Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

$25 Million Marketing Budget... A Sign of The Apocalypse?

Valve is expecting big things for Left 4 Dead 2; after selling 3 million copies of the first game (Xbox 360 and PC), they're planning on dropping 25 large for marketing the sequel. Where's it going? According to their marketing veep (as referenced here), the campaign "will include Monday Night Football and UFC television broadcasts, roadside billboards, and popular lifestyle and gaming sites."

Hey, great for them... but maybe bad for other titles. This continues the escalation of marketing budgets. It's getting harder and harder to make the numbers for the biggest titles. The industry saw six straight months of sales declines this year, with September finally ticking up 1%... this after major price cuts on all the consoles. Madden has underperformed this year. It looks like sales declines might be here to stay, so of course the natural first response is to increase marketing budgets. This will make it even harder for big titles to make their numbers, unless they raise their budgets too. Or do some smarter marketing.

But I think the problem may be even more serious. This could be a major shift in the market's expectations for pricing and value and content of game titles. I don't think marketing alone will save the day, nor product development. Some rethinking of business models is going to be essential.

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