ArticlePDF Available

How Are Modern Video Games Marketed?

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In this paper, common methods for the marketing of ‘AAA’ and ‘indie’ games are analysed in order to determine the extent to which video gamers consider them to be effective and trustworthy. Data was gathered through (1) an online survey that was distributed amongst online gaming communities and completed by 167 respondents; and, (2) a questionnaire that was completed by 37 respondents (who were computer games design students). The aims behind this project were as follows: (1) to determine the reasons why gamers may or may not purchase gaming platforms and multi-platform video games; and, (2) to measure the extent to which their friends influence their purchase decisions. It was discovered that friends and family were the most trusted video game marketing source amongst the gamers, and that their friends had a decisive impact on their console and multi-platform video game purchases.
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
How Are Modern Video Games Marketed?
Colin Charles Mathews
1
Nia Wearn
1
Accepted: 22 March 2016
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract In this paper, common methods for the marketing of ‘AAA’ and ‘indie’
games are analysed in order to determine the extent to which video gamers consider
them to be effective and trustworthy. Data was gathered through (1) an online survey
that was distributed amongst online gaming communities and completed by 167
respondents; and, (2) a questionnaire that was completed by 37 respondents (who
were computer games design students). The aims behind this project were as follows:
(1) to determine the reasons why gamers may or may not purchase gaming platforms
and multi-platform video games; and, (2) to measure the extent to which their friends
influence their purchase decisions. It was discovered that friends and family were the
most trusted video game marketing source amongst the gamers, and that their friends
had a decisive impact on their console and multi-platform video game purchases.
Keywords Video games marketing Digital marketing Indie AAA Fanboy
Video games Modern video games
1 Introduction
In 2014, the video games industry in the United Kingdom was worth £3.944bn (The
games industry in numbers, UKIE, 2014). Crossley (2010) reports that it can cost as
much as £12 million (GBP) to develop a new video game title. It is therefore
essential for video games companies to be able to market their products effectively.
The initial release window is but one point of sale for a new video game title, during
which publishers and developers must make the general public aware of their
product and drive sales. Several leading video games studios and publishers employ
&Colin Charles Mathews
ccmathews94@gmail.com
1
School of Art and Design (Games Design/Technology), Faculty of Arts and Creative
Technologies, Beacon Building, Beaconside, Stafford ST18 0AD, UK
123
Comput Game J
DOI 10.1007/s40869-016-0023-2
dedicated teams of marketing and PR specialists, and may also recruit external
contractors that specialise in video games marketing. The range of marketing
methods, especially in terms of digital marketing, has diversified in recent years.
2 Aims and Objectives
The aims of this project were (1) to explore contemporary methods used to market
video games, and (2) to evaluate their effectiveness among a sample of gamers.
These were accomplished via the following four objectives:
1. The differences and similarities between ‘AAA’ and ‘indie’ video games were
investigated by devising a custom framework. In this paper, these two game
categories are compared and contrasted.
2. Common marketing methods used to advertise both types of video game were
investigated. Information was sourced from games developers’ official websites,
and from social media web pages where such games were being promoted.
3. An online survey was distributed among AAA and indie video game players
who were members of video game groups on Facebook. (How many groups?
What were the names of these groups?) The purpose behind this survey was to
determine the kinds of marketing methods that gamers consider to be
trustworthy.
4. Questionnaires were distributed among university students who were enrolled
on a video games course. The students were asked to list the types of gaming
platforms and video game titles that they purchased, and to describe how their
friends influenced them into purchasing video game titles and platforms.
Another, more covert, purpose of the questionnaire was to determine if these
gamers exhibited ‘fanboy’ characteristics.
3 Definitions
3.1 AAA Games
‘AAA’ (or triple-A) is a classification term that is used within the video games
industry and the gaming community. The term refers to video game titles that
require a large production and marketing budget. An AAA video game is produced
by a dedicated and diverse development team. However, this is not a rigid
definition. Wong (2015) provides this definition of an AAA video game:
[It is] ‘a multi-million budget (sometimes billion dollar budget) production;
it is created by one of the prestigious studios; it is backed by its publisher with
full promotional efforts; it often is (but not necessarily) part of a successful
franchise; it is released in one of the game seasons (early in the year and
holiday season, surprisingly, summer wasn’t a big release season for games).’
Comput Game J
123
Daniels (2015) states that ‘AAA games are those with the highest budgets and
largest production teams’. Steinke (2014), owner of Digital DNA games, states that
AAA games ‘cost upwards of 100–200 million dollars and have teams of hundreds
of people often working across different continents’.
Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al. (2008) defines AAA games as ‘large scale commercial
games’, and claims that ‘it is not unusual for such games to involve 100 or more
developers’.
It is common practice for AAA video games development to be spread across
several studios, as was the case with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Ubisoft 2015).
According to Maxine (Maxime 2016), a former Ubisoft technical architect,
Syndicate was created with the collaboration of about ten studios in the world. This
is 24-hour, non-stop development. When people go to sleep in one studio, it’s
morning in another one.’ The term ‘AAA’ is often derided in favour of the term ‘big
budget,’ but the two relate to the same type of video game.
3.2 Indie Games
In contrast with AAA video games, there is no set definition of an ‘indie’ developer
or video game; definitions differ from person to person. The definition of an indie
video game is a contentious issue among developers. There is a consensus that the
term ‘indie’ is a contraction of the words ‘independent developer’, which is used to
describe a video game that is developed by an individual, or by a studio with a small
number of developers; such a game is an independently owned property that is
created without a large amount of financial backing or oversight from a publisher.
‘Indie’ developers are often able to pursue passion projects or experiment with
different ideas without the supervision of a publisher and with little risk of financial
failure. Boyd (2012), co-developer of Cthulhu Saves the World (Zeboyd Games
2010) said that an indie developer is ‘‘an individual or small group that is not
owned by another company that makes games. An indie game is a game made by an
indie developer, simple as that.’’ Adam Saltman (2012), developer of Canabalt
(2009), expressed a similar opinion:
‘Indie does specifically mean small budgets, teams of maybe one to four
peopleworking on strange and exploratory passion projects. An indie game
is a project that is the sole product of a passionate creator, and one that’s
unfettered by outside forces. To me, an ‘indie game’ is just a game where the
game makers didn’t have to make compromises for anybody. They put their
audience/work/ego first, they made something interesting and meaningful, and
the audience can see the kind of personal touch of an amateur in there -
whatever that might mean for games.’
Unlike video games that are classified as ‘AAA’, ‘indie’ titles are often developed
by much smaller teams. For example, No Man’s Sky is currently being developed
and published by Hello Games, which comprises a team of only 15 people (Hello
Games 2016). However, some video games can still be supported by a publisher and
classed as ‘indie’. ADR1FT (505 Games, 2016) is one such example. Studio Three
One Zero (2015) describe themselves as ‘‘an independent video game and digital
Comput Game J
123
entertainment studio’’ with the backing of publisher, 505 Games. Often a publisher
can provide financial and marketing support to an indie video game title.
Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al. (2008) describe ‘indie’ games as ‘low budget games
produced outside of the system of big publishers’, and claim that ‘indie games are
regarded with much enthusiasm by the game developer community who sees the
inflated productions (of AAA video games) as a potential threat to the creativity and
innovation of the industry’.
However, Stern (2012) disagrees with some of the mainstream definitions of
indie video games. He asserts that they are not always produced using a small
budget; they are not all owned and developed by independent developers; they are
not always innovative; and, they are not always produced ‘out of love’ or in ‘the
indie spirit’. He provides a more specific definition that does not contain
contradictions: ‘A game that is both (a) developed to completion without any
publisher or licensor interference, and (b) created by a single developer or a small
team.’
3.3 Fanboy
The term ‘fanboy’ is common parlance within the gaming community, and is
usually an insult. (Although the term ‘fangirl’ can be used to describe female
gamers, in this paper the term ‘fanboy’ refers to both male and female gamers). A
‘fanboy’ is most often described as a gamer who will defend his or her chosen
brand, console, game, product or game developer blindly and without thought, and
will not examine or consider anyone’s criticism of these brands, products or
producers (Meixsell 2013).
According to Meixsell,
[the term is] used to describe an individual that has gone beyond the point
of being a console game fan and, during online chats or discussions, shifts to
defend the program at all costs, unable to take any criticism or acknowledge
any shortcomings of the game or gaming console[such a person is] over-
enthusiastic to the point of losing all subjectivityfanboys are often
[considered by gamers to be] annoying
Brian Ashcraft (2010) states that fanboys are, ‘these diehards [who] blindly love a
product or that toe the corporate linetheir feelings toward a certain console can be
irrational. These are the folks who get worked up whenever their machine is
attacked.’
4 Methodologies
4.1 Custom Framework
A custom framework was created so that AAA and indie games could be properly
defined. The framework is composed of 7 different traits commonly found in AAA
video games. The official EGX website was used as a benchmark as it categorises
Comput Game J
123
industry-recognized video games into AAA and indie games. A number of modern
video games were examined, including Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (Activision 2015),
Destiny (Activision, 2015), FIFA 16 (EA, 2015), Halo 5: Guardians (Microsoft
Studios, 2015) Just Cause 3 (Square Enix, 2015), Mirrors Edge Catalyst (EA,
2016), and Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo, 2014). Traits common to these games were
noted and then assembled into the framework.
4.2 Marketing Techniques
4.2.1 Online Survey
The most common marketing methods used to promote AAA and indie video games
were then investigated.
This was achieved by visiting the following video games and publishers official
websites, and noting which methods of marketing they were using (Table 1).
An online survey was then created. The purpose of the online survey was to find
out which sources of information gamers consult before they purchase a video
game. An online survey was distributed via Facebook to the following video games
groups:
Staffordshire University Video Game Society
Staffordshire University Current Games Tech Students
Staffordshire University 2015/16 Junior/Senior Collaborative Games
Development
Indie Game Developers
Indie Game Promo
Table 1 List of video games
company websites Website description Type
Official EGX Rezzed website Expo
Official Mirrors Edge Catalyst website Video game
ADR1FT website Video game
505 Games website Publisher
EA Games website Publisher
Ubisoft website Publisher
Official E3 website Expo
Official No Mans Sky website Video game
Official Iron Fish website Video game
Official Assassin’s Creed website Video game
Official Call of Duty website Video game
Official Unbox website Video game
Official Fallout website Video game
Official Star Wars Battlefront website Video game
Comput Game J
123
Respondents were asked to rank the trustworthiness of information on video games
on the following marketing channels:
Friends and family.
Youtubers.
Social media (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram).
Dedicated gaming websites (including Kotaku, IGN, Gamespot, Giant Bomb).
Dedicated gaming magazines (including Gamesmaster, Official Xbox Magazine,
EDGE).
TV adverts (such as gameplay trailers, TV spots and console TV advertisments).
Developers’ official websites; and
Gaming expos (such as E3, EGX Rezzed, and UK Games Expo).
Respondents had to answer these two questions
How does each source compare with the other sources?
Which source is most/least trusted?
Participants were asked to rate eight different video game marketing methods by
giving them ratings of between 1 and 10: a method considered to be completely
untrustworthy was given a score of 1, and a method considered to be completely
trustworthy was given a score of 10.
Marketing channels that were given ratings of between 1 and 5 were generally
considered to be untrustworthy, and those that were given ratings of between 6 and
10 were considered to be trustworthy. For the sake of brevity, for each marketing
source the total numbers of respondents who (1) gave ratings of between 1 and 5,
and (2) who gave ratings of between 6 and 10 ratings were then converted into
percentages.
An assumption was made that if a person was a member of a video games group
on Facebook, then he or she was likely to be a developer or player of video games
with a vested interest in the videogames industry. The survey was posted on these
groups’ pages from 1 October 2015 to 1 December 2015, during which there were
167 online responses. The data that was gathered was stored virtually in the cloud
via Google Forms. Responses were downloaded and converted into graphs and
charts.
5 Questionnaire
The purpose of this paper-based questionnaire was to find out how gamers purchase
multi-platform video games for video game consoles. This questionnaire was
distributed among video games design students who were enrolled at Staffordshire
University on two separate occasions. There were a total of 37 responses.
Respondents provided answers to the following questions
Q—Which console platforms do you own?
Comput Game J
123
Q—Why did you purchase that particular platform?
Q—Does the fact that your friends own a particular platform influence you to
purchase that platform as well?
Q—Were there any other factors that influenced your decision to purchase that
platform?
Q—Are you planning on purchasing any multi-platform video games in the next
12 months, and if so, which ones?
Q—Does the fact that your friends own a particular multi-platform video game
influence make you want to purchase that video game as well?
The questionnaire contained a total of nine questions. A hidden purpose of the
questionnaire was to determine if there were any fanboy-like tendencies in the
respondents (although they were not directly asked to state whether they considered
themselves to be fanboys). It was anticipated that such tendencies might surface in
respondents’ answers in an almost subliminal way. Respondents had to provide
detailed answers to six of the nine questions; they only had to tick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to
the other 3 questions.
The first focus group was held during a League of Legends (Riot, 2009) viewing
party at Staffordshire University on October 31st 2015, during when 15 responses
were collected from dedicated gamers. The other 22 responses were gathered during
a student video game development module session at Staffordshire University on
Tuesday 3rd November: those 22 respondents were second and final year games
design students. Another assumption made was that because those students were
developing their own video games as part of a video game design-based course, they
would be active gamers. An online version of the questionnaire was created as an
online Google form, and the responses were then individually submitted to this form
for storage online via the cloud. The data was then converted into graphs and charts.
6 Discussion and Analysis
6.1 Online Survey Results
The ratings of marketing channels by the 167 respondents are generalized in
Table 2. For each marketing channel, the numbers of respondents who gave a score
of 1 or a score of 10 are also shown. Detailed histograms of the respondents’ scores
for each marketing channel are provided in Fig. 1a–h; for each score, the numbers
and percentages of respondents are listed in Table 3.
In general, the respondents placed the most trust in friends and family, and the
least trust in TV adverts. 24 respondents (around 15 %) placed complete trust in
family and friends (gave a score of 10); nearly 90 % of respondents gave a score of
between 6 and 10; and only three respondents said they placed no trust in family or
friends. TV adverts were the least trusted source: 44 respondents gave this a score of
1 (the highest number to do so), and 83 % of them gave TV adverts a score of
between 1 and 5.
Comput Game J
123
There were three other marketing channels for which nobody gave a score of 10:
social media, gaming websites, and gaming magazines. Few such scores were given
to Youtubers, games developers’ websites and game expos (1, 3, and 4,
respectively). Friends and family was the only marketing channel for which a
large number of respondents gave a score of 10.
By contrast, the proportions of respondents who gave scores of between 1 and 5
varied considerably among the marketing channels: slightly over 10 % of
respondents gave family and friends a score of between 1 and 5; whereas over
83 % of respondents gave TV adverts a score of between 1 and 5. In general, friends
and family was the most trusted source, Youtubers was the second-most, gaming
expos the third-most, gaming magazines the fourth-most, developers’ websites the
fifth-most, gaming websites the sixth-most, and social media the seventh-most. The
proportions of respondents who generally trusted gaming magazines and distrusted
gaming magazines were similar (45.4 and 54.6 %, respectively). For gaming
websites, the proportions were nearly equal (48.5 and 51.5 %, respectively). The
proportion of respondents who distrusted social media was nearly the same as the
proportion who distrusted developers’ official websites (64.3 and 67.4 %,
respectively).
Flore
`s and Flores (2013) also conducted a survey, and reported that ‘word of
mouth (friends and family) is the most influential touchpoint on all product
categories’ and that ‘social network contact points never appear among the leading
group of preferred touchpoints—word of mouth, experts, and the brands’ websites
are the most favoured touchpoints’. It is clearly evident from the results in Table 1
that nearly all the respondents in this online survey placed their trust in advice given
Table 2 Rankings of marketing channels by respondents who completed the online survey
Source Proportion of
respondents who
gave scores of 1–5
(%)
Proportion of
respondents who
gave scores of 6–10
(%)
Number of
respondents who
gave a score of 1
Number of
respondents who
gave a score of 10
Friends and
family
10.8 89.2 3 24
Youtubers 30.6 69.4 11 1
Social media 64.3 35.7 25 0
Gaming
websites
51.5 48.5 20 0
Gaming
magazines
54.6 45.4 18 0
TV adverts 83.4 16.6 44 0
Games
developers’
websites
67.4 32.6 20 4
Gaming
expos
42.9 57.1 17 3
Comput Game J
123
by their friends and families. Word-of-mouth marketing is not paid for by
companies producing and selling products, and yet it can be more effective than
organized, technology-based marketing campaigns.
Prior to the online survey, it was anticipated that respondents might still be
heavily influenced by offline branding, namely TV adverts. However, the results in
Table 1suggest otherwise. A large majority of respondents gave TV adverts low
scores, and favoured marketing information from Youtubers. It could be that
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions of family and friends?'
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions of Youtubers?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust
social media promotions?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions on dedicated gaming
websites?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions in gaming magazines?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust
video game adverts on TV?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions on game developers'
websites?'
0
10
20
30
40
50
'How much do you trust the
opinions spoken at gaming
expos?'
0
ab
cd
ef
gh
Fig. 1 a Scores for friends and family (numbers of respondents), bscores for Youtubers (numbers of
respondents), cscores for social media (numbers of respondents), dscores for gaming websites (numbers
of respondents), escores for magazines (numbers of respondents), fscores for TV adverts (numbers of
respondents), gscores for games developers’ websites (numbers of respondents), hscores for gaming
expos (numbers of respondents)
Comput Game J
123
marketing via Youtube is more effective, and that this kind of marketing may
eventually supplant TV advertising.
According to Kaufman and Horton (2014), ‘90 % of consumers would
recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media83 %
of consumers’ user reviews often or sometimes impact their purchasing decisions.’
According to the Crop Touchpoints Study (2010), ‘Social networks are the preferred
means of discovery for nearly a third of Americans.’
6.2 Questionnaire Results
The numbers of respondents owning different video game platforms are provided in
Table 4. The large majority of them used PCs. This was not the case with any other
Table 3 Ratings of marketing channels—numbers, percentages of respondents (respectively)
Marketing
channels
Score (1 =do not trust at all, 10 =completely trust)
12345678910
Friends and
family
3, 1.8 2, 1.2 2, 1.2 1, 0.6 10,
6.0
13,
7.8
23,
13.9
43,
25.9
45,
27.1
24,
14.5
Youtubers 11,
6.6
4, 2.4 8, 4.8 9, 5.4 19,
11.4
25,
15.1
34,
20.5
37,
22.3
18,
10.8
1, 0.6
Social media 25,
15.2
11,
6.7
23,
13.9
16,
9.7
31,
18.8
28,
17.0
15,
9.1
13,
7.9
3, 1.8 0, 0.0
Gaming
websites
20,
12.1
11,
6.7
24,
14.5
15,
9.1
15,
9.1
22,
13.3
28,
17.0
17,
10.3
13,
7.9
0, 0.0
Gaming
magazines
18,
11.2
6, 3.7 25,
15.5
15,
9.3
24,
14.9
31,
19.3
21,
13.0
19,
11.8
2, 1.2 0, 0.0
TV adverts 44,
26.8
23,
14.0
32,
19.5
23,
14.0
15,
9.1
10,
6.1
7, 4.3 9, 5.5 1, 0.6 0, 0.0
Games
developers’
websites
20,
12.0
10,
6.0
23,
13.9
19,
11.4
40,
24.1
16,
9.6
16,
9.6
15,
9.0
3, 1.8 4, 2.4
Gaming expos 17,
10.4
14,
8.6
9, 5.5 7, 4.3 23,
14.1
34,
20.9
22,
13.5
22,
13.5
12,
7.4
3, 1.8
Table 4 Numbers of
respondents using different
video game platforms
Platform(s) Number of respondents
PC 33
Xbox 1 7
Playstation 4 11
Wii U 3
PC and Xbox 1 7
PC and Playstation 4 15
Other 15
No home console 15
Comput Game J
123
platform: only 15 respondents said they used a PlayStation 4 platform connected to
a PC, and only 11 of them said they used a Playstation 4 platform; 15 of them said
they used other platforms such as 7th generation consoles, or handheld and mobile
devices; 15 said that they had no home console. Very few used the Xbox One or the
Wii U.
None of the respondents said they owned two or more different consoles plus a
PC; and less than half of the respondents said that they owned one console plus a
PC. The reason for this may be that the cost of owning a PC plus one or more video
game consoles is too high for these students.
The respondents were asked to explain why they chose to purchase video game
platforms. 23 of them said that they were most likely to purchase a console was
when it was being offered along with a selection of free video games. Respondents
were also asked if there were any factors that dissuaded them from purchasing a new
console or gaming platform. Several of them cited lack of funds. It is important to
note that all 37 respondents were students, many of whom were not in any form of
employment and had no sources of income student loans. Had the respondents been
in full-time employment, a very different pattern may have been found.
The numbers and percentages of respondents who said they were planning to
purchase video game titles are listed in Table 5. Nearly 75 % of respondents stated
that they were planning to purchase a multi-platform game. This may reflect the fact
that the majority of releases in 2015 and 2016 are multi-platform titles, with the
exception of exclusive titles such as Uncharted 4 (Sony Computer Entertainment,
2016) and Quantum Break (Microsoft Studios, 2016). Respondents said they were
planning to buy new releases including FIFA (EA, 2015) Call of Duty Black Ops 3
(Activision, 2015), Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Ubisoft, 2015), Fallout 4
(Bethesda, 2015) and Star Wars: Battlefront (EA, 2015). Respondents did not list
any other games that they were planning to purchase. The second-most popular title
was Fallout 4 (Bethesda, 2015) (which 61 % of respondents said they wanted to
purchase), and the most popular title was Star Wars Battlefront (which 65 % said
they planned to buy). Despite the small sample size, this alone is a testament to the
enduring popularity of the Fallout and Star Wars brands. Fallout 4 (Bethesda 2015)
Table 5 Numbers and percentages of respondents planning to purchase video games titles
Multi-platform video game
title
Number of respondents planning to purchase the video
game
%of
respondents
Fallout 4 17 60.7
Star wars: battlefront 18 64.3
FIFA/other yearly sports
title
5 17.9
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 6 21.4
Assassin’s Creed 3 2 7.1
Tom Clancy’s The Division 1 3.6
Dark Souls 3 1 3.6
Other 5 17.9
Comput Game J
123
has been a hotly anticipated title, and was scheduled for release only a few months
after the first announcement. A pre-order edition that included a model of the in-
game Pip-boy only served to heighten the excitement of gamers. Star Wars:
Battlefront (EA, 2015) was set to be released nearly at the same time as the premiere
of the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(Abrams, 2015). By comparison, only 21 % of respondents said they were going to
purchase Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (Activision 2015).
The most interesting finding from this questionnaire was the extent to which the
respondents’ friends influenced their purchasing decisions. Nearly three quarters of
respondents said that if their friends owned a particular video games platform, then
they felt persuaded to buy that platform as well (Fig. 2a). Over half of the
respondents stated that if their friends had purchased a copy of a multi-platform
game for a platform (which in turn they themselves own), then they felt persuaded
to to purchase that game as well (Fig. 2b). However, this second question only
covers multi-platform games and not any upcoming exclusive titles.
This data might indicate that many of the respondents enjoyed socialising by
playing video games with their friends using the same console, and that they enjoy
the fact that everyone in their social circles owns the same console. These gamers
value being part of a social ‘tribe’ and socialising with their friends online. They
probably do not wish to ‘go against the grain’ by purchasing a different console and
thereby excluding themselves from the ‘tribe’, although that cannot be proved in
this paper. It is worth noting that a smaller proportion of respondents said that their
friends influenced them into buying the same video game. This might be an
indication that for the respondents, social interaction and belonging is more
important than playing the same games.
6.3 Fanboys
Several respondents submitted a range of individual comments that exhibited
‘fanboy’-like behaviour, and many of those were related to consoles. Here is a
selection:
Fig. 2 Percentages of
respondents influenced by
friends when purchasing new
video game consoles and multi-
platform video games
Comput Game J
123
‘I’ve had an Xbox since it came out and I love Halo’, ‘PS4 brand loyalty and
had every PS before’, ‘It’s just better’, ‘Xbox One because of brand loyalty’,
‘Always been a fan of PlayStation’, ‘Always followed Sony platforms’, and
‘Fanboy of Xbox, always had an Xbox’.
One common trait that can be observed from these comments is the fact that none
of these gamers gave any real justification or reasoning for choosing one brand of
gaming platform over another. From the data gathered, it might be assumed that
most of these fanboys simply purchased a console based on the fact that they had
brand loyalty or had always been a fan of that brand. This is a hallmark of a fanboy,
and seems to align with the popularized image that is perpetuated by gamers and the
media. Around 20 % of the comments obtained were evidently written by fanboys.
The majority of the respondents may not be fanboys in the traditional sense.
However, it would be untrue to state that other kinds of fanboy do not exist, or that
gamers’ purchasing decisions are not entirely ruled by their loyalty to a particular
brand (but more by loyalty to their friends). It is likely that the primary factors that
accelerate a gamer towards making a purchasing decision are (1) what his or her
friends are playing, (2) what platform they are playing it on, and (3) their opinions
of a certain video game or console. A similar assertion was made by Thorin
Klosowski (2013):
‘When you’re part of a group, you’re more likely to sympathize and treat other
members of the group with rewards. Essentially, it helps you define ‘‘us’’ and
‘them,’’ which our brain likes to do.’
Klosowski argues that conforming with others in a specific social circle, whether
that be gaming related or otherwise, is something that the human brain is
intrinsically wired to do, and that one is more likely to sympathise with those that
have the same viewpoint. Ergo if someone enjoys the same console brand as
someone else then he or she is more likely to want to belong to the same social tribe.
Klosowski mentions another reason why some gamers may exhibit fanboy-like
behaviour – a financial one:
‘Cost plays into fanboyism for a simple reason: the cost to switch from one
thing to another is often obnoxiously high. You can’t just jump ship from the
PS3 to the Xbox and keep your library of gamesIt’s horrible and since
you’ve already spent so much money on the product you have right now, the
last thing you want to do is spend more money to purchase those things again.
So, your brain defends your platform and you inadvertently become a fanboy.’
As previously mentioned, none of the respondents said they owned a PC plus two
8th generation consoles, and only around half of respondents said they owned an 8th
generation console. The respondents admitted that they could not buy more consoles
owing to lack of funds.
Comput Game J
123
7 Conclusion
In this paper, the definitions ‘AAA’, ‘indie’ and ‘fanboy’, which are common
parlance among video games developers and players, have been discussed; and the
most common video game marketing methods have been identified. This paper
contains the results of an online survey, in which respondents were asked to
evaluate the extent to which they trusted information on video games delivered
through different marketing channels. This paper also contains the results of a
questionnaire, in which respondents were asked to list what platforms they owned,
and to describe what influenced their purchasing decisions.
According to the results of the online survey, gamers tend to regard friends and
family as by far the most effective and trustworthy source of marketing information;
whereas TV adverts are widely distrusted (perhaps an indication of the declining
power of that traditional marketing medium). A surprising result from the online
survey is that few of the respondents placed much trust in marketing information on
social media.
According to the results of the questionnaire, about three quarters of the
respondents said that they would buy a video games platform if their friends
possessed one, and slightly over half of the respondents said that they would buy a
video game if their friends already had a copy of that same game. It was also evident
that many of the respondents possessed fanboy tendencies—although this is difficult
to prove, since many gamers would be in denial if they were asked directly whether
or not they are fanboys.
This paper has some useful insights for video games companies and their
marketing teams. If advertisers promoting a video game cannot convince a person’s
family and friends, than that person is unlikely to go out and buy a copy of the
game. The question remains: How can games developers and publishers persuade
gamers to purchase their products if they have little control over the best source of
marketing? What can they do to ignite word-of-mouth promotion of a new video
games title? It is known that leading companies rely on goodwill, reputation, and
good rapport with existing customers. In addition to the quality of their products and
the strength of a brand to influence the perceptions of friends, especially those
within a social ‘tribe’. Companies can advertise their product effectively, have an
exciting product and an ironclad reputation, but a true success of a product hinges
on acceptance by the ‘tribe’.
References
Publications
Ashcraft, B. (2010) The Making of a Video Game Fanboy. Kotaku [ONLINE]. http://kotaku.com/
5499012/the-making-of-a-video-game-fanboy. Accessed 20 January 16.
Boyd, Robert. (2012) What is Indie? http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-04-16-what-is-indie.
Accessed: 28 January 2016.
Crossley, R. (2010) Study: Average dev costs as high as $28 m. http://www.develop-online.net/news/
study-average-dev-costs-as-high-as-28m/0106030. Accessed 7 February 2016.
Comput Game J
123
Daniels, S. (2015) Big budget games are a dying breed. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/aaa-games-are-
crumbling-under-their-huge-budgets. Accessed 28 January 2016.
Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., Smith, J. H., Tosca, S. P., & Egenfeldt-Niels, J. H. S. (2008). Understanding video
games: The essential introduction. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Flore
`s, L., & Flores, L. (2013). How to measure digital marketing: Metrics for assessing impact and
designing success. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hello Games (2016) About us. http://www.hellogames.org/about-us/. Accessed: 16 February 2016.
Kaufman, I., & Horton, C. (2014) Digital marketing: Integrating strategy and tactics with values, a
guidebook for executives. United Kingdom: Routledge.
Klosowski, T. 2013. The Psychology of a Fanboy: Why You Keep Buying the Same Stuff. [Online].
http://lifehacker.com/the-psychology-of-a-fanboy-why-you-keep-buying-the-sam-1300451596.
Accessed 20 January 2016.
Maxime, B. (2016) Why I quit my dream job at Ubisoft. http://gingearstudio.com/why-i-quit-my-dream-
job-at-ubisoft. Accessed 28 January 2016.
Meixsell, J. (2013) Understanding ‘fanboyism’: An overused and misconstrued term. http://venturebeat.
com/community/2013/08/22/understanding-fanboy-ism-an-overused-and-misconstrued-term/.
Accessed 10 February 2016.
Saltman, A (2012) What is indie? http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-04-16-what-is-indie. Accessed
28 January 2016.
Stern, C. (2012) What makes a game indie: A universal definition. http://sinisterdesign.net/what-makes-a-
game-indie-a-universal-definition/. Accessed 28 January 2016.
Steinke, T. (2014) Vicarious visions/activision—Albany, New York, United States [01.28.16] Software
engineer. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ThomasSteinke/20140119/208905/What_TripleA_
Developers_Could_Learn_From_Indies.php. Accessed 28 January 2016.
The Crop Touchpoints Survey–Mastering the Communication Mix. www.crop.ca/sondages/pdf/2010/
Touchpoint_article01.pdf.
Wong, F. (2015) Top stories. https://www.quora.com/What-does-AAA-mean-in-AAA-title-game.
Accessed 28 January 2016.
Films and Ludology
ADR1FT, 2016, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 505 Games, Italy.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. (2015). Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4. Ubisoft: Xbox One.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III, 2015, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation
3, Activision, US.
Canabalt, 2009, Flash, IOS, PSP, Android, Semi-Secrect Software, Kittehface Software, BeatShapers,
US, Ukraine.
Chtulu Saves the World, 2010, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Zeboyd Games, US.
Destiny, 2014, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Activision, US.
Fallout 4, 2015, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Bethesda, US.
FIFA 16, 2015, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Android, IOS,
EA Sports, Canada.
Halo 5: Guardians, 2015, Xbox One, 343 Industries, Microsoft Studios, US.
Just Cause 3, 2015, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Square Enix, Japan.
League of Legends. (2009). Microsoft Windows. US: Riot Games.
Mario Kart 8, 2014, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo, Japan.
Break, Quantum. (2016). Xbox One. US: Microsoft Studios.
Star Wars Battlefront. (2015). Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One. US: Electronic Arts.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Directed by J. J. Abrams [Film]. US: Walt Disney Studios Motion
Pictures.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, 2016, PlayStation 4, Sony Computer Entertainment, Japan.
Comput Game J
123
... Berdasarkan tipe produksinya, video game dapat dikategorikan sebagai produksi "AAA" (dibaca sebagai "triple-A") atau "indie" (merupakan singkatan dari kata independent) (Mathews & Wearn, 2016). Wong dalam Mathews (2016) menjelaskan bahwa AAA Mochamad Yudha Febrianta, Sri Widiyanesti, Syahrul Robbiansyah Ramadhan Analisis Ulasan Indie Video Game Lokal pada Steam Menggunakan Analisis Sentimen dan Pemodelan Topik Berbasis Latent Dirichlet Allocation 120 adalah produksi video game yang memiliki anggaran bernilai jutaan Dollar Amerika Serikat dan dihasilkan oleh video game developer (pengembang video game) ternama yang didukung oleh publisher (penerbit) perihal pemasaran dan promosinya yang berskala besar. ...
... Berdasarkan tipe produksinya, video game dapat dikategorikan sebagai produksi "AAA" (dibaca sebagai "triple-A") atau "indie" (merupakan singkatan dari kata independent) (Mathews & Wearn, 2016). Wong dalam Mathews (2016) menjelaskan bahwa AAA Mochamad Yudha Febrianta, Sri Widiyanesti, Syahrul Robbiansyah Ramadhan Analisis Ulasan Indie Video Game Lokal pada Steam Menggunakan Analisis Sentimen dan Pemodelan Topik Berbasis Latent Dirichlet Allocation 120 adalah produksi video game yang memiliki anggaran bernilai jutaan Dollar Amerika Serikat dan dihasilkan oleh video game developer (pengembang video game) ternama yang didukung oleh publisher (penerbit) perihal pemasaran dan promosinya yang berskala besar. Sementara indie video games menurut Saltman dalam Mathews (2016) adalah proyek video game yang pada umumnya bersifat eksploratif dan eksperimental dengan anggaran yang kecil oleh sekelompok kecil individu. ...
... Wong dalam Mathews (2016) menjelaskan bahwa AAA Mochamad Yudha Febrianta, Sri Widiyanesti, Syahrul Robbiansyah Ramadhan Analisis Ulasan Indie Video Game Lokal pada Steam Menggunakan Analisis Sentimen dan Pemodelan Topik Berbasis Latent Dirichlet Allocation 120 adalah produksi video game yang memiliki anggaran bernilai jutaan Dollar Amerika Serikat dan dihasilkan oleh video game developer (pengembang video game) ternama yang didukung oleh publisher (penerbit) perihal pemasaran dan promosinya yang berskala besar. Sementara indie video games menurut Saltman dalam Mathews (2016) adalah proyek video game yang pada umumnya bersifat eksploratif dan eksperimental dengan anggaran yang kecil oleh sekelompok kecil individu. ...
... indie is a hard-to-define term that has gained popularity primarily after the mobile gaming era (yet used as early as 2003) (Michael, 2003). it is typically used to define individuals or small teams that lack access to serious funding and are independent of big production cycles such as collaborations with publishers and distributors (Mathews & Wearn, 2016). the term is often used as opposed to aaa video games that are developed with crowded teams through the funding of publishers or distributor companies. ...
... there is little research on the effectiveness of what marketing mix works best for video games industry. according to a previous study done by Mathews and Wearn (2016), gamers trust the opinions of family and friends the most, followed by the opinions of youtubers. the same study marks tv advertisements as the least trusted marketing message outlets for video games. ...
... Our research indicates that players engage in numerous alternative methods to choose games. It is understood that players find new games through recommendations from family and friends; YouTubers (or influencers); social media; gaming websites; gaming magazines; TV advertisements; game developer websites; and expos, all carrying varying levels of trust (as noted above in the case of journalism) [26]. Other approaches include recommendation and tagging systems (such as that used on Steam) [27], and browsing forums such as reddit. ...
Full-text available
Article
This article considers players’ experiences seeking out new games to play, and their use of the Australian National Classification Scheme in doing so. The global video game industry is booming, with hundreds of games being released each month across numerous platforms. As a result, players have an unprecedented number of games available when choosing what games to purchase. However, a number of confounding issues around the emergent content of games and the subjective nature of game reviewing makes it difficult to relate what kinds of experiences a given game will facilitate. In this study, we surveyed game players in order to find their game platform and acquisition preferences; strategies and experiences when choosing games; and attitudes towards classification systems. Our findings suggest that players find it difficult to choose what games to purchase, and that existing classification systems are mostly only beneficial when choosing games for minors.
... In any case, the distinction seems convenient in industry terms to facilitate customer base targeting. In terms of production practices, indie developer companies refer to small-to-medium, independent, and typically under-funded videogame development groups (Mathews and Wearn, 2016), while AAA (or triple-A) developers refer to big and well-funded development companies that typically produce the platform-seller titles for consoles and PC (Binken and Stremersch, 2009). In perception, casual videogames are typically attributed to indie developers, and platform-seller star videogames are attributed to AAA developers. ...
Full-text available
Article
Purpose - In this paper, we investigate the business disruption effects of mobile technologies for the videogame industry in Turkey. Previous research shows that before mobile gaming became prevalent globally, Turkish videogame industry was extremely small and lacked any success stories for either console or PC platforms. Design/methodology/approach - To capture the nuances of this disruptive transition, we performed structured interviews with industry experts and analyzed prominent discussion forums. We especially focused on answering the following questions: (1) how prepared were Turkish videogame development companies in handling the mobile disruptive change; (2) what kind of transformations they experienced in their business plans and practices; (3) how the disruption affected the way they viewed their customer base; and (4) what future disruptions they expect in their industry. Findings - Analysis of interview and discussion data revealed some recurring themes that we discussed in detail: (1) ability to handle disruptive change (e.g., technical resources and fast-changing industry trends); (2) business transformations (e.g., agile vs. slow development, marketing-oriented business practices, and market burn-outs); (3) re-definition of the customer base (e.g., generalizations, niche categories, piracy, and clone games); (4) future disruptions (e.g., AR/VR and the maturity of mobile gamers); and (5) other general themes (e.g., stigma about gaming and localization of global titles vs. local production of original IPs). Social/Economic/Sectoral value - In order to create a stronger local industry, state bodies and non-governmental organizations can facilitate positive outcomes from these disruption periods by addressing and creating solutions for the issues revealed in this work. Originality – This paper offers unique insights to understand the videogame industry in Turkey.
... Within this framework; communication channels (traditional and social media), other consumers and fanbase around the game, and related content (official or fan production) play an as important role as the platforms and the distribution channels. In fact, a study by Mathews and Wearn (2016) highlights that gamers trust the opinions of YouTubers and friends and family more than the traditional marketing channels. Another previous research underscores the importance of social media channels and word-of-mouth for Turkish developers in promoting their games as compared to traditional channels (Şengün, 2018). ...
Full-text available
Chapter
Jenkins (2012; Jenkins & Deuze, 2008) proposes that today’s media cultural scene is a participatory one. This defines both the consumption of the media and the processes of production. Especially for the video games industry, it is seemingly less and less possible for gamers to consume a video game without actually participating in its extended media presence (e.g., social media content and interactions, gaming news, review videos, playthrough videos, fan fiction, fan art, forums, walkthroughs, leaderboards, internet memes, transmedia practices, etc.). Postigo (2007) asserts that “the fan culture for digital games is deeply embedded in shared practices and experiences among fan communities, and their active consumption contributes economically and culturally to broader society.” (p. 300) Video game producers begin this communication and participation process during the production of a game, and an increasing number of video games rely on prerelease marketing or communication to be successful. Preview copies, demos, crowd-source funding, developer blogs, and alpha and beta tests constitute some of the methods mobilized for this aim. Equally useful are do-it-yourself tools and media kits released along with the video games to promote fan production and modding.
... Hence, engaging players and communities is vital for the success of many games including customisable card games. Mathews and Wearn [30] state that word-of-mouth and user reviews are key to marketing games. ...
Full-text available
Article
In this article, we analyse the game play data of three popular customisable card games where players build decks prior to game play. We analyse the data from a player engagement perspective, how the business model affects players, how players influence the business model and provide strategic insights for players themselves. Sifa et al. found a lack of cross-game analytics while Marchand and Hennig-Thurau identified a lack of understanding of how a game's business model and strategies affect players. We address both issues. The three games have similar business models but differ in one aspect: the distribution model for the cards used in the game. Our longitudinal analysis highlights this variation's impact. A uniform distribution creates a spread of decks with slowly emerging trends while a random distribution creates stripes of deck building activity that switch suddenly each update. Our method is simple, easily understandable, independent of the specific game's structure and able to compare multiple games. It is applicable to games that release updates and enables comparison across games. Optimising a game's updates strategy is key as it affects player engagement and retention which directly influence businesses' revenues and profitability in the $95 billion global games market.
Book
Measuring the Success of Digital Marketing explains how to determine the success of a digital marketing campaign by demonstrating what digital marketing metrics are as well as how to measure and use them. Including real life case studies and experts viewpoints that help marketers navigate the digital world.
Big budget games are a dying breed
  • S Daniels
Daniels, S. (2015) Big budget games are a dying breed. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/aaa-games-arecrumbling-under-their-huge-budgets. Accessed 28 January 2016.
What is Indie? http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-04-16-what-is-indie
  • Robert Boyd
Study: Average dev costs as high as
  • R Crossley
Crossley, R. (2010) Study: Average dev costs as high as $28 m. http://www.develop-online.net/news/ study-average-dev-costs-as-high-as-28m/0106030. Accessed 7 February 2016.
Top stories. https://www.quora.com/What-does-AAA-mean-in-AAA-title-game. Accessed 28
  • F Wong
What makes a game indie: A universal definition
  • C Stern
Stern, C. (2012) What makes a game indie: A universal definition. http://sinisterdesign.net/what-makes-agame-indie-a-universal-definition/. Accessed 28 January 2016.
The Making of a Video Game Fanboy
  • B Ashcraft
Ashcraft, B. (2010) The Making of a Video Game Fanboy. Kotaku [ONLINE]. http://kotaku.com/ 5499012/the-making-of-a-video-game-fanboy. Accessed 20 January 16.
Why I quit my dream job at Ubisoft
  • B Maxime
Maxime, B. (2016) Why I quit my dream job at Ubisoft. http://gingearstudio.com/why-i-quit-my-dreamjob-at-ubisoft. Accessed 28 January 2016.