Malevolent-Gaming

a sarcastic bas'tad's view on the scene
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PostPosted: Jun 28 2013 4:37 pm 
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For both games and platforms, it's been customary to announce them months and months ahead of launch. What follows are special showings at various expos, occasional screenshot or video dumps from publishers, dev interviews and other random releases of information. It's so common that you probably don't even think about it anymore.

But is that the best pattern? Apple, at least, has changed the norm by announcing and then the product is in stores immediately. Granted, the iPhone is not a strictly or mainly gaming device, and that's how they've gotten away unscathed by gamers, but would that be better for everything?

I know little of marketing, but I would think that managing the trickle of information about an in-development game would be a nightmare. The game isn't finalized, it may not be ready to show, you might show too little, you might show too much, etc. You have to stoke the fire without building it to a blaze.

The months (or years!) you have to wait between hearing about a game and playing it help no one. Giving previews, magazine interviews, etc. made sense when people were not easily digitally reached and were not in constant contact with their friends via social networking.

The pattern of early announcement is so ingrained, though, that you can't buck the trend without gamers feeling confused and possibly jilted. There's a lot of inertia there that can only be overcome with an intentional and well-designed effort.

So what do you think is the optimal distance ahead of launching to talk about a game or a platform? I'm sure some games will be better off with some form of advanced notice, but how advanced and how much notice?


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PostPosted: Jun 29 2013 4:07 am 
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On a personal level, I have to say that I get oversaturated on a game pretty easily due to all of the media put out early. There's not much of a surprise left by the time I'm actually playing it. Life was more exciting when game previews were two postage-stamp sized screenshots and a paragraph of text in a gaming magazine. Now I usually have seen whatever makes the game cool far in advance of an actual release. Sweet graphics, for instance, seem less so when I've seen them in HD preview videos for up to two years prior.

That being said, there's no going back.


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PostPosted: Jun 29 2013 4:44 am 
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I agree that there's no going back to making basically blind decisions, but that does not require a massive lead time before launch. At least, I do not think so.


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PostPosted: Jun 29 2013 1:32 pm 
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Six months seems fair. Like if Half-Life 2 came out in Fall 2003 as originally intended. I remember enjoying that the game seemed mostly done at E3 before anyone even knew it was coming out. It made for a more impressive introduction.

Does game marketing require a massive lead time before launch? No, not at all. But I think we'll continue to see it. Now you have magazines, online gaming sites, youtube, twitter, facebook, pintrest, instagram, etc; the media side of these big companies want to push out as much info as possible to keep those channels full.


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PostPosted: Jun 29 2013 10:00 pm 
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I actually think movies should be made this way. It's annoying when trailers are out a year before the film is ready. Does that really increase ticket sales? Especially when the movie is part of a well-known series, I like it when you see a preview for a movie that you can actually go see in a couple weeks.

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PostPosted: Jul 02 2013 11:27 am 
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There's a lot of study in this area.

The primary thrust behind marketing coming out far in advance is to get evangelists, and to start getting the title to be sticky in the eyes of your consumers.

The first bits of marketing for movies are typically teasers; these serve to mobilize the core audience. They probably already knew about the product, but their first glimpse gets them excited, and gets them talking within their circle and hopefully a bit outside of it. The wider audience now perhaps has heard the name (although they may not remember it at will).

In between that (which may be as far as a year or so out) and the next big step, you'll have periods of going dark (builds up anticipation; or at the very least, it makes the next reveal feel more momentous), and periods where bits of information again flow. Those bits, once more, are targeted to the core. You will likely not find them in general publications or on mass audience channels. Rather, they'll be in specialist areas - a gaming website, a movie fandom website, etc.

As we get closer to the release, we get the wide audience sell. Suddenly, a full trailer (which perhaps reveals too much to a core audience member) appears. News blasts, interviews, etc. show up in more generalized press. What you're really seeing here is the wide attempt to get a name to "stick" in someone's head, along with a generalized impression ("like" "neutral" "dislike").

Right before release, we see the biggest blitz; this is the attempt to land the wide audience on the release date itself, the best chance to monetize. For films, a large release weekend means you will retain screens over the next week or so, giving you a better chance to make a lot of money. For games, you retain shelf space.

I think we often see marketing like this, and as core audience, think it's weird and overdone. To be honest, Joe Blow has probably never read a preview of Grand Theft Auto V. We've read like fifteen. He won't know a thing about it until later this year, when trailers, commercials, billboards etc. start showing up for that final blitz.

I think something like the iPhone is unique. There's a large audience there that wants "The latest thing" - only it's a market with little competition (don't laugh, hear me out). There are people who want an iPhone, and people who just want a smartphone. For the people who want an iPhone, they can announce, release immediately, and capitalize on those sales right away. There's no competition; there's only the iPhone. Games and movies - there's huge competition, and it's rolling along all year, once a week there's new competition. So you've GOT to build up consumer awareness over time. Because when that consumer goes to the store or theater and is presented with five, ten, twenty things that on the surface are all the same (They Are All Games or They Are All Movies), if your title has slowly seeped into their consciousness just a bit, then you get the purchase.

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