Category Archives: Practical Marketing

Marketing is the art of getting two sides happy: one with a brand new game, another one with pocket full of money.

Twitter Brings Traffic, So It Seems

Today I spotted that 9.6% of my site traffic comes from Twitter. I presume many people use it to track blog posts (instead of RSS). Not sure how many retweets there are, but I’ve seen some guys doing this.

I’ve been testing Twitter for month or two, and I kind of have mixed feelings about it.

On the other hand I feel like it’s one bloody big swamp – a time sink if you want. Even the guys who have interesting stuff to say, they seem to also have some unrelated stuff I don’t want to hear about (how strange is that). Of course that’s natural, and it’s pretty easy to skip one unrelated comment. But when the same guys make more “useless tweets” versus “useful tweets”, it’s time to think whether to follow that guy or not.

It becomes some sort of signal versus noise challenge.

Anyway, it seems that Twitter indeed brings traffic.

And… sometimes there’s something pretty useful too (in fact – something surprisingly fun stuff, since all happens so fast there).

Still haven’t made up my mind about the service… but meanwhile follow me and send me a message there, and I’ll follow you (as long as you have game/business related stuff in English).

What’s your thoughts about Twitter now?

How Not To Handle Discounts

There’s a nationwide game discount campaign going on at the Finland (peliale.fi). It’s pretty cool, but there’s one thing somebody messed up.

When you are having a huge discount campaign, it would make sense to actually supply the items

(This was taken from the konsolinet.fi – neat Finnish store by the way – and the red text after these games says “temporarily unavailable – more coming in 5-10 days”)

Of course with digital distribution things are better (as long as the servers are online).

I’ve Never Seen Players Whine This Much Over a Sequel

Left 4 Dead 2 is coming (trailer below). It’s pretty usual for companies to bring sequels (or expansion packs). Well, one Left 4 Dead community wasn’t too happy about this announcement. Check out that thread (but be warned, the language used there is like at least K38).

I don’t know how the L4D II will be like, so at this point I don’t know how different the sequel is going to be – but there’s some point in the fact that people think “this feels like an expansion pack”. (Tip: This is something for developers to think about when doing “sequels”.)

I look forward to seeing this game in action. Left 4 Dead (I) was one of the best action multiplayer games I’ve played, so looking forward to see if they have new tricks in their sleeves.

“Cheap, But Good!” (Yeah, Right)

Yesterday I got a pretty interesting pizza flier ad. The ad said “all pizzas 2.99 eur (3 ingredients, you need to fetch them home)”. Normal (similar) pizzas cost around 5-7 euros here (in Jyvaskyla, pizzas are pretty cheap by the way – there’s so many pizza bakeries here).

I was thinking that if pizza costs like 3 euros. And then there’s some sort of VAT (maybe close to 8% or something since it’s takeaway). That leaves 2.70 profit. Then there’s the salary of the pizza baker. And the building rent. Certainly those must account to some “eur per pizza”. And… we haven’t got into the ingredients yet. If there’s ham, chicken, tomatoes (for example) in that pizza – how much those ingredients can cost?

And, do they need to make some sort of profit per pizza?

With all this in mind, I just thought “whadda heck are they putting in those pizzas?”

“Cheap, but good” doesn’t really exist.

(“Indie friendly pricing” is of course a different story… right?)

Would you buy pizza for 3 eur (if normal price is 5-7 eur)?

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The “More The Same (But New)” Tactic – Battlefield 1943

I just heard about Battlefield 1943 (off-topic prediction: I bet battlefield1944.com, battlefield1945.com were immediately taken by some domainers…). It’s pretty interesting that I heard about it via twitter (and made a retweet) and it’s also interesting to see that there’s also the official BF 1943 twitter account. Big studios seem to be moving there too.

Anyway.

I loved Battlefield 1942. At one point it was almost like the greatest game ever. I played it a lot and enjoyed it a lot. Now I watched the Battlefield 1943 youtube video (see below) and the most obvious thing is that I can see loads of “same stuff”. I suspect there will be new stuff as well, and this probably is the proper way to go on. After all, people want “familiar but new stuff”.


(off-topic, I’m so changing my website layout as soon after Dead Wake is out. This wide format is messing things)

From that video, you can see trees falling due explosions (which is a new feature compared to previous games they published), and (of course) they’ve updated the graphics. More the same, but also something new. That’s pretty “easy” (and working) tactic indeed.

Don’t know how good the game will be, but I’ll be checking out it at some point.

Free And “Free”

Today I got a phone call which I knew was about selling magazines. For some unknown reason I thought I would listen to what the caller has to say (Usually I simply say “not interested, thanks” and hangup). First the caller asked me some questions where I needed to rate magazines either good or bad. I said this and thought what would come next (perhaps I wanted to see what sort of trick there was coming).

After that, the caller thanked me and said that he would like to give me 8 months free for any magazine of my choice. I said one of the magazines (Roope Ankka of course) and then the caller said that it would cost me only 4 months. I said that paying 38 euros (or whatever it was) was pretty expensive price to pay for a free magazine.

At that point I thought that “I’ve taken time to listen to you, replied to your questions, and you want to reward me by trying to sell something for me”? Of course I knew that this would happen, but still I think that this type of “marketing” (if you can call that marketing) gives bad image for all sorts of advertising. I personally don’t mind ads. In fact, I’d hope that those who deliver ads would know 110% of what I want and when I want it. It would be really cool if the ads I see would be totally tailored for me.

But… instead I get “free” offers (that end up costing bloody lot, and just waste everybody’s time). If you offer something free, then make it free. If you are giving a “free bonus”, then make sure that this bonus is indeed a free (and that normally nobody would get the bonus).

There’s a difference between “free” and free. Whenever companies try to insult us by trying to con us into buying, they are perhaps making more sales – but they are also giving a bad reputation for the whole industry.

It’s okay to offer me stuff to buy when I’m interested about it.

But it’s not okay to offer me to buy “free stuff”.

What’s Red And Smells Like Blue Paint?

This is a simple marketing (and also game design) tactic: by presenting a riddle you can grab people’s attention. Chances are that you are reading this sentence mainly because you saw the title of this post and wondered what the answer is. This is about presenting a riddle. This tactic is about asking questions instead of giving answers right away. Riddles can be used in marketing: by asking the audience whether they want to know the secret of something is a fine way to generate interest.

(Of course balance is needed)

Lost tv series asks much more questions than it presents answers. The first season was awesome, but after that people started to get tired of not getting any further with things: more and more questions appeared. (I still watch the series by the way) So, like everything in life, balance is needed.

In game design this same system can be used: instead of telling user a story, you can let show a mystery that reveals slowly… (or perhaps turns into a bigger mystery at some point).

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but we humans don’t really care. We are curious creatures. We want to see mysteries – and also answers to them at some point.

And like the marketing courses suggest: give people what they want.

(Oh, almost forgot. The answer is: “red paint”.)

One Way to Stand Out From the Crowd

One of the key concepts they preach in the world of marketing is that you gotta have unique offering. You gotta stand out from the crowd. Seth Godin points out that in the cattle of brown cows, the purple one gets spotted. Have something unique, something different to what anybody else does.

Well, this one guy sure has figured out a way to stand out. (Can you spot him from that thread?)

Hint: his forum nickname is hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz…

That guy gets remembered.

Sneaky Little Thing To Do With Newsletters (How to Get Complaint Rate Down)

I’ve been using Aweber newsletter for some time now and one thing I’ve experienced with my Dead Wake game mailing list has been that several newsletter readers have complained (in way of “why am I getting this email”) – according to Aweber.

These guys have subscribed to the Dead Wake mailing list and have got informed that they will get emails about new versions. Still, for some reason some percentage (for example 0.45%) complained about emails they received.

For the latest email, I did one tiny change. Earlier I had sent emails from “juuso’s deadwakegame.com email address”. Now I changed the sender to “Dead Wake Newsletter”. After this tiny change, the complaint numbers dropped to 0%.

Okay, I admit that this one test doesn’t tell everything… but it’s still by far the lowest complaint rate I’ve got, which is a sign about something good. I’ll test it and see what happens in the upcoming newsletter emails.

I wonder if I should do the same for the Game Producer mailing list…

Micropayments Are Good

I’ve been playing Savage 2 game for a bit, and I think these guys have really nailed how the whole “play online for free (but give your money to us little by little)” strategy should be done. Not sure if this is can be called ‘micropayment’, but at least their 5-10 buck payments are smaller than 20 buck games.

Their concept is really simple:

  • The game is free: it’s not trial. It’s not demo. It’s not “free download”. The game is free. Absolutely free. I think this is a terrific idea for spreading the game. People want free stuff, so why not give it to them.
  • People can pay for some stuff (that’s the catch): They are selling ‘premium accounts’ that give you some benefits (you can see more stats and get some extra perks – I think they could do bit better job saying what exactly all these benefits are). It cost like 10 bucks only. That’s again cheap.
  • People can pay for ‘items’ (that’s another catch): There are runes in the game, and if you spend 5 bucks, you can create yourself rune (or runes) that help your character a bit (like… give you more health or armor etc.). I find this terrific idea: it’s not ruining the game balance, but it’s very good offer for such a small price.

I think they could describe the benefits bit more clearly (so that the buyer really understands what he gets, and how many runes you get and so on), but I really like the concept. It doesn’t feel like ‘trial version’ (although I suppose that’s what it is by definition: feature limited version that you can play as long as you want). I suppose they have done good job hiding it.

That’s something worth checking out and learning.