No Bad P.R.
Feb 28, 2009 02:17:56

By Julie Whitefeather

"Say what ever you want about me, just spell the name right" - Mae West

The quote above goes to the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity; there is only publicity. There are, of course, exceptions to this adage - just ask people like Christian Bale (who dodged a bullet) and Michael Richards (who forgot to duck). But while there may be no such thing as bad publicity, there is DEFINITELY such a thing as bad marketing. Perhaps this was not always a factor in creating a successful game, but one company changed all that, at least to a large degree...

Blizzard - before we had to put the "Activision" in front of it

Whether you love Activision/Blizzard or hate it, there is one thing that it has done over the years since the creation of World of Warcraft (WoW) and that is to take p.c. gaming out of the closet. The day when someone would have to hide the fact that they play an mmo has indeed gone the way of the dinosaur. People from all cultural, social and economic backgrounds play WoW.

Yes we are living in tough economic times, and many games lose customers simply through attrition. Still others are hemorrhaging customers so fast they have closed their doors for good. None of this is astounding, or unexpected. What DOES astound me is what some developers and publishers choose to do about it (some of the causes I will talk about in my next article). The initial travesty is that there are still professionals in the videogame industry that haven't heard the phrase "make sure the game is polished" enough - and to extend the concept, fix what you have put out on the shelves before you put out more.

Case in point.

While Mythic was losing 450,000 customers at the end of last quarter, they were also busy shoveling more of the same content that HELPED lose 450,000 customers. But new "shinies" don't equal new customers unless the customers happen to be packrats instead of humans. This is reflective of an even deeper problem and that is failure to understand their customers. Now there is no doubt that there is a great desire to do so - in fact I would go so far as to say that they knock themselves out trying. But this isn't going to happen any time soon - not while they are still busy shoving what THEY want out of the game down player's throats. By way of example take a look at what Mark Jacobs himself has constantly told players is the crux, the main point, of the game and that is realm vs. realm (RvR) combat. Yet in the opening months of the game they were still busy trying to entice players out of scenarios and out into open RvR and they continue to do so.

All this goes to a lack of understanding of the difference between marketing and advertising. There is no doubt that Mythic is not just good at advertising - they are FANTASTIC at it. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul Barnett is such a good pitchman that he could make someone look forward to having the plague. But all the advertising in the world, even were polished to a diamond finish, isn't worth a tinker's damn if the devs or producers overlook good marketing. Good marketing, my friends, is all about making your product meet the needs of the customer, and not the other way around.

Think I'm wrong?

The 450,000 customers went somewhere; where did they go? Yes some may be due to the downturn in the economy, and some may be simply players chasing the next latest game. Before you answer the question, however, ask yourselves some of the following questions. If players had to get rid of some of their subscriptions and dump others why did they dump Warhammer Online (WAR)? If players are simply chasing the latest, hottest game what is there about WAR that didn't entice them to stay?

At this point some readers may jump to the same conclusion as some of the listeners to the "No Prisoners, No Mercy" podcast - that I hate Mythic or War or both. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. If I didn't care about the game I wouldn't continue to write about it and podcast about it; instead I would simply ignore it. But I do care, and yes I have been reading Warhammer novels, and playing the tabletop game since long before anyone even considered adding "online" after the name. So until next time...

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Feb 28, 2009 02:17:56 CST (comments: 0)


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