Saturday, February 15, 2014

Promoting Your Product - Commercials

 Before we begin...

(singing voice)  "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

To start things off, I certainly hope that everything is okay for those of you who have been anchored down because of the tough winter weather because we have endured quite an attack of arctic cold in recent times. Considering where I live, which would be in the Buckeye State of Ohio, the snow has been a heavy hitter and it sometimes reminds me of my favorite levels in some video games. Inspiration can come from anywhere and from any situation.

Anyway, the meat of this article will go into depth about one form of marketing for a video game. In the Video Game Industry the name of the game is to make money. That is one of the main goals of any game development team and when the wheels start spinning for the development of a game, the marketing starts kicking in at some point. Most games will have the opportunity to shine when it comes to showcasing what they can do and it will be up to the consumer whether or not he or she wants to buy that game. One part of the overall development experience is the PR, or public relations, side of the equation and it can be a pivotal slice of the pie. The game that you are putting out on the market has to stand out and appeal to consumers the moment you announce the upcoming release of your game The game is the carrot that you dangle over the gamer and the key is to make sure that that carrot is desirable for the gamer to get.

Television commercials, or in this day and age internet "e-mercials", represent one part of the PR slice and for some games these commercials can make or break them. The court of public opinion can be strong and the public needs to know what your product is about. Commercials for new video games will usually include general descriptions of the games while putting in enthusiastic and unorthodox twists in the action of the commercials. You have only a set amount of time to get the word out on your new game and you have to hit your target and send a clear message to your potential fan base.

What would you do exactly? What would be the overall tone of your commercial? What kind of game is your commercial revolving around? What is the theme you want to bring out in your commercial? What is the audience that you are targeting in your commercial? There are plenty of questions like these that you are going to have to answer and in just 30 seconds (or one minute, if you're fortunate) you will be able to put out the first looks of the development team's vision of the new game. This is basically considered an audition of sorts for your new game and the only way to make this audition memorable would be to make it entertaining. A video game commercial has to be entertaining and it has to grab the attention of the gamer, whether that its through quick stabs of comedy, abrupt flashes of seriousness or something upbeat and catchy that can make the gamer get up and dance.

A commercial for an upcoming should highlight the features of the game that deserve to be highlighted. The most important features of the new game have to be shown because these will be the features that the gamer will get to used to after he or she buys the game and starts playing it. The features of the new game that are shown in the commercial are the selling points and they will drive the sales of your new game in one direction or in the other. Development teams need to know what the people want and they need to understand what kind of features various types of gamers are looking to sink their teeth into. Not every single gamer's interests will be catered to and that is impossible given the wide range of video game genres, but whatever the development team is targeting they need to be aware of the audience they are making their specific genre of game for. In basic terms you need to know your territory. You need to know your territory well.

I can recall classic video game commercials that really appealed to me such as the old Crash Bandicoot commercials, the Nintendo 64 Super Mario commercials, a couple of Nintendo 64 Bomberman commercials and plenty of sports game commercials, and particularly Madden Football. I have general interests as a person and those general interests have nothing to do with video games, but if I catch sight of a video game commercial that not only appeals to my interests as a gamer but also to my general interests as a person in some way then it's a win-win situation. I generally like the idea of a cartoony character throwing bombs at objects and blowing them up (Bomberman). I generally like the idea of an energetic animal running through loops and bouncing off springs (Sonic the Hedgehog). I generally love watching sports (Madden, MVP Baseball, NHL Hockey, etc.) so I will more than likely buy at least a couple sports video games just to take in the sports experience.

When a commercial is made to promote your product, if you want to make your customers laugh, then put in some comedy that your audience can relate to. If you want to appeal to the goofy comedy kind of gamers then use goofy comedy. Allow your main character to pop his eyes out in surprise when something goes wrong in the commercial. Let there be humorous chaotic events happening in that short window of time. Goofy commercials usually have the freedom to be creative commercials.

If you want to make your commercials serious then make sure you keep it at a balance. There's reasonably serious and then there's over the top serious. You want your serious commercials to grab the attention of the consumers and make them say "Whoa... What I saw was just awesome!", but you don't want to overwhelm them. Doing too much in promoting can sometimes cost you plenty. You want to capture the feeling that your upcoming game is going to have but you don't want to force the issue. Consider the movie trailers and that right there is a blueprint to start with.

There is also the mysterious toned video game commercials which are rarely used unless for special reasons. It takes a certain amount of strategy to effectively pull off the mysterious commercial because you are met with the task of still sending the message of what your game is about, but you also have to cover other aspects of the new game. You want to reveal to your audience the general foundation of the new upcoming game but at the same time you want to keep your audience guessing. For example, the commercial will show only a few lines of text that could sway into different directions as to what the gamer is going to experience with this new game. You present a variety of options right off the bat with this strategy and you get gamers talking.

"Welcome to a little known paradise...

Where all appears to be well...

But eventually you'll come to see...

That nothing is what it appears to be!"

It's easy to build on lines like these in a commercial since the development team and the marketing team know what the exact context of the video game is. If we put the gamers in positions where they can playfully guess what the upcoming game is about while continuously sparking their curiosity along the way with more advertisements, a few hints and subtle revealings, then you can expect to make progress. You can expect to keep the buzz going if a commercial like this one is properly handled.

Above all else, and this is important, deliver on what you promise in your commercials. Whatever the content your upcoming game has stay true to that content and don't distance yourself from it. If you promote multiplayer action for the game then actually have it in the game. If you promote a wide variety of mini-games for the game then showcase mini-games. Honesty is the best policy and honesty is the best way to make a profit. Now let me leave you guys with a tagline spree of promoting for a fictional new game. Enjoy.

"In a world where everything is cliche and unimaginative...

One man aims to turn frowns upside down!

Prepare yourself for a nail-biting, heart-pounding adventure...

Filled with out of ordinary events and super cool plot twists!

Did we mention that we are gonna break the 4th wall? Yeah! We'll do that too!

Button mashers! This game's for you!

Unmundane: Escape From The Status Quo!  Coming out on Playstation 4!"

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