the cross over reach of THAT is pretty fucking significant.

"Hey what about bikers?"
"Huh?"
"Yeah, guys that like things made out of metal that make lots of noise and are totally badass. Lets market to them."
"Bikers don't play videogames."
"They will when they see how awesome our game is."

I mean, yeah, bikers probably don't play videogames. However, in about a third of the country, maybe more, there is a real offseason for bikers due to snow and really shitty rain. What if they all bought Xboxes and Gears when they couldn't ride? So you get American Choppers to build a Gears bike. They talk about how cool the game is, all the themes, the chainsaw gun, etc., Pauly builds a pretty cool chopper based on the game. The show is going to rerun a million times. It may not generate a huge amount of interest in the game, but it games the name even further out there in the public consciousness and at least opens up the potential of a new market. Smart marketing in my book. Something I don't remember seeing from other companies.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Flagg » 2011-08-04 12:24am

Paul Jr built a Gearz bike, and I can win it? Why have I not heard of this until now? And Hav, you can't own it right, cause of your secret society only allowing Harleys, so if you win can I have it?
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Flagg » 2011-08-04 12:39am

Here's the link to the sweepstakes. Americans only, though.

Best Buy Gears of War 3 Sweepstakes
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Havok » 2011-08-04 04:25am

My secret society allows for any American "made" motorcycle. In fact, I can own anything. I can just only wear my cut when riding an 'Merkun bike.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Flagg » 2011-08-04 04:28am

Havok wrote:My secret society allows for any American "made" motorcycle. In fact, I can own anything. I can just only wear my cut when riding an 'Merkun bike.


Sweet. I always thought they were Harley only.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby 2000AD » 2011-08-04 05:46am

No discussion on failure in marketing is complete without mentioning Daiktana and the infamous "John Romero is about to make you his bitch!" advert. How that ever got the green light is beond me (the advert, not the game, though it could appy to both I suppose).
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby weemadando » 2011-08-04 06:05am

If you can't understand how that ad existed then you never lived in the nineties.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stofsk » 2011-08-04 06:14am

I never saw it. Should I count myself lucky???
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby weemadando » 2011-08-04 06:23am

Classic print ad.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stormin » 2011-08-04 07:16am

Havok wrote:Another Gears marketing thingy, which I just saw, is them having Paul Jr. from American Choppers make a Gears of War bike, and then have it winnable in a contest at Best Buy.

Now I don't know if what kind of marketing boys they have, but the cross over reach of THAT is pretty fucking significant.

"Hey what about bikers?"
"Huh?"
"Yeah, guys that like things made out of metal that make lots of noise and are totally badass. Lets market to them."
"Bikers don't play videogames."
"They will when they see how awesome our game is."

I mean, yeah, bikers probably don't play videogames. However, in about a third of the country, maybe more, there is a real offseason for bikers due to snow and really shitty rain. What if they all bought Xboxes and Gears when they couldn't ride? So you get American Choppers to build a Gears bike. They talk about how cool the game is, all the themes, the chainsaw gun, etc., Pauly builds a pretty cool chopper based on the game. The show is going to rerun a million times. It may not generate a huge amount of interest in the game, but it games the name even further out there in the public consciousness and at least opens up the potential of a new market. Smart marketing in my book. Something I don't remember seeing from other companies.



Probably less advertising to bikers and more towards people who sit in front of their TV watching shows about people building bikes. After it is won, that bike is going to be found in an abandoned storage locker and sold at a pawn shop.


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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Stormin » 2011-08-04 07:39am

Stark wrote:PROTIP - bikers may be people who sit in front of their TV watching shows about people building bikes. :lol:



If they were a major demographic then the show would be more about the bikes and less about the drama and being bitchy at each other.

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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby CaptHawkeye » 2011-08-04 04:09pm

On the subject of marketing failures, Alpha Protocol, Chrome Hounds are two examples that jump into mind. SEGA is a company that has consistently failed on the even the most basic levels of marketing. The only products they ever talk about are Total War and Sonic. TW presumably because they're aware of the unbelievably poor craftsmanship on CA's part, which entails a need to force the game. Sonic strikes me as little more than corporate nostalgia, SEGA still markets every new Sonic game like the Genesis is still around.

Meanwhile AP's devs said somewhere that since AP wasn't just like Splinter Cell SEGA was very apprehensive of it and did little to generate interest in it.
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Chardok » 2011-08-04 09:13pm

I think the Homefront marketers were geniuses. that game sold over a million, and that's nothing to sneeze at. I suspect they knew that game was a pile and decided that they'd sunk so much money into it that they'd have to make us think we should all own it. Ergo - successful game. (if terrible)


I think a great example of a game 'winning' despite lack of marketing is Arkham Asylum. I never heard or saw anything about AA before it came out except on podcasts, and I remember on more than one occaision hearing a previewer say something like "This game is so good, it's so awesome, and I'm so afraid no one will play it, and it will just sit on shelves and die and never get a sequel".
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Re: Videogame Marketing Success

Postby Havok » 2011-08-04 09:15pm

Stormin wrote:
Stark wrote:PROTIP - bikers may be people who sit in front of their TV watching shows about people building bikes. :lol:



If they were a major demographic then the show would be more about the bikes and less about the drama and being bitchy at each other.

Is that why everyone I know watches it?

I hear bikers don't watch Sons of Anarchy either because it has drama. :roll:
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