Video Game Marketing Advice, Criticisms

"Showcase actual gameplay footage" is one of the core pieces of advice in a free new report by marketing agency Blitz criticising the overall current state of video games marketing and laying out its own approach to wooing the modern savvy gamer.

'Pulling the trigger to purchase' is built around a survey conducted by reputable market research firm Mintel of "avid gamers"--defined as those who play video games on consoles or handhelds for at least seven hours per week--with 1,000 respondents.

The survey paints a picture of what influences gamers' purchases, including the statistic that 55% of respondents considered "it's part of a series I already play" to be "one of the most important factors"--a higher percentage than anything else--while playing demos came second with a surprisingly low 47% seeing it as one of the most important.

Respondents also generally considered pals more influential than "experts." "Talking to friends" was rated as very important by 46%, as was "friends play it," while "expert reviews" were seen as such by only 23% and 32% even saw them as "not useful at all."

Even "online peer reviews" trumped the experts, with 30% rating them "one of the most important factors" and 52% a "useful factor." However, the distinction between friends' opinions and online peer reviews grow increasingly blurred as more and more people take an active role in online communities, such as our very own dear Shacknews.

It's no surprise that playable demos and "actual gameplay videos" are rated most influential among "online activities related to video games" but it is somewhat unexpected that only 55% and 47%, respectively, see them as one of the most important.

Trailers are received somewhat less fondly, rated one of the most important by 37%, useful by 57% and useless by 6%.

Blitz summarises its impressions of avid gamers and current marketing thusly:

  • Avid gamers are heavily immersed within the digital/online space but disregard the majority of staid advertising methods that are thrown at them.
  • Avid gamers rely on peer recommendations and their friends for advice, yet social media remains underutilized and inefective in its current form
  • Avid gamers have their interest peaked by commercials, yet they fail to show all-important gameplay footage
  • Avid gamers fnd [sic] game Web sites a strong point of interest, yet marketers are reluctant to invest in sites that fully integrate functionality that is of interest to our audience, including social commentary, peer reviews, gameplay footage, online demos, etc.

Blitz is critical of such standard marketing fare as behind-the-scenes trailers, podcasts and wallpapers, saying they "are eschewed by avid gamers," but the criticisms seem a little misguided considering it plays up the importance of peer influence and encourages developers to "get your audience addicted to the game." The mere fact that 19% saw downloads of "wallpapers, screensavers, etc" as one of the most important influencing online activities and 56% found them at least useful indicates that the relatively small effort--and budget--of such offerings can go a considerable way towards strengthening certain portions of a game's online fanbase.

Of course, it should go without saying that Blitz has a vested interest in encouraging people to come around to their way of thinking. The company's work in video games is largely online has included sites community portals with social networking integration and viral marketing. None the less, Minitel is considered reliable and many of Blitz's conclusions ring true.

Update: Per Blitz's request, the link in the first paragraph now leads to the company's official registration, which is required to acquire the free report.

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