First-Person Marketer

First-Person Marketer
Kinect Is Not For You

J.P. Sherman | 23 Aug 2010 21:00
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In order to market to this new demographic, Microsoft has to market its Kinect differently. There needs to be a good reason and justification to convince the purchaser of its value. It has to promote activity and it needs to feel safe. Microsoft needs to show that there will be a significant amount of good for the entire family in order to shell out real cash in difficult economic times.

In a calculating move, Microsoft assumes, and I would agree, that most gamers who'd consider themselves core gamers already own an Xbox 360. So why wouldn't Microsoft just market to the already sizable user base? Simply put, while the core audience is significant, the new family, casual and social gaming markets that have emerged with force over the past few years show the greatest potential for growth and profit. If Microsoft were to just market the Kinect to its existing player base, it'd be another loss on a population that's already accepted the Wii and is willing to upgrade to something more. In terms of how it's marketed, if the Kinect were geared towards the core gaming audience, it would immediately be seen as one of those things gamers use to shoot each other in the face with. Bluntly, this is the opposite impression Microsoft wants to give their new target audience.

When we see ads for the Kinect, we see children giggling and playing with their pet tiger in Kinectimals. The mother comes in and plays with the kids. We see fitness routines that encourage activity. We see dance games in Kinect's Dance Central that has songs from No Doubt, Poison and others that perfectly target the songs that would resonate with women aged 25 to 40 as well as songs from artists like Lady GaGa that younger players would enjoy. We see family games like Kinect Adventures, which are perfectly geared for social family gaming. From a marketing analysis perspective, this all starts to make sense.

Chris Lewis, Microsoft's VP for Interactive Entertainment in Europe, made a point that Microsoft isn't ignoring the core audience and says that non-casual "hybrid" games geared for the core gamer can be expected in the next 18 months or so. These "hybrid" games are assumed to mean that there will be controller and Kinect integration in these core games. He also dropped that in the UK, sales of the new, redesigned Xbox 360 went up "1,000 percent week-over-week with an 84 percent market share". He's not-so-stealthily hinting that the new messaging and positioning is working.

While we may have felt that Microsoft's been ignoring us core gamers with Kinect's fuzzy and friendly marketing, there's a strong business case for it. Now that the Xbox and Xbox 360 have been with core gamers, since 2001 and 2005 respectively, it's clear that Microsoft wants to see other, casual gamers. I know that we'll find other things to do on our Xbox 360 while Microsoft makes kissy-faces to their new audience before we start getting really upset that Microsoft hasn't delivered on its promise to make some really amazing games for the Kinect that we, the people who call ourselves "gamers," can really obsess over.

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