I still remember a time when the idea of seeing a video game commercial on TV was just plain silly. I.e., it could never happen. I still remember thinking a full trailer for a game shown in movie theaters couldn't happen, either. But these days, gaming is big business, and commercials and ads are commonplace. The question is, should we worry about over-marketing?

Look, it's great for the industry. More money means more resources and more opportunities to recruit the best artistic and technical talent in the world. There's no doubt we've benefited from the vastly increased popularity and overall sales, as development studios have continued to expand and impress in most every conceivable way. But there is one major difference between then and now: back then, I'd say at least 90% of those who participated in gaming would consider themselves "hardcore." It was a primary hobby. It was geeky, but we got into it. It was like being part of your own underground little club and that "little club" is very, very mainstream now. Recent analyst and publisher estimates say about 80% of the market is "casual" now.

The "casual" market, as we all know, is easily swayed by in-your-face ads and marketing. They're not frequenting game forums and doing a ton of research and chatting with hardcore followers of the industry. Almost by default, the casuals are not exactly arbiters of top-notch quality. It's great that gaming may very well be the only industry left that rewards quality; i.e., the best selling games are often the best received by critics. On the flip side, the worst tripe in the movie, music and book industries seem to top the charts. But how long can this last for video games if the casual market begins to dominate what we want…? They will readily respond to the aforementioned in-your-face advertising and the circle will begin: big advertising for game that isn't so great; casuals respond; game sells great, developers create another "meh" game.

Fortunately, I don't believe the situation is quite so dire just yet. And this is because the developers are gamers themselves. They want to create the best, most memorable product possible. They do care about sales, of course, but so many are so unbelievably dedicated and their #1 priority is quality. So long as game makers remain this way, and overall, consumers continue to reward quality on the whole, everything should be fine. I just worry about the day when the casual market makes everything go topsy-turvy and the masses turn gaming into the other entertainment venues…where chick lit dominates books, the most processed, artificial "music" tops charts, and "Hot Tub Time Machine" is #1 at the box office.

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Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

It's still all good and dandy but there are signs of this corruption.

It all started when Microsoft came in. Activision wanting to take out the fun in gaming. Devs like Ninja Theory thinking that selling 1 million + isn't good enough, etc.

The death of genres really is sad. Jrpgs are history as well as platformers (thank god for Mario Galaxy and Ratchet&Clank).

We'll see, I just hope companies like From Software, Polyphony, Kojima's team, and Team ICO, Naughty Dog, etc. always hold artistic value over everything else.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

That's one of the many reason why i value our exclusive 1st/2nd party studios.

And it's noteworthy that you mentioned From Software first. Although they're more 3rd party, than 2nd or first, the Sony exclusive that they developed, namely Demon's Souls, is an example of a game that received almost zero marketing, and therefore, was not shaped by the demands of the casual mass market.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Shams,
What does From Software being a third party company have to do with quality and genre demands? Sure, Sony seems to be the ones creating the best, most varied products, but they aren't the only company. I'd cite Sega as another company not trying deperately to latch onto the mainstream. Another example is Rockstar, they are only continuing to do what they've always done. Even Square-Enix IMO. Sure, they may be trying to capture the mass market, but they are also TRYING to keep their essence intact (not really succeeding). All in all, I think your comment is a bit short-sighted.
Peace.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

I concur with you Lawless, that the proof is in the pudding, no matter who is the cook.

It's just that in my experience, 1st/2nd party market outputs a higher ratio the of AAA titles to non-AAA ones, than the 3rd party market. It is true that companies like Rockstar are exceptional, but they are also THE exception. And i think this is because 3rd party studios have a greater pressure to make what will sell, first and foremost. Because if their product doesn't sell, they will sink. And in this way, even Rockstar has a greater pressure to continuing doing what they've always done. It's just that they're fortunate that the formula they've always relied on has always sold well.

Publishers like Sony however can afford to take a greater risk in focusing on quality, uniqueness, variety and innovation, because in the long run, that is how they ensure their success, rather than just focusing on the immediate market. That is healthy brandname recognition: When the brand name becomes synonymous with quality, over many product generations, and a product gets attention because of it's quality, rather than a publisher having to simply endorse a product that garners attention simply by embracing the current fad.


Last edited by Shams on 10/1/2010 11:16:54 PM

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

That is certainly true. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo don't really run as much of a risk as software-exclusive developers because they will still get sales from the hardware side of things. Here's another thought: the larger a software publisher becomes, the larger the risk that they will feel comfortable taking as they will maintain the bottom line from their more well-known products. I think R* have proven this with RDRedemption, Agent and L.A. Noire. If any of these productions were to fail, then they would still have the names of GTA and Max Payne to fall back on.

Developers prove quality, and seek to maintain it. This is why I still have high hopes for Enslaved in spite of evidence to the contrary. Publishers seek the money, and do so through the quality of developers. Sony has an excellent team behind them, as does 2K and Sega. They can realistically do as they please, as they can always make back their losses on another product.
Peace.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

ffrulez,
Activision isn't liked because they pushed the hell out of Guitar Hero, to the point that people stopped buying it and seem to be doing the same to CoD. They also produce very few new IPs of high quality. Of course, it doesn't help that their CEO is always making a right [email protected] out of himself through saying things that grind the gears of gamers.
Peace.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Yes. And in this way, R* perhaps resembles much larger corporations such as Sony, Nintendo, and MS.

But i also think this is where Sony and MS diverge. MS, like R*, focuses more on what has sold and what will sell, where as Sony takes greater risks on variety and uniqueness…and dare i say quality.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

So we're supposed to hate Activision because they put out great games on a regular basis? You want to hate Kotick, fine, but the games are awesome and you know it.


Last edited by Alienange on 10/2/2010 10:32:19 AM

Lotusflow3r
Lotusflow3r
10 years ago

That's fine you like em Alien, but to me they're the complete example of the road to corruption. When's Guitar Hero 18 out, again?

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

How does that bother you? GH was and still is a great game enjoyed by many. If it's not your favorite game fine, but why would you hate a company because they make a lot of what you don't happen to prefer?

Clamedeus
Clamedeus
10 years ago

I don't mind a couple of games from Activision but they seriously need to slow down on rapid releases of the same games.

Take a break do something new, the only COD game I'm going to be getting is Black Ops, and that's it for me. I'm starting to grow stale of it, Black Ops's customization looks good from what I've seen of the brand new trailer that came out and that's the only game I'm probably getting from them.

They need to branch out more with genres.


Last edited by Clamedeus on 10/2/2010 2:00:03 PM

sirbob6
sirbob6
10 years ago

I don't mind some advertisements, so long as they don't go over the top, in amount and style, I'm looking at you Microsoft and Activision. However I'd like to see some ads for some really good games like Heavy Rain. There was practically none.

Also if they keep the ads tasteful it helps, so no more live action crap, its cool but doesn't inform you on the game much. Also if they are tasteful and don't blow things out of proportion it won't wrongly swing opinion. So if you keep the commercials nice and informative, and don't advertise obscene amounts it won't hurt the industry.


Last edited by sirbob6 on 10/1/2010 10:01:33 PM

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Good point. Perhaps it is a question of what is getting marketed as opposed to how much. But, of course companies are going to push marketing dollar towards what they know the mass market take notice of. So it pretty much is the same question. However, if profit from the mass market can fund and grow the hardcore market, then all the better.

One example of a game that stood to benefit from huge marketing campaign was Mass Effect 2. It wasn't exactly a twitch-fest like MW2, and was very much a gamer's game, so to speak.

Beamboom
Beamboom
10 years ago

So, you demand that all advertisements are informative? Or do that apply only to game adverts? 😀

What a bunch of crap. Adverts are adverts, period. 95% of them are just noise. Regardless of industry.

Oh – and heavy rain was not a game. It was an interactive movie. They even said so themselves.


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/2/2010 5:50:34 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I agree with most of this except the assertion that the top quality has the top sales. Look, Halo and Gears and MW2 are all decent games but compared to the quality in Uncharted 2, KZ2, and Heavy Rain the sales are all topsy turvy.

At any rate this is the kind of thing that worries me too because mediocre always sells better than top quality in every industry after it has existed a certain amount of time. Story always takes a backseat to flash eventually. Like you say though, as long as devs are gamers too, we should always see some sweet innovative titles.

BUT, due to gaming being a mainstream big business and our club being full of wannabes, we're also flooded with Suits. And the more Bobby Koteck's there are in the world the worse games will get.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

True. At an industry's inception, true talent is sought after. Then there is a point where the industry's market reaches a critical mass, it ceases to be dictated by true talent, and is instead determined by the apparent demands of what will sell…so that the big suits can secure their jobs, and assure their shareholders.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Overmarketing isn't really the problem that is focussed on in the editorial, but rather the expansion of gaming into the mainstream, and this was destined to be a bad thing. The more people that play games means that there is going to be a splintering of the sales. Most of them will follow the mob mentality and go with the best selling product for that very reason. As a result, the more niche titles, or those that are truly dedicated to quality rather than popularity will be forced down the ladder as more devs try to cash in on the hits.

Of course, marketing will play a role, as the more money a company makes, the more they have to spend on marketing in order to popularise their products. It's a tactic that has been seen time and time again. And it's corrosive. Popularity destroys integrity. When integrity falls, so too does quality, but it will continue to be gobbled up by the masses as they are told by their friends that this is the pinnacle of quality. Proof: Look at Avatar. While not a bad film, an incredible amount of hype was built up, and it really disappointed.

Your final point about developers being gamers is a bit of a moot point. I mean, many musicians listen to music, many directors and actors watch films, but this doesn't seem to stop them from pushing out bland trash in most cases. This cycle has already begun. You can see it in the sales figures of CoD and Halo. While these aren't at all bad games, they are popular as a result of hype. The hype builds, and while some don't buy into it, their thoughts migrate as they see and hear their friends enjoying it, and BOOM! They buy it. It's a worry, but as long as someone is keeping the flame of quality and originality alive, I'll remain hopeful.
Peace.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Not necessarily, Lawless. There are a LOT of people in the movie making and music making business who know they're talentless, but also know they can produce junk that will appeal to the masses. Hence, half the horror and sci-fi section in a video store. They don't all set out to make Citizen Kane.

On the other hand, I truly believe most every game developer sets out to make something great that will be well received by critics and well respected by gamers. And I DO believe that's a rare trait in entertainment.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Well, granted, but how many of these trashy B-movie directors do you think set out to make a film that they think is good? Looking through the video store in town, there are some really good concepts in those sections, but they are just done so badly. That's the biggest problem; they are either not creative enough or not rich enough to bring their idea to life in the way it should be.

It seems to be easier for developers to clone the mechanics of another game, and then add in their own story. I think in that respect, it's unfair to compare the two mediums as they are so very different in the way that they are made and concepted.

Eh it's a theory for the future, and one that certainly seems bleak. Let's hope your right, eh?
Peace.

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

That 80% casual versus the original 90% hardcore is precisely why turn-based mechanics are dying.

If you ask me, the casual market and over advertising with BLAM in your face special effects is already stunting artistic growth in some genres.


Last edited by Underdog15 on 10/1/2010 10:50:55 PM

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

You're on the money there. The swing in prevalence of sales is what will kill the old-school.
Peace.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Lol!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Really? We always get ads for life insurance here in Australia. Funny that…

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

I guess if there's a great enough need…

I kid! i kid….

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

Chuck Norris doesn't advertise for FPS's. They bleed from his sweat glands onto the screen.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

I rarely, if ever watch TV, and I think I've seen 2 movies in the theater over the last year. In fact, the last 3 I saw were Clash of the Titans, Avatar and the Hitler-assassination-WW2-Germany one with Tom Cruise.. dang can't remember it's name lol.

So I can't really say. I did see a youTube vid of a Halo Reach ad. It was actually really well produced. It nearly looked like a Hollywood movie.
But in general, I think overly sensationalizing stuff bothers me. I think. I dunno. I sort of liked when Star Wars made a come back and there was Star Wars stuff everywhere.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Valkyrie, Sensei Temjin, i believe is the name of the movie.

I also don't watch TV. Ninjas never disengage, never let their guard down. Haha. It's true.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Ah yes, Valkyrie. Thank you

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

I rarely, if ever watch TV, and I think I've seen 2 movies in the theater over the last year. In fact, the last 3 I saw were Clash of the Titans, Avatar and the Hitler-assassination-WW2-Germany one with Tom Cruise.. dang can't remember it's name lol.

So I can't really say. I did see a youTube vid of a Halo Reach ad. It was actually really well produced. It nearly looked like a Hollywood movie.
But in general, I think overly sensationalizing stuff bothers me. I think. I dunno. I sort of liked when Star Wars made a come back and there was Star Wars stuff everywhere.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

ah, I see. if you hit "submit" twice really fast. You get double posts! How's that for more exposure!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Smart-azz. That's what we call overmarketing Temjin 😛

Mornelithe
Mornelithe
10 years ago

Overmarketing = Big sales on a mediocre IP. Personally, the more adverts you see on TV for it, the more you should question it's quality. This isn't simply to say that everything that's advertised is garbage. But…if you see wall to wall adverts for a particular game, I think the first step is to look it up yourself, and not trust some tool commercial to really give you the lowdown. Basically, don't let marketing make your purchasing decisions.

Simcoe
Simcoe
10 years ago

Well then get ready for the advertising campaign for Kinect! M$ is claiming that the 360 launch will be nothing compared to Kinect.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
10 years ago

Let's all sell our Ps3's.

sirbob6
sirbob6
10 years ago

Wait… What?

Naztycuts
Naztycuts
10 years ago

The thought of the video game equivalent to Justin Bieber is terrifying. Hopefully gaming doesnt wind up like those other mediums where money means more to them than the quality of their product.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Did you just reference Justin Bieber? MATE… NO!

Simcoe
Simcoe
10 years ago

Yikes, could you imagine a whole segment of the gaming industry tailored just to tweenaged girls.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

You haven't seen FarmVille then?

BTNwarrior
BTNwarrior
10 years ago

I personally love a very well done videogame trailer. Like when i first saw the trailer for gears of war i was so blown away with how great the trailer was i went out and bought the game that day. And truth be told i really enjoyed it. The point im trying to say is that i love that people now describe trailers for a game as epic. That people can get more excited when they see a trailer for a videogame than if they see a trailer for a movie.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I always used to get excited when there was a Final Fantasy trailer on TV. Then one came that had an Xbox logo after it and I shuddered.

psxmax
psxmax
10 years ago

The first time I saw the commercial for Final Fantasy 7, I was blown away, because I could not believe my PS1 could do that. I had never played a RPG game before and that commercial changed everything.

Simcoe
Simcoe
10 years ago

FFVII was the first game that I can remember ever being heavily advertised on TV.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Yeah, but that's the problem, isn't it? Hot Tub Time Machine is mindless tripe. Yet everyone loved it, including the critics. At least everyone knows that RE:Afterlife is rubbish and it was never seen as being the second coming.
Peace.

Simcoe
Simcoe
10 years ago

I wouldn't say the critics "loved" HTTM, like Wreckless said it got "favourable" reviews, meaning most critics did not think it sucked.

fluffer nutter
fluffer nutter
10 years ago

I remember a time when there were commercials for the Atari 2600, on TV, multiple times a day.

Marketing is good for the masses because they're sheep. The sheep help pay the bills.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

We should definitely be concerned with under-marketing.

___________
___________
10 years ago

YES!
as ive said a million times the commercialization of games has been the destruction of them this gen!
games use to be seen as a niche form of entertainment so they were not made to make money, they were made for a passion of making games.
obviously they got money out of it, nothing comes free, but the developers really had a passion for games and because of that passion they were all great.
these days 90% of developers could not give a rats a$$ about their games, they could not care less if people love them and nominate them for awards, or if people hate them and call them utter pieces of tripe!
rebellion for example, 2 of their last games rouge warrior and AvP are 2 of the worst games i have ever played!
you think they give a sh*t?
gone are the days where games were made for a passion, now there made for a quick buck and that drags in people who really dont care about games and we end up with antivision, sega, crapcom or $E!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

What's wrong with Sega friend? I think that they are one of the last remaining good publishers. Also, why do I get the feeling from your posts that you're always yelling your head off? You can't deny that the games industry is still better than the movie industry though.
Peace.

___________
___________
10 years ago

it may be better than the movie industry, but thats not exactly a compliment, thats like saying a kick to the stomach is better than a kick to the balls.

sega really have not released one good game this gen!
ps1, ps2, hell even their console days they use to be up there with capcom they use to be the 2 best developers.
these days, o how they have fallen from grace!