Game marketing is three times more important than product quality

Triplets

This makes absolute complete and utter sense. People buy perceptions, not reality. And people are far more concerned about peer pressure than they are concerned about their own judgement.

There is a make of car that is distinctly average. In fact some of the smaller models are not very good at all. Yet it manages to sell extremely well despite selling at a premium price. Because people want to be seen behind the badge. They will pay thousands of dollars in premium to buy just a few dollars worth of chrome and enamel badge. And most people buy silver and grey ones, because that is what everyone else does. All due to the power of marketing. The brand is presented as sporty which is just the image every housewife wants when she does the school run. Customers just don’t realise when they are victims.

If you are a game developer and you tell your mum about the game you are working on then that is marketing. Marketing is any communication. So it is a fact that a game with zero marketing will have zero sales.

Over the years I  have never seen a game get the sales that it deserved just for its quality. Yet I have many times seen a game get far more sales than it deserves because of its marketing. And I have also seen many good games fail because of bad marketing.

Just look at the five games I was writing about yesterday. They are virtually identical yet they have massively different numbers of players. The difference is just the marketing. Marketing is more important than the game, this is a self evident truth.

Yet still there are very many game publishers who do not understand this. Many self and small publishers on the iPhone App Store, for instance. There you can see that marketed games sell well, non marketed games sell badly. It has precious little to do with the quality of the game. (Unless it is a total dog).

Now EEDAR has done research in the game marketplace from which they say “Marketing influences game revenue three times more than quality scores”. And actually the difference is even bigger than that, because the scores form part of the marketing!

So there you have it. If you want to sell more games and make more money then send me an email and I will come and sort it out for you!

11 comments ↓

#1 Ben on 11.20.09 at 1:08 pm

I’m developping an iPhone game myself, when do you think would be the right time to start marketing? When a teaser trailer is done?

I agree that there is never too much marketing. Games like Army Of Two lived off their marketing despite the fact that the experience was very poor. All EA had to do is to compare it to Gears of War…bold but rewarding move.

#2 BC on 11.20.09 at 2:25 pm

For something like an iphone game you should be marketing from day one. Anything indie like that, the customer likes to feel he ‘owns’ the game already by feeling involved in the development process. Dev diarys, getting people to see it the game and getting their comments would be a good start.

#3 Mark on 11.20.09 at 3:09 pm

I thought this was worth commenting on purely because of the picture – haven’t even read the article yet but the picture automatically gives it 10/10!

#4 Christian Watson on 11.20.09 at 3:21 pm

I agree with the original article up until the comment about PS3 sales being driven by improved marketing rather than the price cut. Please — the only thing people complained about regarding the PS3 was the price. It was simply too expensive to begin with.

Also, other surveys (sorry, not sure which) have shown that word of mouth is the most important factor in influencing what games people buy. Where do you place this in relation to marketing spend?

#5 Bruce on 11.20.09 at 3:41 pm

@Christian
Of course word of mouth is key. But you have to propagate it. It has to start somewhere, it doesn’t just happen.
You need people to be talking about you and the only way to do that is to be worth talking about. Which means creating exciting stories and getting them out there.

These days videos are massively important.

#6 Ben on 11.20.09 at 5:09 pm

Developper diary is a very good idea BC. Will get working on that, tnx.

#7 Tight Jeans on 11.20.09 at 9:07 pm

I can’t help but be slightly amazed Bruce, that as someone with a significant profile and background in ‘Marketing’ that you continue to confuse ‘Marketing’ and ‘Promotion’.

Promotion is a small part of Marketing.

Where you are spot on, is your assertion that companies invest far too much energy in promotion and often poor, un-innovative out and out ‘advertising’.

Sorry if I’m being unfairly pedantic, but I’m sure you will understand my frustration. You can be brilliant at the wrong product, but it’s still the wrong product.

#8 Scottie_UK on 11.21.09 at 3:22 am

Yeah what smart person would buy a Lexus? :D

#9 Sean Bean's Gravy Boat on 11.21.09 at 6:29 pm

I’d be interested to know what the marketing and promotional spend was on American Idol / Pop Idol, and to be able to directly compare that to the sales that it got.

If there was one game that could prove your point, then maybe it would be that one? It was total arse, wasn’t it?

#10 Bruce on 11.22.09 at 11:13 am

I built a defence against American / Pop Idol in the article when I said: “(Unless it is a total dog)”
At the time I was almost in shock that they had invested in such rubbish and that they expected me to help them sell it.

#11 Sean Bean's Gravy Boat on 11.26.09 at 11:15 am

Of course they expected to help you sell the game – that WAS your job wasn’t it?

I didn’t think that people that worked in marketing & promotions got to pick and choose what products they actually promoted based on what they thought was good and what wasn’t. The way you have worded that response comes across as though you just couldn’t be bothered to promote the product because you thought it was rubbish.

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