Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding Digital Games

This is what happens when a game loses Facebook communications.
The biggest problem for game makers and gamers today is the same: How do you find good games? At least recognition of this issue is spreading. GameStop's head of digital business seems to be pretty clear on where the problems lie in digital distribution. Here's the money quote:

"One of the key points that can't be underestimated is the increasing challenge of discovery. If you start off with presumptions on the percentage of consoles that are connected, are they as high as everybody would want them to be? No. The percentage of people that have purchased for their console games downloadable content for XBLA or PSN games is very low. It's barely above ten per cent,” reports Petrovic as saying. "Discovery, much like in the Apple App Store, is as bad - if not worse - in the console environment because you've got such a limited form factor to work with."

Amen to that, brother. If you are annoyed at the iTunes store for its poor interface and weak search tools and almost non-existent help in finding apps you care about, you will become apoplectic when you look at the Android market or the console's lame excuse for a digital product marketplace.

Unfortunately, though GameStop would like to do something about this problem, they haven't mentioned exactly what they can do to help thousands of games find their way to gamers who would like them.  As a marketer I can come up with strategies to help an individual game break out of the sea of similar titles. But how you can do that for everything in the sea? Yet I see some companies making vague promises about ways to get your app in the top 100... of course, you have to pay them a big pile of money first. I guess that's right after you take care of that little bank transfer your new Nigerian friend wants you to help with.

Oprah can take an unknown novel and propel it to the top of the bestseller list... but she can't do that for every good novel, because if she promoted a thousand books the impact would be far less. A blanket solution to promoting all games is inherently flawed. I think the only logical solution for all games is for the service provider to do a better job, with a better interface design and better tools. I suppose Apple's gaming network is a step in this direction.

It's also possible a third-party like GameStop could step in and create something that would help customers find games they like. Or something already popular could help with this... Facebook continues to be the key factor in social media games and their popularity. (Notice how Monthly Average Users took a hit when Facebook started making it a little harder to get a zillion updates posted to your friends.) Check out here what happened to one social game company's users when Facebook cut off its communication channels. You can probably guess... the word "plummet" comes to mind.

It does come back ultimately to making sure you have a great game. Going viral is really only possible when that's true; you can throw all the marketing you like at it, but unless the quality's there in the first place you won't achieve orbit. Honestly, I'm glad we have gone behind the days of "We can sell dog crap in a box!". Now you have to have a good game... and then your marketing better not be the equivalent of dog crap if you want to get the most sales out of that game.

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