The piracy at the end of the PS1 really tore the heart out of the video games industry. At Codemasters we had massive redundancies. So when Operation Flashpoint came along we didn’t have much of a marketing budget. Liz Darling and her team of marketing creatives produced a superb visual brand, as always. This combined with a really special game gave us something to work with.
So the main marketing thrust became PR and online, especially the community side of online. There was nearly zero advertising. And the game went to number one in every market with a chart, including the USA, where it was, and still is, Codemasters’ only ever number one.
Now we have another PC number one that has gone down the PR route. Football Manager 2008 from Sports Interactive is one of the top ten fastest selling PC games ever in the UK. With a “cash free” media blitz they have proven, once again, that brains work just as well as money when you want to reach your potential customers.
I think a lot of marketeers buy advertising out of habit. Or to get rid of the budget. Or because they don’t know any better. Or, as I have seen, all three. It is still very true that many avenues of marketing are relatively lightly trodden by the games industry. Perhaps part of this has to do with our historic obsession with adolescent boys. Part to do with the fact that game magazine advertising teams have always been one of the most professional parts of the industry. But there is no real excuse for such bias in the marketing mix.
So are you a gratuitous spender on advertising, or a stealthy manipulator of the marketing mix? Post your comments below.