The lights are on
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A post on Dtoid got me wondering. The Dtoid community has found that PAX no longer really serves their needs as a community, as a place to get together and share camaraderie and video games. With tickets to PAX selling out within minutes, and with the proliferation of online streaming services, just how essential are PAX, E3, and other big industry events to the modern gamer? In concluding my miniseries of blogging within my 31/31 about E3, these are some of the issues about the event, the people who make and partake of them, and the gamers they ostensibly serve which I want to focus on.
Rethinking the approach to E3 is something Nintendo has embraced, using a Nintendo Direct-style online video stream to reach its audience and gamers everywhere. While there are some flaws with this approach such as lag and the "chat" being incomprehensible at the rate it goes, is this a more inclusive approach compared to events like PAX which only allow a small percent of gamers to attend, or which includes only the press and industry people like with E3?
Who exactly is the modern gamer by the way? Is it someone following all the press releases and the video streams, who attends PAX and stays glued to Game Informer Online, Dtoid, or their website of choice and await every announcement for upcoming games? This view of the modern gamer appears to exclude many, if not most, of the modern gaming audience: who may hear about games from their pals on social media or an add alongside whatever mobile or browser game they are playing, or even learning about a game just from the cover and blurb on the back as they walk into Gamestop or a retailer like Walmart looking for something to buy for someone else or "just because it looks cool."
In marketing one of the key concepts is to "grow the audience", to reach those who may not be aware of or have engaged with your product previously. With modern gaming often costing tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, is the industry even capable of being relevant or financially responsible by appealing to those who go to PAX or watch E3?
"Inclusion" is a pretty hot topic in modern gaming, but are gamers comfortable with their culture, their industry, their passion no longer being entirely focused on them? How do these gamers view, engage, and incorporate these "other" gamers into gaming, and how do those behind the PAXs and E3s do the same?
"This is MY tree house!"
1. The Country Club Approach:
These gamers and game makers are a niche and sell to a niche and they know it (and are proud of it). Think of the XSEEDs, the Atluses, etc. Crazy cosplay, wacky promotions, they know who their customers are, and don't care about changing a thing for either a changing social climate or to reach new markets.
2. The Open Borders Approach:
You haven't heard of them, no site reviews their games, but their ads are always there. Always. Depending on where you go, the same graphics are used, but the ad itself promises something wildly new. The only game I can think of with half naked elves with a realistic farming simulator.
3. The Breakfast Club Approach:
Think Candy Crush Saga. Farmville. Sure, it seems like they'll take everyone and everything, but with more money poured into understanding their customer than XSeed makes in a year, this carefully crafted welcoming approach is perhaps better said to not be so much welcoming as emotionally manipulative (yes, just like your favorite 80s teen movie). These companies know exactly who plays their games, for how long, who they share it with on Facebook...
They put the NSA to shame, really.
So, gamers, what approach do you think PAX and E3 seem to prefer? Should they, or should they not, change their approach to reaching gamers and new markets? Sound off in the comments, or follow me on Twitter @CodeNameCrono for more gaming, geekery, and thoughts on the games we play and the people who play them.
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