Marketing

Why I’m Excited About Google+

So Google+ is here, In a limited way of course. People seem to be falling over themselves to get on the latest Social Network. I was lucky enough to get an invite from a friend on Twitter and it has got me really excited, and this is why;

As a young marketer I am still learning, there are some things I know and I do well at but this industry is ever changing, new ways of doing things come around every single day, every single hour. There is nowhere that I feel that I can get access to quality information quickly. Facebook is full of school “friends” that I haven’t seen for 8 years, must of who are whinging about their life. LinkedIn, while great for networking and keeping in contact with people you meet isn’t great for sharing information. LinkedIn groups, in my opinion, are pretty useless, far too overused with not enough good coming out of them. Maybe I have joined the wrong groups but I don’t find much of use on there.

Google Plus Logo

I am always looking to learn and develop myself. I want to be the best at my job that I can be. Going forward I want to be working hard, earning a good wage and producing quality work and to do that I need to be able to find out about the latest innovations from people who know what they are talking about. I think Google+ will give me the opportunity to find out what others are talking about, what they like, what they don’t, campaigns that are out at the moment and what innovations are coming down the line.

By using the “circles” feature I can sort out the streams of information I am seeing. I I am looking to see what fellow marketing professionals are saying I can. If I want to see what’s going on in the world of Video Games and what articles people are writing I can easily switch to that and not have to trawl through endless updates of “Oh no, my cat scratched my face and Champagne isn’t listening to me, she’s such a little madam lolz”.

I have seen a few bloggers asking if people will be bothered to sort their connections into specific “circles” and I can’t see why not. The system is easy to use and when you first join you can do it before you really get stuck in.

Google Plus Screen

To steal a line from Natalie Griffith who commented on a Google+ post of mine recently: “Having a targeted forum to knowledge share and discuss useful/interesting stuff with the ‘right’ people will be a huge plus, pardon the pun.” And that is the exact reason why I am hoping more people get on board with Google+ when it is eventually opened up.

Do you have any thoughts on Google+? Do you see many positives for the network or are you forseeing another flop in Googles social offerings? Comment below or speak to me on Twitter or Google+

PSN – What Sony Can Do.

So, as I’m sure we are all aware the Playstation Network has been hacked. A bunch of scumbags somewhere now have access to personal details of Sony’s users including name, DOB, purchase history and although Sony hasn’t confirmed it, credit card details.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on security so I can’t really comment but I can tell you my thoughts on the situation:

Am I that annoyed that the PS3 has been hacked? Not really. If someone wants to hack a system with enough perseverance and time I’m sure they will get their way in the end just look at security attacks on The Pentagon and NASA, companies are, at times, powerless to stop the attacks. But what Sony can control is how they handle this crisis (and it is just that, a crisis). So far Sony has taken 6 days to tell their customers that their personal details have been compromised, 6 days just isn’t good enough. Whilst we don’t have an inside track into what’s going on within Sony HQ we can take an educated guess that they knew this as early as Friday 22nd March considering some Credit card companies had been made aware then.

The backlash has already started, Fanboys of other consoles are already sticking the knife in to Sony on social networking sites and even users of Sony’s products are venting their frustrations. The story has also made headline news on the mainstream news outlets meaning uninformed people will start having an opinion on the matter, Sony’s stocks have dropped and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. So what can Sony do to help themselves in this situation? What will happen to the company and the Playstation Brand over the next few months? I’m here to have a guess.

To see my suggestions head to the full article at Death By Robots.

The King or The Jester

I love a good joke. On a friday night I can be frequently found watching a comedy show on TV. There is nothing like having a big belly laugh is there?

One of the games that use to induce tears of laughter when I was younger was Duke Nukem 3D. Some of Duke’s one liners have gone down in gaming history as the funniest of all time. It was the first time I had ever heard the phrase – “It’s time to kick-ass and chew bubblegum… and I’m all out of gum”. But that was 14 years ago, I was 10 years old.

My thoughts on the newest Duke Nukem game have changed from the first time I heard that Gearbox Studios had picked up the franchise and were actually going to finish and release the game. Originally I was extremely happy that one of my favourite games from back in the day was coming back for a proper sequel. Duke would be bringing his wise cracking egotistical self back to my screen! Gearbox played up to the joke of constant delays and that Duke Nukem Foreverwas finally going to see the light of day. I found that pretty funny and started looking forward to Duke’s return. That all changed a few weeks ago when I watched the latest video that was released featuring Randy Pitchford, Gearbox Studio’s President and Executive producer on the game poking fun at the fact that the game had been delayed again. It was obviously a publicity stunt to generate buzz for a game that was rapidly dropping off the radar of most gamers.

To read the rest of this article please head over to Death By Robots (Clicking will not open up a new page)

 

No More Heroes.

This is it, the end of an era…Yes, Guitar Hero is dead.

Activision announced on Wednesday that a couple of their franchises are being pulled, Guitar Hero being one of them. Isn’t it a shame that we won’t be seeing another Guitar Hero title this year?

Not Really…

I remember picking up Guitar Hero 3: Warriors of Rock a few of years ago after hearing some great things about it from friends. It took me a while to make the decision to purchase. At £75 it was a hefty outlay at the time when I should have been spending my money on something other than a miniature plastic guitar and the fact that I had never been much of a “Rock” music fan. But I handed over my hard earned cash and took home my new toy. I must admit I loved GH3, I got really into it, never to the length of buying new faceplates mind you, my guitar had a name (“The Bitch” – mature, I know), I’d have friends round for a bit of co-op and I even purchased a few new tracks online. But then the novelty wore off. Three months after purchase “The Bitch” was gathering dust in the corner of my room begging to be played with. The announcement of GH4 as a direct competitor to Rock Band with drums et al meant that my guitar was going to be out of date, I didn’t want to buy it all again, so GH3 and The Bitch got traded in…I won’t lie, I was gutted to be getting rid of it but I didn’t see how Activision were going to go any further forward with the games and entice me into spending any more money on the franchise.

Year after Year after Year...

So while I have some fond memories of GH3 in particular I was never very impressed with the constant flogging of the series. But then this seems to be the way that Activision does their business. Look at the Tony Hawk series. Tony Hawk 1 did better than expected in sales and was a pretty decent game; Tony Hawk 2 added some essentials, was well received by the critics and sold a lot. Then comes Tony Hawk 3 which is probably the best in the series after they refined the gameplay once again got great reviews and the money came rolling in…Then came the sequels and spinoffs year after year the quality of the titles diminished. The Tony Hawk franchise is pretty much dead and buried, another franchise flogged to death and cast aside.

It was inevitable that Guitar Hero would be cast aside, where else is there to go with the game? You can’t expect people to pay £80 plus every year because you have made an adjustment to the peripheral required to play the game. Wouldn’t the more sensible thing have been to release a game and give it a 2-3 year life cycle but release a steady stream of additional tracks for fans to purchase? Add in a few new characters and environments and this would have given the studio working on the sequel time to develop a proper sequel and maybe revolutionise the music game scene like Rock Band did before it. Now I don’t pretend to know what happens inside game studios, I’m a gamer, I’m not in the industry but it is pretty obvious that innovation and creativity is not the main priority for Activision. They need to get the games out in order to make their money and of course it’s not just Activision.

From talking to fellow gamers and reading around on forums people have reacted to the news saying how great the news is. While yes I’m glad I won’t be seeing another GH title on the shelves this autumn let’s remember there are people who have lost their jobs. There are probably some fantastic talents who will not be earning any money for a while. I hope these people find a place to go where they can flex those creative muscles of theirs and create something fresh, new and innovative.

Let’s look forward shall we? What about that mightiest of all cash cows – Call of Duty? With new iterations being churned out year after year surely it will eventually go the way of Guitar Hero? It all depends how much money the titles make. Let’s see how much the next title makes, if it doesn’t smash all known records (again) then people may start talking.

 

Call of Duty - Could this be the next franchise to be cast aside?

Although I’m glad to see the back of the franchise I will still look back with fondness at some of the great thing it managed to do. So here’s to Guitar Hero – The game that made grown men and women think they were a Rock star for just a moment, the game that made me forget I was just pressing coloured button on a plastic toy and most importantly…The game that introduced most of us to Dragon force.

GAME Selling Xbox Digital Content.

So, GAME has announced that they are to start selling Xbox Live digital content in store. Yes, that’s right DIGITAL content…IN STORE. Because that will work, won’t it?

I don’t think I know anyone who has gone into a video game store and purchased Microsoft points in there, I know I certainly haven’t. If I spot something on Xbox Live that I want to download and don’t have enough points in my account to buy it I top up in the comfort of my own home because isn’t that one biggest selling points of digital content – You don’t have to leave your house to purchase it?

I would have thought that the only people who will use this are parents who are buying for their children and not actual gamers themselves. Who knows? I may be completely off on this one. For Microsoft it is another place that their product can be sold.

It is interesting that GAME are going down this route though and to be honest it was only a matter of time. They have realised that they need to get in on the act of selling the digital content in order for them not to be left behind and see profits drop. More gamers are purchasing content online and could there be a time where more products are purchased directly through the consoles than physical units off a shelf? Will this work for them? I personally don’t think so, we shall wait and see.

On the back of this news though I am slightly concerned that we will start to see store space being given to rows of cards offering XBL games, add on content and clothes for your Xbox Avatars that this will mean even less exposure to games from smaller companies which at times are more innovative because they won’t be able to afford to pay for shop floor space for promotions.

So what say you? Have you ever purchased a card offline for online content? Is this a good thing or just a way of GAME to try and get profits up?

A Great Use Of Facebook?

So as a wrestling fan and a gamer I am pretty hyped for the next WWE video game, WWE All Stars. The strap line for the game is “2 Generations, 1 Ring” and this could be a game that brings in wrestling fans of the past generation.

It’s a clever move by THQ (the game makers). Their yearly WWE game “Smackdown Vs Raw” has seen sales drop for the 2011 version and wrestling isn’t as popular as it was in the early 2000’s. Appealing to the casual fan and fans that haven’t paid attention to the WWE since the 90’s is a great way to go. How many of you recognise the names below, and remember watching some of these guys do their thing 15 – 20 years ago:

  • Hulk Hogan
  • Macho Man Randy Savage
  • Andre The Giant
  • Bret The Hitman Hart
  • Ultimate Warrior
  • Ricky The Dragon Steamboat

Macho Man Randy Savage

There are more wrestlers from the past that are to be announced and it could be the names above that help THQ when they come to announce their Q3 financial figures. So using “legends” should help bring old WWE fans out to purchase the game.

Another thing that THQ have done with the game, instead of trying to turn it into a simulator like Smackdown Vs RAW it will have a more arcade feel to it. The character models are over the top, it’s bright, it’s colourful and from what I have read it sounds as if veteran gamers can go very in depth with the title but at the same time casual gamers can pick up and play easily. The moves are exagerated with the wrestlers flying up in the air whilst doing the moves, it really does look like a refreshing departure from the yearly Smackdown Vs RAW franchise

Andre The Giant

Friday also saw the launch of the WWE All Stars Facebook game – Fantasy Warfare. At the moment there is one match unlocked, two icons of their respective generation; Hulk Hogan Vs John Cena. A nice video plays combining real footage and gameplay footage talking up both men you then get to choose who you think would win in a match. The match up then starts using WWE All Stars game footage and at certain times you get to choose some moves for either of the characters to pull off. When the match has ended you are encouraged to share your choice with your Facebook Friends. Another incentive to share is that you will be entered into a prize draw to win a trip to Wrestlemania 27 in April in Atlanta, Georgia which, for any wrestling fan is a huge deal. Sharing also helps unlocks new matches to play and more game footage to watch.

In my opinion it’s a great use of Facebook to promote the product although my only issue with it is that the wall posts are quite wordy and could end up annoying some friends who see it on their news feed.

I urge you to have a look at the Facebook game, wrestling fan or not, gamer or not. See what you think. Is this a good use of Facebook to promote a game? If you were a wrestling fan back in the day would this tempt you in to purchase the game?

WWE All Stars - Fantasy Warfare

For more information on WWE All Stars go to the website, or follow some of the THQ guys on Twitter @THQ_Tank , @WWEgames , @stephensonmc

Dead Space 2 – Your Mum Hates It…

Look at the Promoted Trend today on Twitter and you will see #yourmomhatesthis . Any children seeing that would probably be tempted to click on it wouldn’t they? I mean, part of growing up is wanting to rebel against your parents. If Mum says no, you do the opposite. So using that as a way to sell something is a pretty clever idea.

Head over to www.yourmomhatesthis.com and you will see that it is in fact a site promoting the sale of a highly violent and bloody video game called Dead Space 2. As some of you may be aware I am a pretty keen gamer and usually I don’t have a problem with violent / bloody video games because they are aimed at the correct target audience (over 18’s usually) and while younger people will always get hold of these games at least the advertisers have been responsible by not actively aiming it at younger children.

The campaign is not something that is being aimed at the UK as the game does have a 18 certificate and in the US the game is rated as M. Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

The campaign is a few videos of a focus group that consists of middle aged and older women being asked to sit and watch some clips of Dead Space 2.Their reactions are filmed and then they do a little closing bit at the end saying how horrid the game is and why people shouldn’t play the game.

Dead Space 2 Artwork EA

Dead Space 2 Artwork

With the game being intended for over 17’s in the US is marketing it to them saying “your Mom hates this” the best route to go? They have the power to go in and buy it if they wanted to and their “Mom” couldn’t stop them. But if anyone under the age of 17 sees the ads then do you not think they would pressure their parents into buying the game for them? I know what it was like for me when the original Grand Theft Auto came out and I kept badgering my parents to get it for me, eventually they buckle and I’m playing a game that is not intended for me.

“It’s Revolting, It’s Violent, It’s everything you want in a game…And your Moms going to hate it” Is the line that is spoken in the trailer on the web page…That opens up a whole other issue that I could talk about for hours. That is not everything I want in a video game, innovation anyone!?

I have always been someone that has said it’s up to the parents to decide whether they want their children to watch films, play games or listen to music that is aimed at a higher age groups but I just feel that EA using this specific strapline just pushes it towards people who the game is not intended for and it’s a little irresponsible. No doubt it will make money for EA and all publicity is good publicity and at the end of the day that’s what counts but should their marketing campaign not be directed at the age of the people that the game is supposed to be for?

Do you have any thoughts on this campaign? Or do you know of any similar campaigns? Sound off below.