The Phases of Selling You a Videogame

The Phases of Selling You a Videogame

How marketers find you, get you, and keep you.

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Interesting read, which pretty much re-affirms a lot of what I knew.

I will say that I think video game marketing is going to have to evolve quite a bit though because while things have not reached a breaking point I think a lot of people are becoming increasingly disenchanted with DLC the way it's priced and handled now, and I've noticed increasing numbers of people like me who have lukewarm receptions to any game news that doesn't come with hard information about the gameplay itself. I don't think developers are going to be able to keep their cards close to their chest and release fancy FMV movies that have little to do with the actual playable content all that much longer due to the number of people who have been burned when it turned out that the devs were keeping things so quiet because the game was basically a mess and they new it.

Hmmm... I'm not convinced. Maybe I'm one of those people who say "hey! Hey! I'm not a sheep like everyone else!" even though I am, but I'd like to think my purchase is based solely off a game's quality, not because the marketing got to me. Sure, I keep one eye on the previews and the trailers and the Facebook page; but I also keep one eye on Metacritic...

Excuse me, but the marketers DON'T keep me. The quality of the product and my subjective experience with it are responsible for that, if it happens.

Cover your eyes if you are Greek averse, because now is when I whip out the Socrates:

Socrates:
I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private.

So, you can market all you want, promise all you want, and plan on retention all you want, but a crap game is a crap game (*cough*Age of Conan*cough* *cough*Warhammer Online*cough*), and all the marketing in the work isn't going to close the loop if you don't provide something close to what you created in the players mind. Do you seriously put marketing above, say, Ken Levine's brilliant writing in determining the success of a game? I'm pretty sure marketers themselves, when you catch them being honest, which, seriously, is only after a bar tab the likes of which very few humans who don't OWN bars have ever seen, will tell you that they can't do anything sustainable or closed loop like you describe without, gasp, something that someone actually wants behind it all.

So, interesting piece on what marketers tell themselves is vital to the industry. But, having come up in the age where you just HEARD about good games and you occasionally took one for the team, and marketing was certainly present then too (search YouTube for Atari and I'll see you when you stop laughing your ass off, or look at the back of any mid-80's comic book), and they could only close the loop on quality stuff.

P.S.
There was no (real) Bruce Lee II. WTF, marketers?

P.P.S.
Bonus points if you know what software company used that quote from Socrates as their motto.

I liked the third stage. The retention one. Makes us look like cattle being farmed for meat money. Which a lot of people are. The cynic in me loves this. Thank you for writing this article, more people should be aware of what they have become.

Marketing is nothing to me lol. I decide to buy a game based off 2 things. Story and Gameplay. So expensive campaigns saying its good do nothing for me.

Well GameStop sure have MY number. The only reason I buy from them is all the bonus goodies. I like the tangible stuff the best, but when they throw in free DLC for pre-orders, why the hell not? It is, as this article says, the greatest gain for the least put in.

Not so sure about retention, though. That might be aimed at people 'in the industry' who can then spread new information to us normal gamers. Because I sure don't visit the websites of developers looking for new games.

I see a game ad campaign on tv maybe two or three times a year. Honestly, do you think that's going to affect my decision making process? Beyond that your marketing doesn't seem to touch me, since I hear about games on this website or reading my favorite gaming magazine. And the magazine is the number one contributor to shaping my purchasing decisions.

Guess this whole aggressive marketing scheme is for Americans, because I have never seen it.

Andy of Comix Inc:
Hmmm... I'm not convinced. Maybe I'm one of those people who say "hey! Hey! I'm not a sheep like everyone else!" even though I am, but I'd like to think my purchase is based solely off a game's quality, not because the marketing got to me. Sure, I keep one eye on the previews and the trailers and the Facebook page; but I also keep one eye on Metacritic...

A few months ago I would've went and added to the count, for now I won't.

And yea, generally, I agree with you. I let my friends be the marketers. If they get a game and rave about it, i'll rent it. If its nice, i'll buy it used.

Telperion:
I see a game ad campaign on tv maybe two or three times a year. Honestly, do you think that's going to affect my decision making process? Beyond that your marketing doesn't seem to touch me, since I hear about games on this website or reading my favorite gaming magazine. And the magazine is the number one contributor to shaping my purchasing decisions.

Guess this whole aggressive marketing scheme is for Americans, because I have never seen it.

I'm American, rarely see that sort of aggressive marketing. Youtube Generally will inform me, and publishers advertise a good deal on there.

Just saying it. I love these artiles with the same fervor that I hate marketing (in general).

It's really quite strange.

Why do articles by this dude always get the least responses? This is some good stuff here. SCARY stuff, but good nonetheless. Maybe there's my answer...

In my humble opinion, the purchasers of DLC are total morons. This goes double for people who buy day 1 DLC that is already on the damn game disk.

But a fool and his(or his parent's) money are soon parted.

No they don't. :)

Not with regards to games anyway. With most other products however, they do. Daaaaaamn.

I don't see much marketing for games on television. Then again, I don't watch much television. I get my information for games online.

Telperion:
I see a game ad campaign on tv maybe two or three times a year. Honestly, do you think that's going to affect my decision making process? Beyond that your marketing doesn't seem to touch me, since I hear about games on this website or reading my favorite gaming magazine. And the magazine is the number one contributor to shaping my purchasing decisions.

Guess this whole aggressive marketing scheme is for Americans, because I have never seen it.

Part of a marketing strategy is reliance on gaming websites, youtube videos, and yes even your favorite gaming magazine. It's not just the press events or TV commercials. I don't think marketer's care how customers hear about the games, so long as they hear. I guess that's more of a second-hand marketing, but I'm sure they're aware of its impact.

3nimac:
I liked the third stage. The retention one. Makes us look like cattle being farmed for meat money. Which a lot of people are. The cynic in me loves this. Thank you for writing this article, more people should be aware of what they have become.

A marketer is hired to bring in customers and increase sales. It's their job and they pay for food and shelter with it. It's our job to be conscious of our purchase habits. I'd agree that a paradigm shift away from the overbearing corporation/consumer dichotomy would be helpful, but we don't need to imagine marketers as shadowy mind-controllers. Or may be we do? Damn, now I really don't know...

Andy of Comix Inc:
Hmmm... I'm not convinced. Maybe I'm one of those people who say "hey! Hey! I'm not a sheep like everyone else!" even though I am, but I'd like to think my purchase is based solely off a game's quality, not because the marketing got to me. Sure, I keep one eye on the previews and the trailers and the Facebook page; but I also keep one eye on Metacritic...

So do I, however without marketing you couldn't make an informed decision on the game's quality. Weather its trailers, screenshots or previews its all marketing and all about giving the customer as much info as possible so he/she will decides yay towards buying the game/product. The marketing thats a problem is when its not about what the product is about, its about trying to make it look 'cool', like Apple does with its ipods etc adds, it looks stupid and turns me away faster then faulty hardware.

The "Mad World" advertisement was actually for the first Gears of War, not Gears of War 2. Gears of War 2 had the "Last Day" advertisement which had the song "How It Ends" by DeVotchka. Your error is annoying to me. >.<

3nimac:
Why do articles by this dude always get the least responses? This is some good stuff here. SCARY stuff, but good nonetheless. Maybe there's my answer...

Personally, I don't reply often because of two reasons:
1.) There's really no revealing of the man behind the curtain here. What's posted is generally common sense and, I would think, common knowledge. It's sort of like writing a column about the fact that oranges are orange.
2.) There's little actual discussion value outside of perhaps semi-feigned shock that this is what marketers do for a living.

StriderShinryu:

3nimac:
Why do articles by this dude always get the least responses? This is some good stuff here. SCARY stuff, but good nonetheless. Maybe there's my answer...

Personally, I don't reply often because of two reasons:
1.) There's really no revealing of the man behind the curtain here. What's posted is generally common sense and, I would think, common knowledge. It's sort of like writing a column about the fact that oranges are orange.
2.) There's little actual discussion value outside of perhaps semi-feigned shock that this is what marketers do for a living.

2.) As opposed to the discussion value of "Hulk Hogan flashes his junk to the camera"... But about 1. i generally agree, there is no revealing of the man, but i think that this isn't something most people think about because they are used to advertising being passive, an ad on TV, a printed flyer etc, but nowadays someone is actively working to make you not just a customer but a tool at their disposal and i would think that something like that would provoke a response.

3nimac:

StriderShinryu:

3nimac:
Why do articles by this dude always get the least responses? This is some good stuff here. SCARY stuff, but good nonetheless. Maybe there's my answer...

Personally, I don't reply often because of two reasons:
1.) There's really no revealing of the man behind the curtain here. What's posted is generally common sense and, I would think, common knowledge. It's sort of like writing a column about the fact that oranges are orange.
2.) There's little actual discussion value outside of perhaps semi-feigned shock that this is what marketers do for a living.

2.) As opposed to the discussion value of "Hulk Hogan flashes his junk to the camera"... But about 1. i generally agree, there is no revealing of the man, but i think that this isn't something most people think about because they are used to advertising being passive, an ad on TV, a printed flyer etc, but nowadays someone is actively working to make you not just a customer but a tool at their disposal and i would think that something like that would provoke a response.

I find most actual editorial content on the Escapist to be worthy of at least some discussion. Sure the "news" stories aren't exactly all winners, and forum posts are.. well, forum posts, but the editorial stuff is often not only good but seems written with an eye towards spawning discourse.

As for advertising being passive, I don't think that's ever been the case. Even ads on TV, fliers, etc. have been targeted for a long time. Maybe the local pizza joint just hands out whatever they can to whoever they can, but I'd bet that even they spend at least a few minutes thinking about the ad layout, their target market, etc. The fact that media used to advertise (and, really, what media isn't?) reaches so deeply into everyone's lives these days is somewhat new but marketers have been using everything they could to get people to buy products every since there were products to sell. That seller in the open air marketplace in Turkey a thousand years ago was working the exact same angles that marketers do now, he just had less direct reach.

"gamers are savvy, skeptical and observant."

lol

Almost the perfect thing to say to manipulate people. You really are a marketer. Nice one.

SaintWaldo:

So, you can market all you want, promise all you want, and plan on retention all you want, but a crap game is a crap game (*cough*Age of Conan*cough* *cough*Warhammer Online*cough*), and all the marketing in the work isn't going to close the loop if you don't provide something close to what you created in the players mind. Do you seriously put marketing above, say, Ken Levine's brilliant writing in determining the success of a game? I'm pretty sure marketers themselves, when you catch them being honest, which, seriously, is only after a bar tab the likes of which very few humans who don't OWN bars have ever seen, will tell you that they can't do anything sustainable or closed loop like you describe without, gasp, something that someone actually wants behind it all.

Actually that's one of the first things you learn from marketing and advertising study books: marketing and added values cannot make up for lack of functional performance, in this case, content that buyer wants.

3nimac:
Why do articles by this dude always get the least responses? This is some good stuff here. SCARY stuff, but good nonetheless.

Yeah, it's interesting to learn how a videogame marketing person does his job. I tend to disagree with some theories and practices he writes about but usually there's not much to comment on without going into opinion-laden debates about psychology and ethics of marketing.

I follow these columns with interest each week, and I think it does provide some insight, although obviously, like Penn and Teller, a magician cannot reveal all their secrets and remain in a job :)

However, my burning marketing question this week would be...

Who decided that the escapist would be a great place to advertise 'Fred - the movie'?

The escapist, at least my view of it, is somewhere where internet trends and popular fads are treated, at best, with derision and cynicism. I just can't see the average escapist thinking 'Oh great, a Fred movie - his face doesn't annoy me at all!'

Of course I don't blame the escapist for displaying it, I'm sure there's a stupidly large budget behind it, and it'll do really well at box office, however, I do wonder why the marketers would choose to push it to us, as I don't see us as a target market.

If it was'nt for the fact that Moviebob covered it, I'd expect something like Four Lions to have a great return on advertising dollar spent here, but then all the conspiracy theorists would be shouting about bribes to Bob.

 

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