Saturday, October 10, 2009

Codemasters' EPIC FAIL

I don't review games on this blog. There are too many people out there doing that. I usually try to focus on what it means to have a well developed and well marketed game. However, it is worthy of mention when a game does the latter very good and fails colossally at the former, the way Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising seems to have pulled off.  But still I must admit the real reason I'm writing up this post is because of how bad I feel as a consumer who's been lured into buying their game. I feel so bad that it hurts. Also let me mention that my impressions are based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Let's talk marketing then. The concept is great: a military shooter that focuses on realism and atmosphere, summed up by the words "This is not a Rambo game." Great differentiation strategy there. So far so good.

They had a strong brand equity coming from the first title in the franchise, the original Flashpoint, which many people remember fondly. That's a great advantage which they have been able to use to their favor. Still good. 

Timing-wise, it was a great window to launch the game; just when people are bored to death by CoD: WaW, and Battlefield 1943, and just before the other strong titles (MW2, BF Bad Company 2) coming out. Even better.

Promotions were exceptionally done, focusing on all the mouth-watering features of the promised game. The constant stream of trailers and developer diaries did a lot to build up anticipaton, all the way to the release day. So all in all, it was great marketing... would you say?

This is why, I suppose, it sucks to be a marketer in the video game industry. Because the most essential component of marketing, namely customer satisfaction, is decoupled from the other functions of marketing departments. So when the game gets in the hands of the gamers and the rubber hits the road, when the horrors of a blatantly unfinished game at $60 bucks are unleashed on the naive and unsuspecting consumer, when all the promises are broken and it all adds up to an overwhelmingly bad customer experience, as a marketer I just grimace and think: this is actully horrible marketing and I know the "marketing department" couldn't have made a difference. Such is the sad state of marketing in this industry.

If you want to know what exactly is bad about the game, I recommend checking the official forum pages. There are more flames there than you could find on a particularly warm day in hell.

You just lost a brand loyal, Codemasters. And I have a feeling I'm not the only one.
Read more!