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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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A call from Claria

So I was surprised to see an e-mail from the marketing gal down at Claria asking to discuss the PersonAL web (I made a typo in that post) product and factual errors that occur in my anti-dangerous ads posts.

Unlike most bloggers out there, I am not afraid to give a fellow marketeer (heh) a call. And so, I appreciate Kristine and the thirty minute exchange we had before I was so rudely interrupted by another client.

So here are the errors I admit to have made in my post.

1) PersonAL web is the name of the product (DOH)
2) It is NOT a social networking tool. It is only a homepage that displays ads and internet (RSS fed) content tailored to your surfing habits.
3) It does not at this time do any browser hijacking of search engine results.
4) Gator was the only previous name of the company. GAIN and the Gain Adserver were basically product networks within the Gator company.

2 and 3 can, in theory, change, but Kristine said that she is not aware of any current plan to change them.

I have changed my blog post to reflect these factual errors.

The quote from the Wiki is true, Kristine says that it was a misguided and failed experiment. I say "Why didn't anyone figure that out before they slaughtered their reputation?" However, hindsight is 20/20.

Do I trust Claria? Despite the call, which I really do appreciate and has pulled Claria's reputation from "Gutter Trash" to "Possibly on the road to recovery" in my mind, I still am uncomfortable saying I trust them.

Is Personal Web dangerous? At this time, after my call with Kristine, I do not believe it is. However, one change to a set of Terms of Service that they know 99% of their customers won't read and it could BECOME dangerous, just like Gator became dangerous.

I appologize for the factual errors presented in my blog entry though. I hope that Claria and Personal Web proves me wrong over the next few years and they become a front runner in smart advertising solutions that MAY someday help independent developers by providing extremely targetted advertising at reasonable prices.

Until then both I and my large client will continue to ban their advertisements and not support their company.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Internet Snake Oil

I am a firm believer that mankind has not evolved much in the last 300 years. We’re still as savage as we were in the days of colonialism, but more importantly, mankind is still as gullible. In each era since the dawn of industry there have been charlatans who prey on the ‘weak minded’ or ‘weak spirited’ folk who are really just average Joes and Janes trying to get by in a world that APPEARS to be evolving much too quickly.

Each birth of new industry causes a rebirth in a new form of communication: Newspaper, Radio, Television, The Internet, Live videos of some guy jumping out of a moving car downloaded onto your Ipod… And each time some new way to better ourselves comes along, right on their coat tails are the most nefarious schemers. Today, Joe and Jane America laugh at the ads our parents and grandparents were fooled by. Yes, Joe Namith did television advertising for women’s stockings, because anything Joe said HAD to be true (right?).

A long time ago newspapers would run ads selling miracles, things that could not possibly be true, but people believed and people purchased because they did not realize something in print could be wrong (or dangerous).

Radam's Microbe Killer Lehn & Fink Ad
The following in an ad that was in the Lehn & Fink Drug Catalog of 1906...

Radam’s Microbe Killer
Drink A wineglassful of Radam's Microbe Killer after meals and at bedtime and it will prevent and cure disease by destroying bacteria, the organic life that causes fermentation and decay of the blood, the tissues and the vital organs.

Radam's Microbe Killer is the only known antiseptic principle that will destroy the germs of disease in the blood without injury to the tissues. Pleasant to the taste and agreeable to the most delicate stomach. A purely scientific remedy, recognized as a true specific.
It Cures

I Gallon Jugs, Price $3.00 40 Oz. Bottle, Price $1.99z

Taken from http://www.drugstoremuseum.com/sections/level_info2.php?level_id=40&level=2

Over time each communication form eventually caught on that selling lies was bad for business, and that real businesses were being driven away by such things. It wasn’t that the owners of the media companies cared about selling lies, it was all about money. People began to disbelieve advertising, and the MOST important factor in any advertising is credibility of source.

Now in our modern age we laugh at these pathetic attempts to fool us into believing miracles can happen. We laugh and laugh, and then we go on the internet. Two things happen. The average Joe and Jane America get fooled by internet advertising snake-oil and the un-average ‘technologically inclined’ people get insulted by ridiculous ads that make us ask “Who clicks this crap!?” It messes up the websites we like to go to, it damages their credibility with the masses, and worst of all; nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it.

That’s right, spyware, adware, malware, and spammers are the snake-oil salesman of today, not-so-cleverly disguised behind the mask of an IP address and Terms of Service they know nobody reads.

Gosh, a free screensaver from screensaver.com? Lets read the Terms of Service: “When you download a screensaver or wallpaper from Screensavers.com, you might see a promotion for one of Screensavers's award-winning software products, like our AdZapper pop-up ad killer, our Privacy Manager that helps you surf the web privately, or our Screensavers Toolbar that gives you one-click access to the web's best search engines. You are never under any obligation to try these products.”

Lets take a look at another famed culprit. Claria, previously known as Gator, Operators of GAIN. Their newest “ad” method takes the form of PersonalWeb (see graphic below). You install this program and it creates a homepage for you (Is this homepage jacking? Sort of like giving permission for homepage jacking). It watches and monitors what you do and creates a homepage around your habits, which advertisers then bid on/purchase. It sounds harmless, but in reality you’re downloading something that is watching what you are doing and creating marketing tailored specifically to you. Is that dangerous? Well, it depends on your mentality. This is coming from a company who, according to the Wikipedia, “The Gator software has in the past undercut the fundamental ad-supported nature of many Internet publishers by replacing banner ads on web sites with its own, thereby depriving the content provider of the revenue necessary to continue providing that content.”

The internet is a dangerous place, and it is dangerous because people haven’t been aggressive enough with the ad networks and websites they frequent. Get active, get your websites to BAN dangerous advertisements and get them to tell their ad network “Hell no, we won’t go…along with this crap.” I've taken a stand, with the support of one of my major clients, we have purged all known dangerous and unscrupulus ads from our ad network. We did this and sent a very nice e-mail explaining that we do NOT support these companies. While we know our stance won't change things alone, we hope to be one voice in many that doesn't take this kind of crap.

The bottom of this ad: “If you are afflicted with DEAFNESS” … yeah, oil that cures deafness.

Oh yes, I am once again the 100,000,000th person contacted. Rewards abound. And it cures deafness!*

*Restrictions Apply

My IGF List

The IGF List is now live, as you all have heard. I have my list, but my list is a little different. My list isn't who I think will make the final cut or win- it's my list of which entrants I worked with in some fashion. Some of these games I fully represented, some I only did a press release for, a couple I merely had a formal discussion and gave formal advice to (for free, that's part of my company motto, remember?)

So here goes!

Astro Battle 2 Lava Lord Games
Build a custom space ship and fight against other players in online battles.
(Ages ago I helped on Astro Battle 1)

Aveyond Amaranth Games
Fight monsters and explore a medieval world. Aveyond is packed with more than 60 quests, tons of places to explore, and over 40 hours of game play.
(Fully Represented, go Amanda!)

Bugs of War NinjaBee
Bugs of War is a fast playing, accessible, tactics strategy game. Gameplay is deep enough to be satisfying to established fans of the tactics genre, but friendly enough to appeal to more casual gamers as well.
(Seeing as I represented every other NinjaBee title, I will PROBABLY work with this one as well)

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! Mousechief Co.
Level-up a band of teen thrill-seekers for daring adventures in 1920s' USA. Scour their intolerant hometown with brazen hi-jinx. Conquer opposition with a variety of quick games: Taunt, Flirt, Fib, Expose, and Gambit. Acquire dapper dates. Use. Discard. Repeat. Win other handy items. Learn scandalous secrets. Foil a dastardly plot.
(Actually I haven't worked with this title yet, but I hope Keith will at least have me do the press release, I think I did one for The Witch's Yarn.)

Eets: Hunger. It's emotional. Klei Entertainment Inc.
Eets is a whacky and fun puzzle game that breaks the mold of the boring puzzle games of yesteryear. With vibrant graphics and gameplay reminiscent to Lemmings and The Incredible Machine, it turns a puzzle game into orchestrated action, at least when things go according to plan. Experience over a hundred puzzles included in the game, and plenty more created by our budding community!
(Fully Represented: Jamie is not as pretty as Amanda, but the game sure is.)

Epoch Star Battleline Games LLC.
Prepare yourself for an epic space adventure. Blast apart enemy ships in real-time combat at the helm of your own customizable warship. Complete missions to gain wealth and experience as you explore a distant galaxy filled with exotic alien races to save the universe from the ominous Epoch Star.
(Advice given)

Kudos Positech Computing Ltd
Kudos is a turn-based 'life-simulation' where you control your character from age twenty to thirty, and see if you can turn their life around. You control each day of their life deciding who to socialize with, where to work, and how they relax in their free time.
(Press Release)

Minions of Mirth Prairie Games, Inc.
Minions of Mirth is a no-monthly-fee MMORPG! Persistent world with 14 diverse regions, hundreds of quests, thousands of monsters, day/night cycles, and realistic weather. 12 unique races and 16 classes for thousands of playable combinations. Single player, epic battles, player guilds, two hour original score, and more!
(Fully Represented, best of luck Lara!)

New Star Soccer 3 New Star Games
New Star Soccer 3 is the football career game that lets YOU be the star player. Defender, midfielder or attacker, the choice is yours, just make sure you keep the boss, fans and everyone else happy on your rise to football stardom!
(Press Release)

Pursuit of Power Precision Games, LLC
Pursuit of Power is a real-time strategy game based in a fantasy setting. You assume the role of a leader with powerful abilities that play a decisive role during battles. Your main goal is to defeat all enemy portals and troops.
(Press Release)

Potion Motion Flashbang Studios, LLC
Help Kira the Witch stir up some trouble in this dazzling puzzle game! Rotate pieces around the board to match up colors, create combos, unlock special moves, and buy powerups! The beautiful, eye-catching graphics, relaxing orchestral soundtrack, and innovative rotate gameplay add up to a recipe for fun!
(While i haven't worked with Potion Motion, I did help bring Glow Worm to retail. Buy it now at Comp USA and other fine retailers!)

Starchon Freelance Games
Starchon is a 360 degree scrolling space action shooter with real-time strategy elements. You can't directly decide where to place your computer controlled support units or which sectors to they will attack. However, you have a lot of indirect influence over the outcome of the game. The game is real-time, so if you take to long in a sector, you will probably be overrun by the enemies in the adjacent sectors.
(Advice given)

Stunt Bike Island ForgeFX
Stunt Bike Island is a real-time 3D bike game with spectacular stunts and a tropical twist! Get away to the islands and launch yourself into the trade winds while pulling backflips, yahoos, deathboxes, tail whips and a boat-load of other insane stunts. Collect speed-boosts and other power-ups while you jump over trees, ponds, boulders, and mountains.
(I just started working with ForgeFX on a variety of potential business ventures. We'll see if that goes anywhere!)

Virtual Villagers: A New Home Last Day of Work
Care for and nurture a tribe of little villagers by teaching them the basics of survival. They need to become farmers, builders, scientists, parents and make decisions about unpredictable ‘island events’! Guide their day-to-day lives and help them explore their new island home and the secrets it holds.
(Press Release)

Overall, not a bad list if I do say so myself.

Best of luck to everyone who worked with me and a little less to anyone who didn't :)

PS: I did buy Andy lunch once, does that count as working with Venture Arctic? I'll do it again if so :)