[MUD-Dev] Marketing Resources?

Tom Hunter tchunter3 at comcast.net
Fri May 6 00:03:28 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Also there is room to disagree here.

"Mike Rozak" <Mike at mxac.com.au> wrote:
> Jason Smith wrote:

>> Not only is it not an early announcement for an MMOG, it's
>> imperative. In fact, 6-12 months from release is actually be far
>> too /short/ a time to be effective.

There is little proof one way or another here, and there is also some
semantics.  I would agree that 6 months from release is too little time, but
6 months before first beta could be the right amount of time depending on
your beta cycle, your marketing budget and other aspects of your marketing
strategy.  Jason (and by implication you in the notes below) are describing
one set of options, its a set that has worked, but it has also failed, and
there is more than one way to skin a cat.

> My read on your marketing schedule is:

>   1) 12-18(?) months before ship, put up a web site to get hard core
>   gamers to buy in, since they're IEUs (influentual end-users for
>   those not into TLAs) that less technical friends rely upon for
>   information.

>   2) Dribble information out over time... although perhaps monthly
>   at first, and weekly near the end.

Information needs to come out as part of a plan.  Dribbling is one kind of
marketing plan another is blitz (where you show up everywhere) then go quiet
for a planned period then blitz again.  The point is there is more than one
way to do this.

>   3) Non hard-core gamers are brought in by hard core gamers. This
>   creates a positive feedback cycle which is designed to peak at
>   launch.

True to a large degree, but non-hardcore are also brought in by advertising,
favorable reviews, and even season of the year and launches of other
products.  If you ingnore these issues you will have a less efficient
marketing program.  A lot of marketing is a game of inches, Jason's post was
very focused on the community, focus on the community is critical, you
should always start there, but a really good campaign starts there but goes

>   4) Combine with generous amounts of web interviews, magazine
>   interviews (taking into account the 3 month publishing delay),
>   web-ads, radio and TV interviews (not common yet), etc.

See above, remember that getting all these things to work together is
difficult because it involves so many other people from different
organizations with different goals.

Snipped obsevations about MMORPG.com

> It seems to me, a winning strategy for MMORPG.com is:

>   1) Have really good screenshots, even though those screenshots may
>   require a $2000 video card to render. A nice web-page with
>   gramatically-correct English is also good. (The WoW articles were
>   very well written, although you'd have to rely on hard-core gamers
>   to actually read the tomes and produce a one-sentence summary to
>   their non-hardcore friends, who gave up after the first paragraph
>   and just looked at the pretty pictures... Again, I'm being a bit
>   facetious.)

>   2) Announce on MMORPG.com.

>     2a) Advertise on MMORPG.com so they are more inclined to give
>     you interviews and other news-item space. I don't know if
>     MMORPG.com works this way, but print media often does.

>   3) As the game's hype-meter score starts to fall (in about a
>   month), come out with an "earth-shattering" announcement of a
>   unique selling point.

>   3) Repeat, trying to keep the game's hype-meter up as long as
>   possible, since a top-7 game will draw the most clicks, and hence,
>   the most potential players.

>   4) A VW won't have more than a few "earth-shattering"
>   announcements in its arsenal. For example: EQ II's first major
>   announcement was its existence. #2 was the DX9 graphics quality
>   (USP). #3 was the inclusion of voice-overs (USP). EQII's sharding
>   may have been a USP, but it didn't make any impact on me; I'm not
>   sure what other users thought at the time.

I am glad earth shattering is in quotes, because none of these things are
really earth shattering.  They are incremental improvements.

>   5) 3 major announcements one month apart, culminating in a 3-6
>   month public beta, would mean starting the PR machinery 6-9 months
>   ahead of launch.

Yes it would, but I would beware of making your announcments conform to your
time table.  Much wiser to make your time table conform to your
announcements.  IF you do the first and you only have 2 really interesting
things to say you will end up with 4-7 months of boring press releases.
This will cost you money and won't help sell your game.  But lets say you
have 2 really inovative features that the market wants.  You can structure
blitzes around them and make sure everyone in the world knows you have them.
That can carry your game to a succesful launch, so can the plan suggested by
Jason in his post.  But either plan can fail too, it depends on the game.
The good marketer will make the marketing campaign conform to the game, not
to some arbitrary schedule.

>   6) If I were a major MMORPG, I'd add another 3 months for FUD
>   reasons. (It seems like not everyone understood FUD, so I'll
>   explain a bit more. FUD was a term used at Microsoft to describe
>   announcements of a product way ahead of scheduled release. The
>   purpose of a FUD announcement is to keep users from buying a
>   competitor's product while they wait for yours to come out. No-one
>   ever admits to using FUD, so FUD may all be one big conspiracy
>   theory. FUD was eventually (officially) banned because a) products
>   always shipped a year late, making a FUD pre-announce look like an
>   intentional lie instead of the result of an over-zealous schedule,
>   b) FUD can sometimes backfire and affect your own product sales,
>   and c) the FTC and/or other government organizations got
>   upset... or so goes the rumor.)

I've used FUD in commercial software, believe me I know what it is.  For
reasons I detailed in my earlier posts I don't think it really exists in
consumer marketing.  FUD is a useful tool just like sawsalls and sledge
hammers but I would not use sawsalls and sledgehammers to plant a flower
garden, and I would not try FUD in a consumer product.

> That comes to 9-12 months for a large MMORPG, 6-9 for a small one.

No, no, no, your back on arbitrary time tables again, plus why 9-12 for
large and 6-9 for small?  Your making some kind of assumption when you say
that, and what ever the assumption is I am questioning it. Its very
difficult to build really good marketing strategy on unspoken assumptions,
if you want a good strategy you have to list everything you believe to be
true about your product and the market, then plan on that basis.

> If I were to pre-announce 12-18 (or more) months ahead of time, as
> you suggest, my mental marketing model implies that the momentum
> from each major announcement would stall long before the next major
> announcement.

Depends on the announcement.  If I announced a product that granted the user
eternal life and said it will be available in 2008 I would have plenty of
buzz between now and then even if I spread my follow on announcements every
12 months.  New screen shots have a short shelf life, but Mythics
annoucement of Realm War had a long buzz that never really went away.

> You have way more experience than I do, so something must be wrong
> in my calculations. I know that MMORPG.com is only one of many
> channels of marketing, and while it may be similar to other web
> channels like MMORPGDot.com, it's radically different from
> print. Building a community has already been mentioned, although my
> un-marketing mind thinks 9-12 months should be plenty of time. All
> the points you mentioned were important, but they don't seem to
> require more than 9-12 months (to me.) What am I missing?

Years and years of marketing experience.  One of the reasons I keep my big
mouth shut when questions about code come up is lack of expertise.  Its not
that I no nothing, but its not what I do, I can make comments that are
intelligent, ask good questions and even make good suggestions from time to
time but I also make comments that show a lot of ignorance, mistakes
assumptions and so on.  Please don't take this as negative critcism of your
posts, they are driving an interesting discussion and show an intelligent
point of veiw, but we all learn from experience and people who have been
marketing for decades ought to have some additional knowledge.  (though the
cynic in me thinks a lot of them don't)

Tom Hunter
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