Abyssal Pixels: Marketing Is Ruining Everything
The act of marketing. Sell your product to as many people as possible to potentially get the biggest return on investment as possible. That’s what the overpriced university handbooks would tell you anyway. It doesn’t matter if your product is fairly shit, you will dress that thing up in the finest silk to impress a bunch of gullible halfwits just to get a little cash in. That’s why you see marketing campaigns for tampons that feature blushing girls dancing in the streets with hunky boys for a product that basically sucks blood out of an orifice. That crude example aside, that’s how marketing works. It’s an ancient art and it’s here to stay.
Then we get to the cesspit that is games marketing. Oh my word, here we have doozy. Possibly worse than the whole tampon thing. The ways in which games are marketed these days is absolutely repugnant. There’s a whole lot of evidence for why I say so, but here’s the short of it: it’s not working, it’s crippling the industry and it misleads consumers. Marketing may be an integral part of selling a product, but the way it is handled recently in the gaming industry just upsets and infuriates me.
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I have a particular case study that I want to bring to your attention. And that’s the marketing of Homefront. Remember Homefront? That run-of-the-mill generic shooter that nobody really cared about? Well, that game was marketed to ying-yang and back. I’m talking sides of buses, branded headphones, entire cosplay demonstrations, mass print marketing, campaigns, competitions, merchandise, tours and on the list goes. What did we get in the end? A brown shooter that might as well have never existed. It got poor critical reception and the sales for that game weren’t that spectacular. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure a few hundred thousand at least was spent on the marketing for the game and that can have a huge impact on the success of a game.
The now infamous Square Enix has been notoriously fucking up the budgets for their games and I don’t think marketing played too small of a part. The alarming amount of money spent on their games is probably not just development cost, but a big portion has to do with the over-extensive marketing they do. Because of this jump in budget, they must now sell more units. 5 million units isn’t enough? I don’t think development costs were the cause of this, by a long shot.
Then you get the morally bankrupt ways of marketing. Or as I like to call it, the Alien: Colonial Marines method. Colonial Marines was a sham in terms of its trailers and marketing with misleading “gameplay footage” and promises that weren’t honoured. It’s evil, that’s what it is, but it’s all to make people pre-order the game before they realise it’s a complete fuck up. Watch_Dogs recently got in trouble for the same thing where they originally used a PC build on Ultra for their initial trailer and then revealing that console graphics weren’t in the same league. That’s pure misleading marketing right there. Something that should be illegal in my opinion.
At this moment, the big companies are doing massive extravagant marketing pushes because of the high budget of some of their games, but in the process of doing that they are screwing themselves in the poo pipe. Huge marketing budgets means more units should be sold which then means the game needs to get a good reception and resonate among the gaming community. Something that’s very tricky to pull off and often does not, making everything redundant and then the game makes a loss.
I’m not a marketing student and I don’t claim to know exactly what is happening, but the way I currently see it, marketing is slowly starting to ruin the balance of the industry. I might be talking out of my ass and it’s not so bad as I make it out to be, but something is at fault if I look at the current state of the industry.