First-Person Marketer

First-Person Marketer
The Phases of Selling You a Videogame

JP Sherman | 8 Nov 2010 17:00
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Influencing Which Game You Purchase: The Consideration Phase
Marketers know that consumers have many options and different pressures influencing their purchase decisions. Considering limited resources, should you get Call of Duty: Black Ops, or is Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood a more attractive option? Or maybe you'd be happier with a new hard drive for your Xbox 360 and one of those insanely sexy Tron themed controllers from PDP. Once a gamer is in the consideration phase, the marketer needs to communicate a lot of information as briefly as possible.

With the relatively uniform pricing of video games, one of the major factors of consideration is almost moot. I've even seen it dozens of times at GameStop; a customer walks in and wants to get a used copy of a newly released game. With the discount only around five measly bucks, over and over, they opt for the new copy. Within platforms and genres, there's very little price competition. The game itself is the primary driver of purchase. At this point, the gamer's been exposed to screenshots, multiple trailers, dev diaries and clever inserts in magazines. The gaming press has tracked the game's progress, gained access to the creators, and there's a mad rush to connect to the consumer in order to influence them.

There's naturally an overlap between the awareness and the consideration phases. Not everyone's as obsessed with the industry as we are... I know that I check about five to ten sites multiple times per day to scan the news, while my Twitter feed is churning bite sized content at me constantly. This overlap in consumer intent is one of the reasons why the media about the game that's pumped out during this phase is about aspects that could drive purchase intent.

An example of this type of intent-based marketing can be found in the marketing cycle of a MMO. It's clear that this genre of game attracts people from the casual to the core gamer. For this reason, the marketing efforts need to convey aspects such as crafting, story, exploration and character customization. Simultaneously, there's a strong competitive community of gamers who play MMOs for the PvP, leader boards and high-end content. In terms of demographics in MMOs, the media and messaging needs to hit the right balance of casual expression and exploration based content as well as competitive high-end content.

For a look at how core gaming structures its media for intent, look at Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's YouTube channel. There's almost 90 videos loaded, from looks at multiplayer to story to dev diaries. Each video strives to communicate value to the right people at the right time of their decision making process.

Click the Button, Swipe the Card: The Acquisition Phase
Once the consumer starts leaning towards a decision, it's time for the marketer to close the deal. The acquisition phase is one last push to the consumer that makes one option stand out from the others. This is the realm of what marketers call the "value add". Sure, you could pre-order a game from either or GameStop, but Amazon will give you $10 off you next game purchase and GameStop will give you an exclusive in-game hat. This phase is not about the game, it's about putting that extra bit of value that makes you jump.

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