This week, we are considering marketing and the marketing of computer games. We will also take a look at how marketers use computer games. In your final project you are required to come up with an innovative marketing approach for your game proposal. The following notes will help you to think about different approaches to game marketing. To read the notes, click the link below, Game Marketing.
(copied and pasted from the link)
This week’s topic deals with marketing and the marketing of computer games. We will also take a look at how marketers uses computer games to sell other products.
Introduction to Marketing
Marketing needs to be embraced as a ‘whole of business’ approach, rather than just a set of strategies and tasks undertaken by a marketing department.
An organisation with no customers has nothing but costs . Marketing covers a wide range of concepts and tools that are designed to build and maintain an organisation’s customers. According to American marketing guru, Phillip Kotler, “Marketing is a relevant discipline for all organisations insofar as all organisations can be said to have customers and products”(Kotler and Levy, 1969, quoted in Hill et el, 2003).
But what is marketing?
Marketing creates the opportunity for communication and ultimately is about influencing behaviour. Historically, marketing has shifted its orientation from the product to the consumer:
Product Orientation: Initially, businesses had a product orientation whereby the market would buy their products because they were good. The customer was expected to find the product by their own efforts. Certainly, quality is still important for marketing success. However, as more companies began to produce similar, high quality products, they realised the importance of singing the praises of their products. Hence the development of sales-led businesses and the development of sales techniques to sell products.
Customer Orientation: Soon the focus moved to the customer. If a company could anticipate a customer’s needs, then they could develop products to fulfill those needs. Ideally, this would lead to the customer choosing that company’s product over all other alternatives. If a company continues to fulfill the customers needs, the customer will continue to buy that company’s products. The customer will develop a relationship with, and loyalty to, the brand. For this process to occur, it is vital that the company stays in touch with its customer base. This process of marketing never finishes. Organisations need to continually assess and develop their approach to customers for each party’s long-term benefit. (Hill et al, 2003).
How is marketing carried out? Strategically please!
Marketers need to maintain a customer-orientated mindset. By being aware and knowledgeable about customer needs and behaviours, they can create a marketing program that will fulfill those needs. The main objective is to stimulate demand for the product – whether the product is an object, place, idea or service. A strategic approach is required. While a plan doesn’t guarantee success, it certainly reduces the risk of failure.
The Strategic Marketing Planning Process
Before beginning to plan, we need to be armed with information. Information is provided by research, and by the analysis of that research. This information can be then used strategically to plan marketing activities that will have the desired effect upon the target group, which may be a group of consumers or a group of other organizations, such as government bodies, investors, publishers, the media etc. Once completed, we can assess the outcomes of these marketing activities. This is the basis of the strategic marketing planning process or SMPP:
Stage 1 – Analysis and Research
Initially we need to consider the internal and external factors of the current situation. Internal factors might include assessments of the company, its size, resources, budgets, staffing numbers, and its current product range. Then we need to look at external factors such as new technologies, trends, policies, the competition, and social factors.
Stage 2 – Strategy Development and the Marketing Mix
The second stage of the SMPP is to set goals and objectives. These might be organisational objectives or they may relate to specific products or brands. You may have heard of the concept of the marketing mix, or the four P’s of marketing. They are the four elements addressed by a traditional marketing strategy:
All products offered for sale by an organization, whether they are objects or services. These include product features, packaging and performance characteristics.
The value consumers place on and are willing to pay for the product
The real and virtual places where the organisation distributes their products, and where the consumer purchases them, including any intermediary channels (such as order processing points, transport and warehousing).
All communication techniques used to notify consumers of the product and its benefits, and persuade them to buy it.
The original four elements of the marketing mix have been extended, due to the advent of the service industry. The service industry is a recent phenomenon that sees western economies moving from a large manufacturing base to a services base. Services often have characteristics that are unique when compared to a physical product. Hence they require three additional elements in the marketing strategy:
The employees delivering the service: a financial planner; customer service personnel at a hotel or rental agency; board members of a company or art gallery; the game designer; the celebrity actor whose voice features in a game; or the others players participating in a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).
This element addresses the ‘tangible’ element of the service product. When there are no ‘tangible’ goods – for instance the experience of an online game – then other cues are necessary for the consumer to make decisions about the ‘quality’ of the product. In the context of games, this covers the look and feel of the promotional and other support materials, to the website that games are purchased from.
This concerns the process required to make and deliver the service. Imagine if you purchase your game online only to find your credit card has been wrongly charged! Alternately, you are seeking technical support or you’ve been promised online capability and it doesn’t deliver!
Savvy marketers are able to develop and utilise a full mix of strategies under the above banners to massage the consumer into making a purchase. Obviously, marketers have developed a vast and complex range of strategies and tools within the marketing mix framework that we won’t go into here. For more information on the basics of marketing, refer to any marketing textbook. As mentioned earlier, Phillip Kotler is one the best-known authors in this area, and you will find him quoted in almost every marketing book.
Games fit into this service category, offering not only a physical product but also a service product (the game experience). Services have grown in areas such as communications, tourism, retail, personal services, business services etc and we are now moving towards information and knowledge based activities such as biotechnology and health – a new information economy.
Services have four key characteristics which other physical products lack:
Intangibility (can’t be held or kept)
Simultaneity (of production and consumption)
Heterogeneity (or variability, due to different people providing and receiving the service)
Perishability (can’t be stored)
Services are difficult for customers to evaluate and need to be considered across three dimensions:
search qualities: a customer can assess these prior to purchase, eg. promotional material, brand recognition, word of mouth, price etc
experience qualities: a customer can only discern these during consumption, eg. courtesy, efficiency, convenience, reliability, communication, comfort, sensory experience, ease of use etc.
credence qualities: it is hard for a customer to evaluate these, even after purchase and consumption of the service. Customers often don’t have the expertise to evaluate the performance outcomes of services such as surgery, car repairs, investment advice, consultancy reports etc.
We can’t go any further without considering branding which is enormously important in the context of games. Branding is today considered the cornerstone of marketing and is a very complex symbol for a company and its products.
Publishers want you to buy their games – games marketing is clearly about stimulating demand and purchases. We have a hard product to market here, for which demand is generated using a range of strategies that we are all familiar with – launches, advertising, point-of sale materials, teasers, publicity, reviews etc.
But games companies want you to not only spend your money, but also your time and creative energy. Games offer an experience, which is comprised of various ‘service’ style characteristics. As we know, developers devote an enormous amount of time and resources to designing and testing games, incorporating different qualities via look, feel, complexity and ‘playability’ so that the ‘service’ aspects of game playing are packaged via the game.
Models for games delivery are also expanding. We are seeing the emergence and take up of online subscription-based games services, a growing revenue source, competing against other delivery systems, such as computer, consoles and hand-held devices.
It is vitally important to games companies that they maintain and grow their market share across platforms and a key strategy to do this is via branding.
By building brands – of their games, their game platforms, their company – organisations encourage consumers to feel safe in their purchase choice, to buy and play their products over and over again.
Let’s look at the theory of branding.
A good brand name should be:
it stands out from the competition
it is meaningful and appealing to target markets
it will remain on the customer’s agenda and thereby, prompt repurchase
it will allow the brand to be leveraged across other services including future products.
Companies value brands by the level of brand equity they generate. In Kotler, Ang et al (2003), brands are described this way: ‘Think of branding as a spectrum. From brands that are unknown to ones that have some degree of brand awareness, to brand acceptability. It then moves to those that generate brand preference and finally, the ultimate goal, brand loyalty.’ (p.423)
Customer attitudes can be also be mapped from no brand loyalty to that where the customer is completely devoted to the brand and associated products are a must have, despite costing much more than a competitor’s. (p.423, Kotler, Ang et al, 2003)
Having a high brand equity also gives a company greater competitive advantage. Companies have greater leverage with distributors and retailers (customers expect their product to be available), can charge more (because of perceived quality), and can launch new products more easily because of high credibility. It also greatly reduces their risk via providing some defence against price competition. (Kotler, Ang et al, 2003, p. 424)
When brands unite – through mutually beneficial business partnerships or via takeovers, this also greatly increases the brand leverage powers and value to those companies via market share, allowing them to reach new markets.
Relating this to Games
Now let’s consider all this marketing theory against some gaming industry documents. We’ve selected a range of contexts to explore marketing and games. Read each of the following topics and come up with some marketing ideas for your own game proposal (Major Project: Game Proposal), due at the end of semester.
Marketing Campaigns – Big $
We know from earlier topics that gaming is a huge industry and that publishers spend up big when launching new products. What do they spend it on?
Here is an outline of how Halo 3 was marketed in 2007:
$10M marketing blitz, 10,000-store launch for Halo 3 (Thorsen 2007).
Innovative Marketing using Games
The article Games with a Day Job by Patrick Gardner (2001) maps out the use of games for marketing purposes and then specifically looks at an Ericsson’s ‘Ground Zero’ campaign – designed to show off their mobile positioning technology.
Forty Two Entertainment is a leading ‘immersive’ marketing company. They describe themselves as “the storytellers who pioneer new forms of cross-platform narratives and build powerful online communities, to create highly participatory experiences for our audiences”. They present three case studies on their website that detail games specifically developed to promote products:
The Beast, created to promote Spielberg’s movie A.I. (2001).
I Love Bees, created to promote XBox’s game Halo2 (2004).
MSN Found created to promote MSN’s search engine.
This is where advertisements are placed within games, which is a hot topic. Read through Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh’s Gamasutra article, Advertising in Games West Conference(2005) to get a picture of the key issues.
There is also Mathew Kumar’s story available on the Gamasutra website, ICE 08: Can Advergaming Spur Creativity? (2008).
Inter-industry marketing: Developers to Publishers
Marketing is not just used to sell games product to consumers. Developers need to generate their own marketing campaigns to publishers to generate funding, win new tenders and so on.
We are seeing many games being made that are based on existing intellectual property (IP), often from film and television (Harry Potter, Star Wars etc) and cartoons (X-Men, Spiderman etc) and vice versa (Lara Croft and Tomb Raider) where they are already known brands with high acceptability. How can smaller developers create their own IP, which has the possibility to generate considerable revenue for themselves?
An interesting case is that of Australian developer, Tantalus and their product, Anaka. They made a short film to showcase the IP to potential publishers via film festivals and TV. A TV series is another possibility spin-off and if the character gains market interest via these alternative presentations then Tantalus may well generate funding to develop Anaka into a game.
Read the article from The Age, Paradise Lost by Jason Hill (2005). You can explore Anaka on the Tantalus website.
Independent Games Development – can they compete?
Finally, how does an independent developer, without the vast resources of the big publishers, market their own games? There is a lot of material written on this issue, but here is an article with information about marketing approaches:
Soapbox: The Rise of the Auteur & the Return of Indie Development (Pfeifer 2005)
There are many facets to consider in relation to marketing and gaming. In this topic, we’ve attempted to give you an understanding of core marketing concepts and their development and point you towards articles which can give you a sense of how marketing can be applied and is applied in the games industry.
Deakin University, 2003. MMM793; MMK792 Study Guides, Deakin University, Burwood.
‘Eye on the Independent Game Company: Midnight Synergy by Circe’, Womengamers.com. Last viewed June 2007. Available from: http://www.womengamers.com/articles/midnight.php
‘Forty Two Entertainment’, 42entertainment.com. Last viewed June 2007. Available online: http://42entertainment.com/
Gardner, P, 2001. ‘Games with a Day Job: Putting the Power of Games to Work’. Gamasutra.com. Last viewed June 2007. Available online: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010601/gardner_01.htm
Grand Theft Auto, ASC Games, 1997, video game (PC, PlayStation, GBC)
Halo 2, Microsoft Game Studios, 2004, video game (Xbox, Microsoft Windows Vista, and Xbox 360)
Halo 3, Microsoft Game Studios, 2007, video game (Xbox 360)
Hill, J 2005. ‘Paradise Lost’, The Age Online. Last viewed February 2009. Available online http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/05/09/1115584883789.html
Hill, L, O’Sullivan, C, and O’Sullivan, T, 2003. Creative Arts Marketing. 2nd edition, reprinted 2004, Elsevier Butterworth-Heineman, Oxford.
Kotler, P, Andreason, A, 2003. Strategic Marketing for Non-profits, 6th edn, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
Kotler, P, Ang, SH, Leong, SM, Tan, CT, 2003. Marketing Management: An Asian Perspective. 3rd edition, Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, Singapore.
Kumar, 2008. ‘ICE 08: Can Advergaming Spur Creativity?’, Gamasutra.com. Last viewed February 2009. Available online: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=18068
Spielberg, S 2001. A.I. Warner Bros.
Lovelock, L, Patterson, P, Walker, R, 2004. Services Marketing: An Asia Pacific and Australian Perspective. Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest.
Meredith, JR & Mantel, SJ, 1995. Project Management: A Managerial Approach. John Wiley & Sons, USA.
Pfeifer, B 2005. ‘Soapbox: The Rise of the Auteur & the Return of Indie Development’, Gamasutra.com. Last viewed June 2007. Available online: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050721/pfeifer_01.shtml
Rentschler, R (ed) 1999. Innovative Arts Marketing. Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards.
The Sims, Electronic Arts, 2000, video game (Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X)
Thorsen, T 2007. ‘$10M marketing blitz, 10,000-store launch for Halo 3’, Gamespot.com. Last viewed February 2009. Available online: http://au.gamespot.com/news/6178582.html
Tomb Raider, 1996, Eidos Interactive, video game (PlayStation, Sega Saturn, MS-DOS and Macintosh)
Waugh, E-J R, 2005. ‘Advertising in Games West Conference’, Gamasutra.com. Last viewed June 2007. Available online: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050801/waugh_01.shtml
The final project involves pitching an idea for a computer game in the form of a written proposal. You may find these Gamasutra articles useful as you consider how to write your proposal:(http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2911/the_game_proposal_part_one_the_.php) for extra resources.
Your proposal will be a partial one, detailing the idea of the game, but not the detailed production plan (team members, budget, schedule, design document and demo etc.) found in an full proposal. These pages are also relevant for this task:
The Game Proposal, Part Two: The Content:
these are all found on the next pages on this link: (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2911/the_game_proposal_part_one_the_.php) (just click on page 2,3,4 on the right hand side)
CRITERIA AND WHAT TO DO: INSTRUCTIONS IN DETAILS
Your final and most challenging project is to write a proposal for an original videogame:
Copy and paste the Major Project Template into your text editor. The template contains an itemised and detailed outline of what is required for this proposal. Use this template as a guide to structuring and developing your proposal.
Ensure you have read the Major Project Notes for Writing a Game Proposal.
Ensure you have read the three Major Project Examples.
Imagine that you have been asked by a large games publisher to pitch an idea for a console, PC or mobile game in the form of a written proposal. Your game can be about anything you like – but it needs to be exciting, innovative and marketable. It can be action, adventure, role-playing, first person shooter, problem-solving game or any other kind of game.
Publishers often prefer to ‘play it safe’ with new projects, choosing to develop derivative games or movie adaptations. However, this project must be based entirely on your own intellectual property (that is, your own ideas and concepts). Read this article if you want to know more about Intellectual Property and videogames. If you choose to write this proposal based on your work for exercise 4, you must further improve and refine that material. It is not acceptable to merely reproduce your story and game from exercise 4.
Your proposal document needs to be convincing and well-researched. Your research should support your proposal and may include sales data, surveys, polls, interviews with industry leaders, reviews, books, news articles, innovative marketing approaches and research about your target market.
You are also encouraged to use visual means to help communicate your ideas. This could include sketches, maps, screen grabs from other games, flowcharts, movie stills, comic art, paintings, and drawings – anything that will help a reader ‘get it’. Finally, your proposal should sell your game concept in a concise and easy-to-read manner.
You need to correctly reference every web page, book, journal article, magazine article, videogame, and movie that you mention in your proposal. Remember to include explanatory captions and references for all images. The referencing style for this class is Harvard – please refer to the Online Study FAQS for more information.
RMIT electronic submission of work for assessment
When submitting all work for this assessment you need to read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the Assessment declaration.
File must be less than 20 MB
Files must have at least 20 words of text
The maximum paper length is 400 pages
File types allowed: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, PostScript, PDF, HTML, RTF, OpenOffice (ODT), Hangul (HWP), Google Docs, and plain text
This project is worth 50% and is assessed using the following criteria:
Submission and Format (1)
Your paper is 3000+ words, with a suggested length of 4000. (1)
(See “Can I exceed the word count?” in the Online Study FAQS for more information)
Creative and Analytical Ability (28)
Your game overview is exciting, distinctive and marketable (4)
Your game offers a dramatic plot/premise, a rich world and engaging characters/agents (4)
Your game offers a variety of appealing and challenging activities (4)
Your competitive analysis effectively conveys the unique selling points of your game (4)
Your marketing approach is inventive and creative (4)
You have presented a convincing argument for investing in your game (4)
Your game concept demonstrates innovation and originality (4)
Communication Skills (Work Practices) (17)
Your game proposal is well researched (5)
You have used images to help convey your game concept (5)
Your proposal is designed to assist readability (i.e. text is formatted consistently and appropriately) (1)
You have written your paper in a convincing, clear and concise manner (3)
You have carefully edited your paper to avoid errors of English expression and spelling errors (3)
Academic Referencing (Work Practices) (4)
You have provided numbered, descriptive captions for all your images (1)
You have provided in-text citations for all references, in the Harvard format (1)
You have provided a list of references, in the Harvard format (2)
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