Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Selling? Game? What?

With this first post, I will simply try to explain the purpose of this blog and what one might expect to see within.

My main goal here is bringing together two big interests of mine: computer games and marketing. Oddly enough, I am an expert neither in one nor the other. Why then?

Why computer games?
Because they are fun and exciting. In the way that movies were exciting when cinema emerged. In the way that radio was exciting in the early days of wireless broadcasting. One might go on with this list, adding things like the classical theatre or even the advent of writing.

Simply put, video games are a new and revolutionary medium for artistic expression and storytelling, if not the most advanced one at our disposal. The potential for immersion, expression and interaction is almost limitless. Yet if so, why are we not already seeing content that rivals classical literary works? Why is it not dubbed the 8th Art (the number is negotiable) yet? How come one of the biggest companies in the industry owes its success to publishing the same sports games over and over again every year? How did we lose the values of originality and creativity, and ended up with 'tried and beaten to death formulas' like RTS, FPS, and whathaveyou?

Why marketing?
Because things are not as limitless as they seem. A video game is a commercial product like any other. It needs people to use it, play it. It has to meet a need, and it has to find the right person with the right need. Otherwise? It is meaningless. It does not sell and it does not get played. It gives its developers little reason and provides even less means to achieve consistency in creation of great new works.

Thus the future of the medium is largely determined by what is commercially successful. This is why we have been playing the endless iterations of the same soccer title for the last decade. Because it has found its niche, and its commercial fortunes are, more or less, predictable and safe for the business-mind.

On the other side of the spectrum we see games, developed with amazing talent and production value, which somehow fail to achieve a commercial success. The game 'Planescape: Torment' is probably the best example to this. Sadly, each consecutive failure of originality (aided by each consecutive commercial success of the tried and beaten-to-death) delays the medium from achieving its true potential.

So it is my vision and goal to find the grounds where profitability and quality (with originality and creativity being its primary metrics) do not have to be competing goals. As a MBA candidate and gamer who is trying to get into the industry, my goal in this blog is to explore the dynamics between the content and business sides of the medium. Hopefully my writings will help me (and possibly others) in framing, analyzing and solving this challenge.

In short:
The Selling Game - How to sell games that deserve to be played.