Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, March 7, 2011

GDC 2011: Reviewing Marketing Efforts

The new THQ logo...seems vaguely wrong, but not as wrong as their handouts.
Part of my trade show post-mortem process is to sort through all of the marketing materials I collect, and analyze them for effectiveness. Sometimes I get useful ideas on presentation, or find new tchotchkes that are cool, or new ways of presenting information. As I go through my collection, I thought it would be useful and interesting to my readers to share my analysis.

Cubic. I picked up some info from Cubic, a company developing military simulations. They were in the Career Pavilion, looking for programmers. What attracted me was a picture: A Humvee surrounded by screens. So I gathered flyers... the one that caught my eye was an Engagement Skills Trainer, which is basically a Humvee on jacks surrounded by screens, with all sorts of sensors.You can implement all sorts of additional sensors to deal with a variety of training. I'm sure it's expensive, but cheaper than field operations with less chance of getting hurt. Their flyers were high-quality, heavy stock printing. The most interesting piece was the size of a business card... it was two die-cut cards with a folded flyer glued in between them. It looked like a thick business card, but you can pick it up and pull it open to see the 4-color information double-sided, and easily push it closed again. An interesting and different way to present information portably.

Shanda Games. As a contrast to the presentation of Handseeing  Information Technology, Shanda Games has a reasonably professional booklet (though I'm still not sure what "2,300 Full time stuffs" means). I guess for a company that took in $680 million in 2010, they can afford to drop a bundle on a 4-booth display. While they are looking for staff (full time stuffs?), I think the primary purpose of their booth is to look for strategic partnerships. How do I know this? It's stated in their handout. It's good practice to make sure your marketing materials are utterly clear on exactly what it is you want. Don't assume everyone knows you and why you are at a show and what you are trying to do.

hi5. This is a social network focussed on entertainment and gaming, and they say they're a top 20 web site globally with 50 million monthly visitors. They're eager to sign up game developers to create games for their portal, and they share ad revenues with you, help get your game noticed, and provide monetization services as well (for those all-important in-game purchases). That's all good... and they had a table at GDC where they were promoting some of their developer initiatives. Here's where I see a problem: They call their program for increasing user acquisition SocioPath. I'm sure someone thought that was very clever and memorable (sure, I'm blogging about it, look, publicity!). Edgy, yes, but when you're promoting games targeted at a youth market, might there be some people who would find this offensive?

Vitraya. This one's not ready for primetime, but I think it has potential. Essentially, they are creating a location-aware networking application for smartphones. So if, say, you want to connect with a savvy marketing guy at a conference you're attending, you can plug that into your app and you'll see exactly where he is at the show (assuming he's authorized such tracking), and then can message him or I guess just navigate to where he is. (Hmm, might be awkward if someone ends up standing outside your stall asking if they can talk to you...) It's still under construction, but I'll be keeping an eye on it. It's not game-industry specific, of course, but will be useful for anyone who does the trade-show thing.

THQ. Here's a big company that takes out a booth in the Career Pavilion looking for programmers and artists... and what's the handout? A really poor photocopy with a misaligned world map on one side (with their funky new logo) and a grainy spreadsheet on the other side with little Xs showing which positions are needed in which cities. You're THQ and you can't afford a good-quality copy? Or even a tiny bit of prep work to print (or quick-print) a 4-color handout? Send somebody out to Kinko's before the Expo opens to get a far better quality printout? The marketing message here is "Come work for us, we're really chintzy, unprofessional and unprepared!" I guess it makes sense that one of their open reqs is for a Director of Marketing North America. Hope they find someone who can help with their trade show efforts.

More reviews tomorrow...

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