DISCLAIMER: It’s late. I’m tired. I keep dozing off. Please disregard any misspellings, incomplete sentences or any other grammatical errors that may exist. Your patience is appreciated.

As a follow up to yesterdays blog titled "Feeding the Cash Cow" that focused on the merchandising side of certain game titles (apparel, books, collectibles), today’s blog will focus on the marketing techniques the companies are taking to promote their games in an effort to maximize sales. It's a subject I've blogged on to some degree before...but this angle is a bit different.



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We've all heard the infomercials and advertisements. They lure you in with a somewhat interesting product and then try and set the hook with the claim of a free item limited to those who act now prior to the cutoff. While video game sales haven't gotten this ghetto, there certainly has been a degree of creativity and flair put forth in the marketing department. I applaud the efforts of the various game companies’ marketing departments and the tactics they are employing now to make purchasing that new game a somewhat entertaining process.



A few of the techniques being used and my thoughts on each...(Please feel free to reply with your comments or thoughts on how much consideration you give to marketing and how it affects your game purchases).


Midnight Releases. Hey, who doesn't love a party, especially one where you are surrounded by fellow geeks and gamers. Usually Gamestop puts on the best show, but every now and then other retail stores like Best Buy will follow suit and have a midnight release party. More often than not, I will attend the midnight release, get home, watch the introduction of the game I just stood in line for hours to get, and then go straight to bed. Usually I won't even play the game. It isn't about getting the game, it's more about enjoying the moment. The kids and I have some great memories of attending the midnight release. Sure, I could wait until the next day or two to pick it up since I don't really plan on playing it that night, but at least I can say on the night Modern Warfare 2 broke all the records, I was there, in line, taking part in making history.



Collectors Editions or Editions with Goodies. We've all seen it. The Night Vision Goggles that came with Modern Warfare 2. The Spartan Helmet with Halo. I've seen T-shirts, USB thumb drives, lunch boxes, console faceplates and custom joysticks offered with the premier edition of certain games. Some just sport a fancy custom box, like Halo 3's metal looking box and some come with a bonus DVD chock a block full of things like the development team interviews, artwork and behind the scenes video clips. I'm kind of a base model guy. I don't really ever pay the extra $10, 20, 30 or 40 bucks to get the goodies. But I have to tell you, sometimes when I'm waiting in line at the midnight release and I see the folks who purchased the super duper edition pick up their goodies, I'm a little jealous. I'm sure if the right game and goodie came along, I'd buy it.



In Game Goodies. Gamers are suckers for their trinkets and the marketing teams sure know how to exploit this fact. Pre-order a game and get a weapon, rank, title or as witnessed in Team Fortress 2, a hat. (People who pre-ordered Left for Dead 2 got a special hat for Team Fortress 2). I often wonder how much the executives at Valve chuckle at the extreme efforts we'll go through to get a hat.



Special Access. Select gamers get privileged access to upcoming beta tests and/or demos based on ownership of a previously purchased title. Right now I am pretty stoked about the upcoming release of Halo: Reach and Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Now, if I want to play in the beta and/or demo for these games, I have to have Halo: ODST and Splinter Cell: Conviction. The good thing is I already have ODST and have I Conviction on reserve, but what if I didn't? If I didn't, then I have to decide how much I want to play Reach or Future Soldier before the rest of the gaming community that isn't granted access to the demo and if it's so much so that I'm willing to pay for the game I'm required to own, then I’d have to buy it. Whether you think that's right or wrong; fair or unfair...is irrelevant. It's a brilliant marketing scheme. I think it’s received by the gaming community something like, if you already own the game and get a benefit out of it then it's a great idea; but if you don't own the game and have no desire to buy the game, then it's a sleazy used car salesman trick that will result in you picking up your toys and going to play in someone else's sandbox.



Controlled Release. This is probably the one aspect of marketing that really kind of annoys me, largely because I am a PC Gamer, and usually the PC platform is the one that suffers from this concept. Essentially, specific titles are released on certain platforms before they are released across the board to all. I'm sure there is a lot of money and super secret handshaking that goes on to get this deal negotiated but usually there is a whole section of the community that is being impacted. If you're a console gamer, this doesn't necessarily affect you as the games are typically released at the same time. However, there are console exclusive titles which are an obvious control of the market. It's not to say it’s always bad. Valve has done an amazing job spoiling the PC gaming community with frequent sales of digitally distributed titles, often bundled with other games or products.



Okay…enough yakking about buying games…


Let’s do this…