Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's In A Title?

Choosing a title for your game is an important decision. Sometimes you'll just adopt a name that you used during development, and call that a day. But the issue deserves a lot of thought, because the title is a very important marketing tool. Here's three things to think about when choosing a game title.

1) Make It Descriptive. Well, perhaps the title doesn't need to describe the game so much as it needs to point to the essential attributes of the game. Not all titles manage this, of course. But if your title can bring out a key selling point of the game, it will help sell more copies. A game titled "Super Mario Brothers" will sell better than "Run & Jump" even though the gameplay might be the same. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" lets you know what the game is about pretty clearly; you're not expecting a light-hearted puzzle game when you see that title.

2) Make It Memorable. A game title should be easily remembered, so that a fan can tell someone else about it and they'll remember it. Generic titles that are easily confused with other games can be a problem. (For instance, "Modern Warfare" is kind of bland and hard to remember... if it wasn't connected with the best-selling Call of Duty title it would be a difficult one to remember.) Sometimes you give up being descriptive in order to be more memorable... I'll always remember Toejam & Earl as a title even though it doesn't tell you anything about the game. Make sure you're doing a good job of either being descriptive or memorable, if you don't feel you can accomplish both.

3) Make It Trademarkable. This is sometimes forgotten, but it's crucial if you want to avoid legal problems and have the possibility of selling licensed properties in the future. There are some good guides out there to navigating the US Patent and Trademark Office and how to figure out a good trademark. If you're not familiar with trademark law, you should at least get a nodding acquaintance. And a good lawyer if you don't want to bother with learning about it yourself. It beats spending a bundle defending a trademark when you could have chosen something else, if only you'd known better. In case you were wondering, trademark law accounts for why it seems people who name products can't spell common words (like "Starz"); it's because of trademark law.

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