How should BFC promote CM: Normandy?

Michael Dorosh

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It might be too early for this game, but the Hearts of Iron 3's (Paradox Interactive: check here) weekly developers diary is very popular, 1 screenshot a week, endless discussion and drooling by the hardcore fans, and just a weekly update for the average gamers on great things to come. Advantage is that everybody knows the pace at which information is released, so everyone seems more content. Again it might be too early, but it's greatly appreciated by the community. They even do a twitter thing I believe with short updates like '40 provinces between Leningrad and Stalingrad' (trust me, it matters to people apparently ;-)).
Great post by Zwolo2003 at BFC.

I really liked the marketing campaign that Panzer Command did, too, actually, which had a downloadable Google Earth map with all the campaign locations right loaded up so you could see the real-world locations and the scenario write-ups, plus the front line for the entire Kharkov Campaign. It was a brilliant bit of PR.

Steve's idea of PR is this (same thread):

As with other early screenshots, the majority of people are pleased to see something and that makes us happy. The minority that isn't happy wasn't happy before, so it's routine stuff.
Moon sums it with a Churchill paraphrase: ""I don't care if people talk good or bad about me, as long as they spell my name right". But this is even more priceless, from Moon.

- if we were driven by the idea to "maximize profits" (which is what "most value" and "most effective communication" are about in the end), we wouldn't be doing PC wargames, but creating sports games for Wii. Luckily, for you, everyone at Battlefront is driven as much by the idea of making the games that they like to play themselves as by the idea that we need to make profit (we do, but not "at all cost" and "beyond any other considerations").
They are making wargames as a favour to us. We keep forgetting that, guys.

But back to the question at hand - the original quote in this post. A reasonable suggestion. Would BFC not benefit from a more structured release of preview material?
 

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You would need to have someone at BFC with an insight into marketing. Not just the routine send copies to reviewers stuff, but creative, out of the box thinking.

Those idiots will wake up one day and find their customers have as much contempt for them as they have for their customers.
 

Sirocco

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We had this discussion about the box artwork for CMAK. If Steve didn't believe broadening the potential customer base for that game was worthwhile I don't see him exploring other avenues.

The blog wasn't a bad idea, but who reads it? How often is it updated?
 

Michael Dorosh

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I still think Moon chattering away in that YouTube video sounding like Borat would have made a priceless viral video if only it was 10 seconds long instead of 10 painful minutes of watching a Syrian infantry company get slaughtered when they try to ambush a Stryker unit. "My Sack Lacks The Power To Actually Be Killing", set to the proper music, could have rivalled All Your Base Belong To Us for household recognition.

Instead, the video AAR they released shows what? An overlong expose of exactly what CM:SF's detractors always said - that the Syrians weren't competitive and the game was no fun. "Oh well," Moon says at the end of this horribly long video with no production values, "that was to be expected."

AND THIS IS MARKETING?

He was on the BFC forum today, same thread I quoted above, bragging about his MBA - or hinting that he might at least know what one is...

One thing often missed in MBA classes is the long-term aspect of doing business. "most value" and "effective communication" traditionally are related to immediate results. "Sales today" is what is often used to measure how effective and how valuable things are. But this isn't *quite* the way we work. Our philosophy is that the long-term results are what really counts, or at least counts as much as today's results. If you have played a few Battlefront games you will perhaps notice a common theme: "deep" gameplay. Our philosophy is that if the game is "good" then it will prevail. Instead of spending time and assets on maximizing today's profits, we prefer to put in the time to design a game that we think is "good". If we had an endless supply of resources we could perhaps do both, but as it is we think that making good games is better down the road than boasting about them. Our busines model - internet sales - allows us to do this as well. If we had to sell primarily through retail it wouldn't be possible - "day one sales" is the magic word there
The one thing he may have correct is that acting like douchebags on their own forum probably - sadly - may not harm the bottom line much if the majority of their customers really do not visit their forums.

Which means the 1,000,000 hits on their website that they brag about as indicative of their "success" is all the more irrelevant...and they are all the more desperate for tangible signs of that success to "boast about them", as they say. ;)
 
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Sirocco

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Moving forward, I think the greatest problem they have is their core customers have a lot of questions on known specifics. The new QB system, for example. No matter what approach they take they are going to have to answer those questions in as good natured a manner as possible. You don't want an antagonistic buzz around whatever tool or tools you choose to promote the game through development. I would update the blog on a regular basis and tie that in with a specific youtube channel. Get the game logo done as soon as possible and stamp all material with it. Release wallpapers, explain how people can embed the youtube videos on their own pages. Look at every possible angle for getting the game into the wargaming and even wargaming-light arena. Turn those communities into a small army of salesmen. Mailing lists with bonus goodies. Keep the game in peoples minds from here to release.
 

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deep gameplay
The problem with that line is that there is less depth with CMx2 as it stands than there was with CMx1. And I would define nationalities and equipment as breadth. The module concept can add breadth, but unless QB's and campaigns are fixed depth is FUBAR'd.
 

Michael Dorosh

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They did have the Shock Force logo up very early. And people accepted it and were happy not to have to speculate - and it was just accepted, if I recall it correctly, so you're correct on that point.

It's too simple, as you point out - and the quote in my first post hits it on the head. Offer up a little morsel every week, on schedule, and people will be happy. Even if it's something ridiculous. "Hey, we're a bit behind this week, but KwazyDog got the textures for the G.I. bootlaces done - here ya go. *wink*"

Maybe it's not even Normandy, though. Wouldn't that be a hoot. Maybe they have no idea how to do bocage, and they're struggling with it, and so they're hedging (no pun intended) and it turns out it will be some Brittany or northern-France or even "fictional ETO" American-German module with the 35th Division from Kelly's Heroes in it so they can throw in Tigers and SS troops. Maybe they have no one willing to research a kitchen-sink campaign and want to just do up free-form maps from Google Earth.

Would explain why they don't want to explain nasty old bocage questions...or name the name of the module...

But I'm only speculating.

To answer your other question - I hated the idea of the blog, because I read the forum exclusively. And then BFC would start referring to the blog, on the forum, and I wouldn't even know how to get to it. I don't think anyone really checked it. And what's worse, half the time, no one signs the blog entries, but they are written in the first person. It seems impersonal and ghastly to read them that way.
 

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The point about the blog is you can make it available as an RSS feed. Other people can import that feed into their own blogs, as well as just subscribe to it. And you can duplicate the blog posts on the forum.
 

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Our philosophy is that if the game is "good" then it will prevail. Instead of spending time and assets on maximizing today's profits, we prefer to put in the time to design a game that we think is "good". If we had an endless supply of resources we could perhaps do both
I had to come back to this. First of all, just because it's online it doesn't mean that marketing is irrelevant. Whatever medium you're selling through you have to make people aware of your product, and ideally you want that knowledge to be a positive awareness, or at least neutral. A game release itself is marketing, even if you just dump the product on a reviewers doorstep. The second point is, if you don't properly market you fail to maximise the products potential, and if you fail to do that, surprise, surprise, you have a smaller pot of cash to play with than you would otherwise have. Marketing itself doesn't have to be expensive, but what it does take is creative thinking and a willingness to accept it's crucial part of publishing games. And especially in these hard financial times maximising sales volume can be critical to survival.

But ultimately what I think the above quote underlines is the familiar rationalising of why BFC don't do what they should, perhaps more so to themselves than us.
 

thewood

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Its about the toolbar. I have a fever, and the cure is more toolbar.

Come on...whose idea was the toolbar. Did anyone install it? One second of resources that the toolbar took away from real development and support was a second too much.
 

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If people installed every offered toolbar there'd be no screen space left.....so the answer is NO ONE....I hope.
 

[hirr]Leto

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I still think Moon chattering away in that YouTube video sounding like Borat would have made a priceless viral video if only it was 10 seconds long instead of 10 painful minutes of watching a Syrian infantry company get slaughtered when they try to ambush a Stryker unit. "My Sack Lacks The Power To Actually Be Killing", set to the proper music, could have rivalled All Your Base Belong To Us for household recognition.

Instead, the video AAR they released shows what? An overlong expose of exactly what CM:SF's detractors always said - that the Syrians weren't competitive and the game was no fun. "Oh well," Moon says at the end of this horribly long video with no production values, "that was to be expected."

AND THIS IS MARKETING?

He was on the BFC forum today, same thread I quoted above, bragging about his MBA - or hinting that he might at least know what one is...



The one thing he may have correct is that acting like douchebags on their own forum probably - sadly - may not harm the bottom line much if the majority of their customers really do not visit their forums.

Which means the 1,000,000 hits on their website that they brag about as indicative of their "success" is all the more irrelevant...and they are all the more desperate for tangible signs of that success to "boast about them", as they say. ;)
Yes, I got a kick out of this and resisted the temptation to suggest that I would try to add his wisdom to the curriculum of the MBA business strategy classes that I teach...

: )

In a long winded way he was talking about a business model that they felt had "value" based upon their "philosophy" (that was not based on typical growth or even profit based model).

He's a real gestalt artist, ain't he?

Cheers!

Leto
 

jwb3

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They are making wargames as a favour to us. We keep forgetting that, guys.
Technically, the quote you wrote that in response to said that, "We're making wargames as a favor to ourselves", not even as "a favor to our customers."

But yeah, I agree that the "favor to our customers" does sum up Steve's usual attitude.

For which reason, my response to the original question was, "They should promote it as little as possible." The less they talk about it, the less they can shoot themselves in the foot...


John
 

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If they make the games as a favor to Themselves, then their customers are just extremely lucky paupers, garnering the tiny crumbs of BFCs eminent generosity.

That sums up BFCs opinions of us quite well.
 
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