Okay, I’m going to try something a little different and this is going to be hella informal. Have you ever seen something that makes you question what the people in the marketing department are doing? I mean really question what they are doing. Not necessarily weird or disastrous (Dead Island Riptide collector’s edition I’m glaring right at you) but things that make you think that they just didn’t go far enough. Well, I’m going to share some thoughts on a few of these marketing ideas and what my take on them. You know, because this is the internet and we totally don’t have enough opinions on here.
First a little background; I am interested in advertising, particularly the psychological side of it. You know how you’ve been informed that certain colors trigger parts of the brain to feel different things and that’s how it will drive you to want something. Kind of like how yellow and red are colors that often induces hunger or increases appetite, things like this. If I were to fully get into this field then I would be doing more of things like this and bringing my ideas to the table. Though I would probably end up looking at a lot of statistics (goodie) and working with ways to improve the effectiveness of this technique. Sounds kinda boring but it is actually an interesting field. How does this tie in to my original subject? Well, marketing is a force that pushes places and people to purchase things and in gaming, that can make or break your franchise.
This in a sense is the story of Disney Infinity, the little toys that we thought could but eventually couldn’t. The news of Infinity being ended and Avalanche studios being closed came as a slight shock to many. Of course many of the dissenters took up issue with the interactive toy market as a whole but then again this is the internet, where there is an opinion to be had, someone is going to have it. But what was strange to me is that just last year even, market analysts were thinking that Disney Infinity had long, quite long, term plans for the franchise and the possibility of Infinity 4.0 was plausible. The interactive section of Disney seemed like it was a shoe-in to improve the entirety of the business and they saw a upward trend of 11% in 2015 (http://goo.gl/Wsb649). Now this sounds great but what prompted the closure of this division? I can only speculate Disney decided to pull the plug on the operation out of fear that the Toys to Life bubble was going to pop. It is a fair worry but strange considering how well they did last year (http://goo.gl/BDsD7M), we are in an ever changing market and the it was becoming somewhat crowded with Amiibos and Lego Dimensions.
A directional change with more of an emphasis on original Disney properties could have continued making this profitable. And making more of the other loved properties could have been a move in the right direction. We are in an era that nostalgia is big and the 90s refuse to go anywhere, so for the hypothetical 4.0, introduce characters from the cartoons of the 90s. Darkwing Duck, Ducktails, Gargoyles, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, the list goes on but this could have been massively popular and also using some of the other film properties they had not reached yet. Princess and the Frog, Treasure Island, and (personal favorite) Atlantis. Reintroducing these characters to an new generation and to groups that may have missed them the first time around. Do some mock ups and test to see how they were received. Not to mention that with this idea of 4.0 have the creators make hooks for adaptive DLC in the future so instead of having to buy a new set every year, expand it out to every two years. Allow the figures to sell themselves and people would buy but not only as playable items but as collectibles since the design really hit its stride in 3.0. Even if there were losses from this idea, they would be negated by running with some of the movie franchises that are slated to come out in that year. This would create brand synergy and lessen any blow from these lessor known franchises with stories and characters from those bigger titles.
Moving on from the recently deceased to the very much alive, Blizzard is doing something different with the marketing for Overwatch. This being that you can request for certain theaters in the US and EU to show the cinematic trailers from the game in a theater setting (https://goo.gl/Sv5lHi). This is different but not a bad idea in itself. Blizzard fans are legion and the marketing group knows this. People would set up trips and make efforts to go to these theaters to see this 120 minute cinematic extravaganza (presented by Coca-Cola). This is an interesting move for a number of reasons. Besides drumming up a lot of support for the game and building hype levels more this is coming off of the heels of a rather successful open beta. I don’t know if any thought they would give this a shot but I have a feeling that it will pay off. The worry is that people only had two days to scramble and reserve tickets and there have to be at least 100 reserved tickets for the theaters to actually do the showing. I don’t have firm numbers but I feel like they probably reached this goal. In addition there are a few of the locations that are confirmed to do them anyway.
Having options for both is smart and will pay off in more hype. Word of mouth is powerful and besides that there is a far bit of advertising that has gone on for this already. But here is what you get go see it: a collection of cinematics, trailers for the heroes, behind the scenes look at the story board process, and some animated shorts. They are also getting some free stuff. But something that would set this over the top? For attendees, in the free stuff would be a code for skins. Not just any skins but exclusive skins based off of classic film characters for each of the heroes. People love having rare things and for those that would be interested in taking the effort to go this would be a great way to reward them, push them more to get the game as if they weren’t already, and allow for Blizzard to look like an even better company that most people perceive them to be already. Hype for this is already insane especially considering the mass amount of players that participated in the beta, why not push the mark even further?
These are just thoughts that I’ve had over the last few days looking at the trends in the gaming world. I am no professional and there are a lot of other things that go into this field but the concepts remain current. Capitalizing on the strengths of these franchises is easy as they have left a fair amount of good will with the people who have interacted with them. It is sad that we won’t see any more Disney infinity figures even if many did not seem to them to exist in the first place. Only if amiibos could get the printing techniques of the figure developers… I digress, a look into the marketing world can leave a person jaded and can leave people on the other end (those of you reading) with possible feelings of contempt. That being the soulless marketing executives that are out of touch with the consumer/fans. I would like to bridge that gap.
Picture sources: http://www.blogcdn.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2013/01/deadisland-1358259013.jpg