Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, December 7, 2009

Whither Adventure Gaming?

Seems to be that time of year for reflection, and a good place to start is where the market is going for adventure gaming. There seems to be some mixed signals. ICV2 reports that third-quarter adventure game sales were good, but certainly if you look at the long-term trends sales just aren't what they used to be for RPG products. The core audience continues to erode in the direction of cheaper, easier entertainment dollar sinks like World of Warcraft. (Cheaper may be arguable, given the monthly cost... but since you don't have to read a 300 page rulebook, I'd say it wins the easier argument.)

Certainly some adventure gaming products continue to perform well, such as Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer, and various collectible miniatures games. There are clearly compelling aspects to the hobby that have not been overtaken by other media.

I see this as a combination of a product development problem and a marketing problem. The marketing problem is a failure to reach a new audience, due to high price points, high complexity, lack of awareness and lack of product availability where the new buyers might be found. The product development problem is similar; products need to be simpler, cheaper, and packaged in such a way that new buyers are easier to obtain. All of this means wrenching changes in business models and game design, which is neither easily achieved nor without risk.

Certainly it's possible to continue making money, as a number of companies do in the adventure game industry. But it's not getting any easier. It would be nice to see some companies with new breakout products expanding the market for everyone. More on this in a future post.

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