Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Marketing for dummies

Hey folks,

I really gotta hand it to certain game companies that are beginning to realize that their marketing folks tend to not know what they are doing and are taking their game's marketing into their own hands. I am not saying that all video game company's marketing departments are bad, but who can honestly recall a really good video game ad in the last few years?

Thankfully the game companies noticed this in the last few years and are really getting into different forms of marketing that doesn't deal just with ads on TV. As some may of noticed, we are seeing more and more developer blogs, tons more viral marketing on the net as well as a lot more cool extras the companies are doing for the game like podcasts, fake commercials and even parodies of their own game. This sorts of new marketing concepts are what are really helping sell games now a days I believe.

I honestly believe this is the wave of the future for video game marketing or at least till many marketing departments pull their heads out of their asses and start realizing what they are doing. So far the biggest offender does seem to be the Sony marketing department who honestly market games they have never played or have no idea who they are marketing to. Both Microsoft and Nintendo have been doing pretty decent lately marketing wise with Nintendo doing the more family, wacky commercials and Microsoft going for the more epic feeling commercials that make their games seem like huge masterpieces. Both companies seem to know who they are marketing their games for and are actually making some commercials that make people want to check out their new games.

Sony on the other hand just seems to have hit a rut with their marketing I must say. Ever since the Ratchet and Clank live action commercials from some years ago, I have yet to really hear anyone say "Wow, that Playstation commercial was great!". I mean even the PS3 commercials had people scratching their heads. Melting plastic babies? Exploding rubik cubes? I mean seriously, did they just go down to Soho in New York and pick up some interpretive artists to design their commercials? Even their online ads tend to be very plain and drab and never really catch anyone's eye. Sony really needs to start taking a look at how other companies are doing their marketing and take some notes because they really have a lot to learn. The internet is going to be around for awhile and its where a major amount of gamers go for info so Sony better start to wise up on this fact.

Like I said though, game companies on all sides are realizing they need to take their marketing into their own hands and are hitting the net with all kinds of good content to get gamers talking and spreading the word of mouth. Even lately, there has been a lot of good marketing on the net thanks to game companies doing it their own way including recent huge hits like the Bad Company studio making parody commercials that spoof all the big action military games to Kojima Productions working with the Assassins Creed crew to make a crossover parody commercial that had everyone on the net talking.

I really wish marketing departments would pick up on these trends, especially the Sony folks, and start airing these great ads on TV. And speaking of which, marketing folks really need to learn who their game's fanbase is going to be and put it on TV during appropriate TV shows. If the game you are marketing is aimed for the teen and 20 something crowd, start airing the commercials more often on Adult Swim, late night shows like Conan O'Brian, Comedy Central and geek shows like Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and Chuck to name a few channels and shows that their targets audiences watch. Seeing a God of War add on CNN makes little sense to me. Know your audience, know what they like and then know how to advertise to them. I know I am making it sound simpler then it is, but its just sad seeing so many good games get a crappy marketing treatment.

Thankfully though, more and more studios are indeed taking their marketing to the net and we are getting to see a new age in internet marketing that is actually fun to watch. Hopefully more and more companies will catch on as well as game designers and directors. With that in mind, game designers and directors are also beginning to be thrown into this new age of marketing and are realizing that they can't just let other people market their game for them and must get involved as well. Thanks to developer blogs, podcasts as well as directors/designers getting their faces on the net with interviews and such, more and more gamers are becoming aware of games that are coming out thanks to the designers and directors themselves.

I honestly can not wait to see how all this new marketing turns out and what new content we expect to see from the studios themselves doing marketing this way. Like I said before, this really is the wave of the future for video game marketing and hopefully the major marketing folks who work for the game companies start to catch onto this great new concept. Anyway, sorry for the rant dear reader, it just saddens me as someone who works for the game industry to see so many great games go unplayed due to something so stupid as getting a good marketing treatment.

-P. Knight

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