Archive for category marketing
Reports are coming in that the games industry is not quite so recession resistant as previously thought. What we have been witnessing over the last 1-2 years is a nose dive in prices for downloadable games, the near disapearance of PC games from retail stores. And the re-release of lots of back catalog titles.
All of this is a good thing™
Games have been historically expensive, backwards compatability has always been a pain, and only being able to choose from the ‘top 40′ equivilent at your local store was hurting the medium as an art form.
All of this means the game has changed. Dramatically.
As someone with disposable income, there are alot of games out there for me to choose from. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got way too many unplayed games on my shelf with not enough time to play them all.
And now with the low prices seen across the board for digital distribution from the likes of Steam, Big Fish Games, The iPhone App Store, Gamers Gate, Good Old Games, PSN and XBLA – For less than a take-away meal I can buy more than an entire weekends worth of entertainment.
The flip side to this is of course – How sustainable is this model for the developers of games?
The music industry got a shake-up in the early 2000′s and I have a feeling it’s going to be the games industries turn to have to re-think business and the way it turns ideas into products. And unfortunately, unlike the games industry, we can’t earn money by playing live shows. T-Shirts maybe, but live shows? Probably not.
I think we are going to see more small studios, making smaller-budget (and by small-budget, I don’t imply low-quality at all) niche titles. (ie. like the old days.)
And with niche titles, it’s all about the unique selling point.
If I have $10-$20 to spend, and a spare weekend, I need a reason to buy your game and not someone elses.
The irony here is that it’s not price that will be my deciding factor, it will be all the irrational fuzzy aspects of my personality which will lead to me making a purchasing decision – It might be interesting story, art style, maybe promote some message I agree with, invoke my sense of nostalga or capture my interest in some other way.
In any case, your game has to be in some way special.
Developers, indies in particular, have to think what their game stands for – what does it, I dare say – mean?
This really confuses me.
Assuming commodity products, the only differentiator for small businesses is the service(s) they can provide – So why do some places charge extra for a bit of tomato sauce to put on my chips? (Or french fries, or freedom fries or whatever you Americans call chips…) Better yet, why don’t they just straight up offer me sauce? Or at least direct me to the condiments table after I’ve completed my purchase, rather than have me wander about the place looking like a lost sheep?
I think this is a case where the company is too caught up in thinking about themselves and their own worries – it costs money to provide sauce, so we will pass that onto the customer. Instead they should be thinking about the customer – and customers don’t like hidden costs.*
A business should try at every opportunity to turn a customer into a repeat customer, and they will be far more likely to come back if they enjoy the service.
*And if you’re really worried about the cost of sauce just increase the price of chips by a bit – they’re already high margin items in most places, no one will know.
In High School you are told that businesses are involved in two major sectors – The Product Sector and The Service Sector.
If you are in the product sector then you are selling something tangible, such as a book, or a lawnmower or a photocopier. And if you are in the service industry then you are somehow assisting your customer in some non-tangible way. As a radio show, or the corner clerk, or a gardener might.
But there is a problem with this model, it’s not very accurate.
A newspaper is a product, right? But what if it’s delivered to your door? Well, then it’s a service, but you’re still receiving a product aren’t you? And If I shop at my local bookstore then I’m visiting a company that sells products right? But if I go order a coffee at the in-store coffee shop has the company suddenly turned into a service providing industry?
No, of course not. That’s just one part of the overall business structure.
And that’s the key.
There is no such thing as a product sector – All businesses are in the service sector. The service you provide is the means through which you will sell your products. The customer has to be provided with a certain standard of service before they will part with their cold hard cash. In some industries the customer will require a lot of information from the sales people, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the product they are buying, or perhaps they are seeking a rather niche and hard to find item. They will probably want to preview or test out their potential purchase. They will want to know about any warranties, guarantees or return policies. They might ask if there are any alternatives out there. Or they might ask about a product that you don’t have. And where to get it. They will want to know how they can purchase – credit card? Finance? Discount for cash? – All of these are services that need to be provided for.
Companies should forget about selling the customer something and focus on providing a good service. We can make up our own minds if we actually want to buy the damned thing.
And I’d like to do so over coffee please.