Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With Great Marketing Power Comes Great Responsibility

Hopefully, it will be Duke Nukem: Never Again.
You can create a terrific marketing campaign for a product that's not so good. Should you? When does your desire to create the best possible image for your product become a liability? I submit that happens when your rhetoric outstrips the quality of the product. Unless you're planning to make a lot of sales quickly and then disappear, you need to be concerned about your long-term sales prospects. If not for the current product, then for the next product. Overselling a product leads to disappointed customers who are less likely to buy the next product you're selling.

All too often we see this happen in game marketing. This article about game marketing has some very good points. Duke Nukem Forever is the latest example of an oversold game, which has rapidly gained a very poor rating among critics. Homefront and Brink are two other titles released this year that also suffered from marketing hyperbole. One fine example is pushing the "story" content of Brink, when that consisted of some simple cut scenes before and after each match. No campaign, no characters, no story... just a series of maps with some cutscenes inbetween. Yet it was marketed on its compelling storyline.

This not only hurts the company publishing the oversold game, it hurts the whole industry. Customers who don't get their $60 worth of value are going to be more difficult to sell a $60 game to the next time. They will be less willing to believe you when you say the game is good. This sort of marketing drives down the price for everybody, and helps push players to free-to-play games and used games and other things that developers don't make money from.

Marketers may think they are doing they best they can by praising a game to the skies, but in this age of rapid dissemination of information a bad game quickly gets exposed as crap no matter what it says on the package or on the web site of the publisher. So your chance of getting a good sell-in before the customers realize the game sucks is not really a viable strategy. Besides, the retailers will just send it all back if it doesn't sell. And every time a customer gets burned by a $60 purchase, you can bet he's going to sell it to GameStop and make sure he checks to see what the reviews say before he drops another $60.

Marketers, do us all a favor and don't puff up a game to be something it's not. Present it in the best light, sure; that's your job. Don't transform it into something it's not. And if you're not a marketer, make sure your marketers get this message. For everybody's sake.

1 comment:

  1. It sucks when a game comes out and it's a massive letdown, and it happens all too frequently recently.

    Most gamers can tell when they are playing a half assed unpolished game, and even if it's got good reviews I still don't feel like investing money in a game that doesn't provide exactly what it publicises.

    The best games are usually kept under wraps until they are released, so people don't get let down when it comes out.