First-Person Marketer

First-Person Marketer
So You Got a Bad Game for Christmas

JP Sherman | 10 Jan 2011 18:00
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Unfortunately, you get a game that you'll probably never play and if it's a PC game, worth nothing in trade-in, even if your trade-in company takes PC games. Lastly, even if you return it, you get a piddly $10 back in store credit.

The Underlying Concepts in Getting Bad Games

I'm trying to get grandma off the hook here. She's really not to blame. Marketing as it relates to retail is about balancing risk vs. reward inside the context of consumer pressures. Consumers feel pressure when making a videogame purchase in terms of price, location, availability, and prior knowledge. If the game is at its full retail price, the perception is that because it's a higher price, the risk is much higher. Subjective aspects such as value, design and branding start weighing on their purchase decision. If they know that you really liked Mass Effect, the risk of getting you the next installment is much lower and the $60 price tag isn't as daunting. However, when standing in front of the wall of games with no idea what's "good" or what you like, that same investment seems like it can be too high to hurdle.

Because most videogame marketing is focused on the core gaming audience, most of that marketing is done at the time of launch. During the holiday season, it's primarily up to the retailers to market videogames. While you'll see some peripheral marketing done by game developers and publishers, it's really all about retail. Retailers can only market the items they have with the marketing collateral, media, videos, and images that they've been given. Because retailers have so many other items they need to promote, there's little to no modification of the videogame marketing material. With core gamers expecting games under the tree, the recipients of those games are at a disadvantage. When they buy games for us, people who don't know games are still being targeted by the same marketing messages and media that have been designed for us. With this in mind, the primary pressure retailers have to push them to make a decision is the price. With games having such a low margin, there's very little movement on that.

When you consider that there's little movement on price, DLC is not a primary motivator for videogame gift-giving consideration, and there's so many games being released, it's easy to get confused, overwhelmed, and stressed out. The result of that stress is finding the lowest risk game that can satisfy the primary goal of buying a videogame. Seriously, it's not your grandmother's fault. The pressures that the videogame industry puts on retail, and the fact that retailers have a significant amount of power on the presentation and display, creates a near perfect storm that can befuddle a person with the best of intentions, driving them to purchase the worst possible game for you.

JP Sherman's a professional marketer, which means that he spends his time trying to manipulate you into buying more stuff. When he's not trying to modify your behavior, he writes and does a podcast about video game marketing at Set on Stun.

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