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Video Game Marketing

Indie Game Marketing from the author of the Game Marketing book, The Indie Developer's Guide to Selling Games. Video Game Marketing made simple... or at least as simple as I can make it.

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Location: Philomath, Oregon, United States

As you can see on the left: I am a professional juggler. The rest you can learn from this Blog.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who's Your User?

On the web a topic I really dont hear much chatter about is "who" is visiting your site. Not, specifically, in the individual sense, but the general demographic layout of a site.

For instance, which is better, to have 50% US traffic and 100,000 visitors or have 25% US traffic and 200,000 visitors?

Both have the same NUMBER of US visitors, and the second group has more traffic... and that should make them better, right? The answer: Maybe.

People reading this may have a diverse set of site types. A high bandwidth, low/no ad site may simply not CONVERT high enough to make the use of bandwidth worth crappy traffic, meaning foreign traffic actually costs you money to have. A high ad, low bandwidth site, on the otherhand, suffers from something different. Did you know that US % can influence your overall ad revenue? That's right, some ads dont run on sites where the overall US % is too low, meaning your eCPM drops because your demographics aren't up to snuff. Similarly special ad deals are always easier to negotiate when you can claim high US %. Special treatment can make a site with half the traffic earn more than twice as much... though honestly twice as much is pushing the limit I believe (but still, a pretty big boost).

Oh but it gets more complex boys and girls! Not only does that matter, but targetting matters too. What kinds of games are you posting? I'm becoming more and more convinced that targetting gender and (if possible) age are further keys to success on the web.

In the example where you are selling a product or retaining users its the same but slightly different stories. Lets use dress up games as an example, targetting young females. If you place DUGs on a general game site you end up with an item that interests some, and your site by mixing together content may appeal to everyone. On the otherhand if you ONLY target girls you'll lose half your traffic (the boys).

HOWEVER because your site is so full of RELEVANCE the return rate of the 50% may be so much higher that you actually grow faster than a mixed site. The cherry on top? By targetting demographically you ALSO are better able to SELL them games and/or sell targetted advertising (IE: Hasbro would be more likely to want a My Little Pony ad on a girl site than a mixed site; or some girly downloadable games would have a much higher conversion rate).

So could you WIN by targetting niches rather than the cookie cutter model of white lable one-stop game shops all carrying the same ecclectic mix? Could you win by trying to retain only USA users?

Beats me :) There are examples on both sides of the fence on this one, but I just wanted to bring the theory up that more traffic volume is not neccessarily more valuable. A counter intuitive theory that makes the internet go round.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's a year without updates?

I've said it before and I will probably say it again. Im going to try to keep this dang thing updated!

Someone actually commented to me, in person, about a blog entry; which made me feel really guilty for not keeping it up to snuff. Mind you, it was a compliment, but still.

News is I am going to have a few articles in an upcoming book from gamedev.net; i'll let everyone know where and when. No new material really, just some cleaned up articles I wrote for them ages ago.

Most of my time currently is spent on Fallout 3. Good? Bad? Well I am the most jaded of jaded gamers and I have to say it is overwhelmingly positive. Not perfect; nothing is... but gosh its been a lot of fun. #1 complaint is the game lacks that certain personality that #1 and #2 had. That sort of personality that can be described in the same sentence as Monty Python or... perhaps... Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry). Yes Fallout 3 traded whimsical post apocalyptia for a more hard nose stance of trouble in the wasteland. Or perhaps it's just that even in the post apocalyptic future the west is more laid back than the east.

I've got business deals brewing, for those that are curious what I am doing with all the time I am NOT spending writing blogs, books, or dime romance novels. I can't talk about ANY of them really, but suffice to say while some may have taken my absense as some kind of retreat from the perils of game marketing it is quite the opposite.

I'll try to remember to make a post on the changing landscape of the gaming world. There's a storm brewing people, don't ignore the signs of change.

-Joe

Friday, June 13, 2008

E Tu Mortus?

Larva Mortus






From the creators of Jets N’ Guns comes a very creepy kind of shooter. This game is a non-stop action thrill ride! Parental Warning: Contains graphic bodily explosions and some serious splatter.



Larva Mortus

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A New Review

My book got a new review recently. Thought I would post it.

http://www.spellofplay.com/node/65

Sorry for the extreme lack of updates, it's been an exceptionally busy summer; far more than I had expected.

Life goes on here. Arcade Town is about to break Alexa 1,000 (I take some of the credit for this upcoming achievement- the rest goes out to Brian and Tom).

I've been helping the game Galactic Melee with marketing advice
http://www.galacticmelee.com/

I'm also still giving some advice to the RTS/MMO/CCG Saga,
www.playsaga.com

Beyond that I am just busy trying to stay on top of the huge to-do list with keeping ArcadeTown and Heavy Games running smooth.

-Joe

Monday, February 26, 2007

GameDev Article on Portals

I finally wrote an update to this blog! AND... I wrote another article for GameDev! First in a long time.

The subject is what portals want - or more accurately what we want at ArcadeTown. We only assume other portals think on the same lines, but obviously can't speak for them.

Enjoy it :)

http://www.gamedev.net/reference/business/features/arcadetown/

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Future of Indie Games

I've given a lot of thought as to the ways the indie game "bubble" can progress into the future. It is some people's opinion that making predictions like this are foolish. As they say, better to say nothing and have people think you the fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Lucky for me that in this case I don't care what people think- I'd rather say it now and be called foolish later than stay quiet and see even one person suffer when they don't respond to a changing environment fast enough.

So here is the scoop.

Rising production costs have been ongoing and will continue on into the future. The newest item entering our market space is agents. Agents represent your products, getting you better deals with the portals (and taking a cut for themselves).

The agents are going to be aided by two facts early on. One, they can actually make you more money than they cost. Two, CERTAIN portals require the use of approved agents to get your games on their site.

Ok, the cutting edge background is set here's the way things are going to come down:

As the number of games rise the need for agents will increase. Other portals will begin adopting agent-only policies. Eventually game makers will be forced to have an agent, and as the agent will require that only they may make the deals, even portals that do NOT require agents will end up dealing mostly with them.

As the number of agents grows the individual power of agents decreases. Eventually, since game developers are going to be forced to use them, agents will end up taking more than they are able to negotiate. The "confused" masses will say things like "Well, without the agent I would have gotten nothing." - And they are right of course.

This percent loss is going to come out of developer pockets. As rising production value = rising cost, the 'break even' point on indie games is going to get harder and harder to maintain. Eventually, most indie developers will be forced out of development; being unable to either get the capital needed to produce a competitive indie game and turn a profit when they are now getting LESS than 20% of a sale. Further, certain clauses in portal contracts are bound to exacerbate this bad percentage.

Probably on top of that some larger portals are bound to be acquired by other portals. Thus reducing competitiveness and further empowering those larger portals to give worse deals to indie developers.

When will this happen? It could be a year, it could be a decade. I don't know, but this is my current leading theory on the method that will cause the collapse of the indie developed games- though I have a seperate theory on something that could cause the collapse of the downloadable game market as a whole. But that requires game consoles to become household objects used by the entire family for entertainment in place of their PC.... Hey did you know what Nintendo's Wii's goal is? Hmmm...

I'm not saying we're all doomed, because frankly some people are going to make out like bandits. Just be aware of the potential path and hazard and recognize it when you see it coming.

Finally, a side note: So long as I am with ArcadeTown I plan on stressing to the upper management (read: Brian) we never require our developers use agents. Using them will be up to you guys. Sadly, that is all I can do to stem this potential endemic.

I hope this indie bubble lasts decades rather than years though, because I'm sure having a good time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Hamlet

Many of you know my passing obsession with online games. I love to analyze them, I love to play them, and I can't ever seen to find one I want to play for more than a few months. Sad, but true.

I want to make a comparison between real estate marketing and game marketing in this "all to similar" world in which we live.

What is the difference between a hamlet and a town? Well, there may actually be one in the technical name- but looking beyond the potential "Joe, a town is not actually a hamlet" mentality is that the perceived size of a game matters to the value of the product. A hamlet sounds cozy and friendly, a town is just a town. If you describe the place you live in that cozy and small villa motif the value of your place increases. Further, if it LOOKS like that (regardless of actual population) the value increases more.

What am I getting at? Too often I find all these games which are not cozy and not small villas. They actually try to market a quasi-metropolitan ideal. A HUGE world FILLED with people where you're actions are INSIGNIFICANT because there's always someone way higher level than you doing important stuff.

Ok, nobody actually describes it like that, but essentially that is what they are doing.

When determining your design of the game and the way you deal with community and interactivity consider trying to minimize the impact of having large populations. Sure, you want 100 million players, but you want each player to feel like they are a member of a bedroom community. Figure out a way to have both and you'll find yourself rolling in the riches.

The reason behind this is simple. People like to feel special. You can't feel special if you know how small you are. The community needs to build people up, even if it is in some small way. They don't all need to be kings of kingdoms, but to have something percieved as unique- the best blacksmith in a kingdom, the strongest warrior, the guy who can drink more ale than anyone else... WHAT it is doesn't matter. What matters is IDENTITY. People need identity in online communities; and the current cookie cutter designs never seem to deliver.

So give that one some thought. How do you give 1 million players an individual identity that goes beyond an avatar....

Good luck, it ain't easy ;-)