Marketing Computer Games

Computer games are big business these days exploited by many companies. A winning idea is one thing, selling that idea is another matter. At this stage the task of selling the game leaves the hands of the creators and is handed over to a marketing department. The first task of the marketer is to determine which age group the game will appeal to. Companies use a wide range of different techniques to sell their product. They use the aid of magazines, articles written by enthusiasts for readers with similar game interests. Rolling television based demos show off the visual and sound side of the game.

These days’ companies try to use other ways to market a game, for instance Lara Croft’. Lara is the main character in the series of Tomb Raider games and is the marketers dream. Globally, her appearance is indistinguishable. Her facial features sit on a face not a dissimilar colour to that of a Mediterranean person. Her dark eyes and hair make her look westernised, yet her small features make Lara look slightly Asian. Lara could be from any country making the game globally accepted from the start. Her clothes are tight and sparse so that would keep a young adolescent playing the game for a long time. Lara is often pictured in different positions, sometimes brandishing a handgun, showing assertiveness, sometimes looking innocent wearing little clothing showing a nice vulnerable side. The next minute she’ll be in a car chase being perused by a helicopter showing an action packed side. This creates a persona people can relate to: gun toting multilingual female that has sexual appeal’. That technique was very successful and has been incorporated recently by Lucozade and M&S in their advertisements.

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Magazine articles are another good selling point for a game that is new and in need of a cult following. A feature on Tomb Raider IV in Play Magazine features appealing selling material for everyone. The title, the first focal point of the article reads: EPISODE ONE’. Meanwhile in cinemas when this magazine was on the shelf, Star Wars Episode 1 was being shown in cinemas. As the whole youth population of the country was Star Wars mad, they needed no description of what a prequel was. For good measure, for non-Star Wars fans, lets do the time warp back to Tomb Raider IV’ was an equally imposing sub-headline, derived from a well-known pre-Star Wars song. The picture accompanying the article features a surprised Lara in her vulnerable startled deer’ expression – looking surprised and appealing to males. The article’s information features assumptions, as Eidos did not release much information. These assumption are made about Lara’s dark twin sister’ they relate this to the title dark revelation’. The magazine uses language like we’ extensively. This puts the reader on equal terms as the writer is, this is a good selling point as it shows that the game is the in’ thing. Proving that their full-page feature was not a waste of time, quotes from American game testers are shown, and as they are very impressed’ the reader is more likely to buy something that is not just an acquired taste but also a recognised masterpiece.

When companies take the marketing in their own hands, the marketing is aimed more at one group’ of people into that type of genre.Zelda: ocarina of time is a role-playing game, which requires a sizable amount of mental skill, but that is not to say that it needs to be shrouded in violence and gloominess – Quite the opposite. It bears colourful characters, cheerful repetitive music and bright colours. A peaceful atmosphere is created by these elements, and the storyline is described: a delightful Elf named Link needs to rescue Princess Zelda, at the point that objective is revealed the music and graphics become gloomier and moodier, more appealing to boys. The other object shown is for link to find his guardian Fairy. This cute’ objective could appeal to girls. In the dialogue it refers to the viewer: ‘you can help”. The elements used to sell this game are meant to apply to peaceful early teens that are not violent. The game could appeal to both sexes, as there are elements to interest boys and girls.

The game World Cup ’98 is generally intended for males, so all marketing skills used in the advert are aimed at males. To start off with, footballers are shown morphing’ into pixelised computer counterparts from an image of the original person. The music is the anthem of France ’98, which in this case goes well if a foreigner who would not be pleased by essentially English football chants viewed the advert. The chicken mascot is used; a gimmick to attract younger football fans to get this game. Much in game footage is shown so people can see what they are buying.

Final Fantasy VII is renowned for being long. It is spanned over three compact discs, whereas normal games just one. The storyline is highly complicated so rather than try to explain what is going on, cut scenes from the before and end of game play sequences are shown. It shows how complex the tale is and how impressive the game looks. The thrilling scenes are backed up by an equally impressive imposing music loop. FFVII would be appealing to a real seasoned computer game addict because of the time needed to get full use out of it, so that explains why the graphics and sound are shown to a high extent, so good seasoned judges can see how good they are.

K.K.N.D is another game showing non-in-game graphics but brings in another marketing element – mystery. It is based after a nuclear war on earth in the not too distant future. As one watches the demo you begin to think ‘why are the people a funny shape” and ‘they are big bugs”. Despite the colours, the music and sound affects depict something not being right. Some people like not being initially aware of what is going on in a game, judging by the characters it appears a violent game. Being a strategy game, along with violence, mystery is one of it’s appealing factors, so the marketers were probably instructed not to give away too much plot: a game appealing to thoughtful yet violent individuals.

From this I have achieved that as long as people are individual, the marketing techniques to sell them a product will be just as diverse. Just as liking a band comes into liking the music they make, liking the character of a game is just as important. Lara Croft has been successful in doing this and been a consistently good moneymaker for Eidos supplying them with over five popular games. Games like Zelda I think are marketed in the most consistent way as it gives a good impression of storyline, characters and how the game looks. It has been marketed in such a way, it has elements to be liked by all, unlike the loutish sounding’ World Cup 98, which stereotypes football fans in general. A successful game is something that can appeal to everyone. Tomb Raider is not too violent, has an attractive character, bears good game play and graphics. Games such as this were likely from the beginning to do well, I think with Tomb Raider the marketing of the game and associated products gave Lara Croft a human side that was successful with game players. This has proven one of the most successful techniques to market a game.