Between Awareness and Interest

Superhero Tom Chick swoops down from his Fortress of Solitude to deliver a fantastic top 10 of 2008 list. The list is great for its breadth but the amount of nerd head asplosions that happen in the comments are just sweet sweet icing. What is it about nerds where they (we) need to engage in this incestuous doublethink where only the christened games are allowed to get kudos and if you dare ignore them then you get the scarlet letter?

I added EndWar back to my wishlist after reading that list simply because the game hadn’t been explained to me properly in any of the “mainstream” reviews. I suppose this is more the fact of Ubi’s lack of marketing versus reviewer ineptitude.

As far as I am concerned, the industry does a generally crummy job of marketing. The focus seems to be on maximizing title awareness over converting disinterest into sales. I honestly don’t know what makes Gears 2 different from Gears 1 if anything, but I do know it exists and is a very graphically impressive game. I knew EndWar was a strategy game with voice commands, but beyond that my interest was not piqued, so I didn’t dig farther. Some folks have told me that Tomb Raider: Underworld is a great game. But I haven’t played a Tomb Raider in a very long time. Unless marketing / PR can tell me why it isn’t just another Tomb Raider, I’m not going to bother to look.

Who will bother to look? The people who are already going to buy the game because they are fans. That’s hardly a good marketing spend, is it? Eidos’ marketing did a fine job of letting me know a new Tomb Raider existed, but since I already didn’t care about the franchise, what good did that do them? I of all people know exactly the constraints that one is faced with in a company with limited resources, so I don’t necessarily blame the marketers for not marketing successfully to me exactly. I probably couldn’t have done a better job, but then again, I’m not in marketing.

I’m going to throw it out there and say that PopCap does the best at this. They have a natural advantage since their games are simple to grok, but every time I see an ad or story about them, I always know exactly what is going on in their games. I bought Bookwork Adventures and Peggle without having anticipated their release – those purchases were based simply on good marketing that informed me about the games succinctly and let me know that those were titles I’d like to buy. It worked. My expertise isn’t in marketing, so I can’t tell you why it worked, but only that it did.

Is any other company in the industry particularly good at this?

One thought on “Between Awareness and Interest

  1. Atlus is, kind of. Their games are highly niche but they manage to bring about interest in previously unknown titles–it seems that anyone who has liked an Atlus game has had his interest piqued by a game he wouldn’t have known about, or thought he’d be interested in.

    But very excellent points; I’ve always thought most game marketers out of touch with those who play games, and wish I could get a position doing it.

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