[MUD-Dev] Marketing Resources?

Tom Hunter tchunter3 at comcast.net
Sat Apr 30 05:10:09 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


I think Mike Rozak makes a number of good points but is also a
little harsh.

Mike Rozak wrote:
> Michael Hartman wrote:

>> It seems like building hype and getting the community started
>> around a game is a vitally important aspect of having a good
>> release. The question then is how best to accomplish that.

> Is an early announce such a good idea?

Depends on how you define early.  The earlier you announce the more
likely you are to have one or more of the problems listed below.

>   1) You get a lot of initial buzz when your VW is newly added to
>   MMORPG.com (or whatever), but subsequent updates don't get as
>   much. Your 50'th update of the week is pretty much ignored.

I am assuming some hyperbole there, if you really are making 50
annoucements a week you deserve to be ignored.  But really what you
are looking for is the sweet spot where people see enough of you to
remember your game, but not so much they get bored with you.

>   2) When you put a web site up ahead of time, you may make
>   promises (or statements perceived as promises) that you can't
>   keep.

You don't have to do this, but its a good point and you should guard
against it.

>   3) You will get a lot of feedback from users who comment about
>   your MMORPG as they imagine it to be from your limited
>   descriptions. They can't comment on your real MMORPG until you
>   have a public beta. I don't know how valuable such comments are.

There are actually two issues here.  One is setting customer
expectations and the other is managing your own response to feedback
from your potential customers.  Both of these are complex and I am
not going to explore them further in this post because I don't
really have the time right now.

>   4) If you do manage to build and maintain a community long
>   before launch then you get hoards of players trying to log in on
>   the first day, half of which won't be playing in a month. The
>   result is that the servers crash all the time in the first
>   month, not only because they're overloaded, but also because
>   they're new and untested. I think you'd want a slow launch, and
>   only hype things up once things are stable and existing players
>   are happy.

Launching without understanding how many people are likely to sign
up and go unstable because of it that is a huge mistake.  But it
does not have to work that way at all.  And I completely disagree
with wanting a slow launch and then hyping things.  Slow launches
cost much more money than fast launches.  Ideally you want a huge
number of happy paying customers from day 1.  Your whole plan should
aim for that.

>   5) Your competitors get to see what your VW looks like 2 years
>   before it's done, or at the very least the get a
>   warning. (Assuming you do the standard MMORPG trick and put up
>   screen shots as soon as you have a single avatar running around
>   in a treeless world with one house.)

I am going to disregard this comment because it assumes your stupid.
But I will ad one caviat in case some one reading this is way ahead
of the curve.  If you really think you have something completly new
build an IP strategy around it so your competitors can't imitate
you.  Then you can announce early and build on it over time.

>   6) If you put up a web page before your public beta, the main
>   feature you'll be competing on is "my screenshots look better
>   than yours". You can describe your really cool crafting system,
>   but until players can try it out, they'll look at the
>   screenshots instead. (I'm being a bit cynical here.)

We are back to PoPs and PoDs again.  (Points of Parity, Points of
Differentiation for those who did not read my earlier post.) Mike is
right again, because no matter how cool your crafting system is its
just a claim until people can use it.  A statement about a crafting
system is unlikely to count as more than a PoP.  An actual working
system might be a PoD though I have my doubts.

Its really hard to make a PoD on things that exist in other games.
Better crafting, more realistic combat, stunning graphics, everyone
has them and pre-release no one will really believe your that
different.

Going back to DAOC they had realm war.  No one else had it, everyone
could understand what it was and some people wanted it.  It was a
really good PoD.  They also advertised crafting, classes, races and
so on but those were PoPs.  If your web site is competing on "better
screenshots" then your working from a disadvantage.  You need PoDs.

> There is one very good reason to pre-announce: FUD = Fear,
> uncertainty, and doubt. If a potential player knows that MMORPG A
> is coming out in October, and MMORPG B in December, and they think
> they'll like MMORPG B better, they'll wait until December to buy
> MMORG B. If they don't know MMORPG B is coming out, they might get
> bored in October and might by MMORPG A, despite it not being their
> ideal MMORPG; When MMORPG B comes out they'll still be playing
> MMORPG A and won't buy MMORPG B (for a few months, at least).

This is occasionally true in commercial software.  I will take an
absolutist stance on this one and say its just wrong when it comes
to entertainment software.  Consumers are not, ever, fearful when
making choices about how to spend an entertiament dollar.  If there
is an element of fear in the question they go somewhere else. That
is why Iraq's tourist industry is in such bad shape.

Players may wait for a new game they think they will like, but that
is not motivated by fear, its motivated by thier understanding of
the PoPs and PoDs of the product.  Even waiting for the release to
see if a product is buggy is not fear.  Maybe its doubt but even
there I think its a stretch.

FUD really does happen when your putting your career on the line to
implement new software inside a company and your not sure if it will
either work or produce the hoped for gain in corporate performance.
When people fail at that they lose thier jobs.  That does not
describe the thought process going on in a consumers head when they
decide to buy your game or some other game.

Though maybe a few people should have asked themselves if their
marriage would be affected by the decision to become a Jedi Knight
in SWG.

Tom Hunter
To reach my hopelessly obsolete web site:
  http://www.compassrosegames.com/
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