game marketing Posts

Intellivision to Facebook: Gaming grows up

I’ve never been a good video game player.

Dainis, my friend from down the street, used to beat me soundly at Donkey Kong. He seemed to glide to Level 8 with his eyes closed, while I hit a wall at Level 2.

My brother didn’t let up the punishment by thoroughly battering me in Astrosmash, Intellivision’s knock-off of the famed Asteroids. My late night practice sessions with Root Beer as a stimulant didn’t work.

Pac Man Fever used to drive me crazy.

In my youth, I made a decision to turn to ‘real-world’ sports; it was a playing field where I enjoyed some success. Instead of growling over a premature ‘game over’, I could sometimes celebrate a victory.

Being a marketer, ‘gaming’ has always stayed on my radar despite my lack of talent. You can’t ignore the ever-present role of games on-line whether it’s Facebook, Web sites, Playstation, Xbox or Nintendo.

The scale of the industry is mind-boggling. A few years ago in 2007, the industry sold 267.8 million games. That’s approximately 540 games sold every minute. Amazingly, this was before Mafia Wars, Angry Birds, FarmVille.

The other night I surprisingly had a few quiet moments and bumped into an intriguing online game titled, World Golf Tour. Being a closet golf junkie, I sidetracked the subscription offers, sampling the free golf.

The course selections, golf club options (no lob wedge) were limited for the free ‘user’. I even wanted to invite a friend onto the fairway, but this was a pay-only feature. That’s alright. It’s faster to play as a single.

As a business owner, marketer, product lead, can you bring this proclivity for gaming fun into your business?

1.       Can you set up levels of your service to make it tantalizingly obvious that the free experience just won’t satisfy anymore? I am quickly seeing how the ‘free’ World Golf Tour offer is setting the stage for a paid upgrade.

2.     Everyone wants to solve his problem (leaky faucet, slow computer, lack of new ideas for his business). Can you make the problem solver have fun in the process? When I customized my new computer or shopped for a car on-line by winnowing the options, I wasn’t mindlessly shopping, I was having fun.

3.       Isolate your audience. Sound harsh? The ‘game’ is when social happens. Can your software, service or business ‘unlock’ the community network only for premiere or paid users? Give your ‘freebies’ a peek, but they can’t sample the valuable, transformative goodies.

Next time I am home, I might have to rummage in the attic for 1983’s Intellivoice, one of the first game devices with a voice synthesizer. I still vividly remember the game B-17 Bomber commanding in a robotic voice, “Fighters, 3 o’clock.” Bombs away.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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