Monthly Archives: March 2008

MMO’s are taking over?

It seems like a new MMO is announced almost every day. After the success of World of Warcraft it feels like every game company must have their own MMO. Well, no denying World of Warcrafts huge market share, and how it somehow attracted non-gamers to play. Probably thanks to it’s social appeal. It became the genre king of MMO, an have continued to be no. 1.

But like every other industry, then something comes along, that surpass everything else and somewhat create a standardization, everyone have to case a piece of the cake. The most recent is apparently some kind of Tom Clancy MMO!? I’m just afraid the industry is killing the genre by overpopulating it to many MMO in contrast with the numbers of possible players. The amount of MMO will exceed the market demand. We people are limited by time and energy.

On the other hand, it’s only good for the genre to increase it’s range of MMO which will appeal to different sub-cultures. World of Warcraft and other classical MMO is based on fantasy, and there are some science-fiction’s one as well. I just believe game companies must have a realistic belief in how many players they will attract. It’s great to create MMO, which appeal to a certain sub-genre for example people totally psyched of lets say the Matrix movies and universe.

An increase in variety of different MMO is great, so every one can find the one most suited for them. The point I make is similar to one in my Brands in Social media post, namely that World of Warcraft is like Facebook today. It isn’t the first, but at the time the best and have attracted the biggest market share. And now people know what it’s all about, how the new media works. And soon they will start to look for a new MMO, more suited for their life, interest and people around them.

If World of Warcraft is one of the 5% which make up 90% of the revenue and population of MMO, the demand and focus on more niched MMO will surely increase in the years to come. This is great of the market! But I really hope the game companies developing the new MMO don’t just jump on the trend cause it’s hot right now. To plan and be realistic on the market. Not every game franchise is fitted for a MMO version.

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New Swedish videogame tv-channel

The amount of tv-channels have gowned in recent years, only a natural development. With the increase of channels in little Sweden, it’s also natural that some won’t be successes. One of those will now shift focus towards videogames and other entertainment. It’s the gaming part I’m most interested in. Every try to create good game televsion I’ve seen in Sweden have been really mediocre. The “new” channel will contain both of self-produced material and imported. The name for the channel seems to be Games Network Sweden. I really hope they can make something good out of this. Sweden is a huge little gaming country, and I think there’s a market, but it depends on the quality and accessibility.

A new measure for success?

People ChoiceThe “new” medium, Internet, have changed our life’s in so many ways, I think its to great to comprehend. As a Millennials (Serious! now we have our own conference), I welcome many of the new possibilities and wonders the web have created. Many old business models have been demolish, and changed who we interact, consume digital media and view the world.

One of the more interesting changes is the explosion of video content online. Especially with the success of Youtube and other sites which offers free storage and conversions of movie files. If you compare the amount of videos online with the years before this phenomenon, we’re really spoiled today :). Videos online existed, but what made the big break was according to me when people got access to a ready-to-use tool to convert different file formats and stored them on special servers. Accessibility, user-friendly tools and the word-of-mouth ability to spread the videos and find other great videos played there parts.

Now a day, its a natural part of the internet to view videos. I use them constantly in post on this blog, and almost every other site use them as well. It’s great if you missed something funny from a tv-show or so. With a simple search it doesn’t take many seconds to find that specific clip and view it. And how many business presentations haven’t I found which would be completely lost for me?

Online videoI got thinking of how this have impacted the measurement of video/tv success. The old classic way was/is simply to measure number of viewers. And people had no other choices than: a) watch the damn show, b) switch channel, or c) simply turn of the tv. Today however, our consumption and media habits have evolved, and people have more control than before, and like the feeling of control. When we have the luxury of control and choice today, we don’t always want to watch tv-shows when they air. Or for that matter in front of a tv. Today people use computers and handheld devices like mobiles and mediaplayers like the iPod to view video content. One thing I personally love is the ability on Google Video to download some videos and then transfer them to my Playstation 3 in the living room and watch them whenever I chose. Sometime (often!) I just want to view one part or clip of a show, not the whole episode. Once again, we get spoiled by the power of the digital age! The beauty of the tools to transfer video to the digital medium and power of the users ability to create and share, are two of the most important factors which have made this successful. Really great video clips you often find in different veracities and uploaded by many users. How do you measure a successful show or clip?

Now, here’s a more concrete example: a classic tv-channel air an episode of a tv-show. The numbers of viewers is pretty low, and is therefore considered a failure. But… if you make your way out on the internet and search for that episode of clips from it online, it may be another story. The show has been taped, digitalised and cut in smaller chips, removing the commercial breaks and boring parts. If you now add together the statistic of how many have viewed the clips together, it indicate something other than the tv-channels statistics. Say that together they have been clicked and viewed about 2 million times all together, which can be considered really good! What does this indicate? It air in the wrong channel, at the wrong time or people didn’t like the beginning (before the good parts)? Maybe it appealed to a core audience, but not the big masses? I would say that it depends, but the point I want to make is, how do you measure success today? I would state that the online (user created) statistic is a big indicator on what people actually feel. To view classic tv-channel ratings only doesn’t complete the picture. People can have the tv on in the background, or just forgot in on. Statistic of people how actively choose to watch, when and how they prefer, are according to me better and more true than passive viewers.

One of the biggest questions on this growing part of the web is… how da heck can companies make money on it? Google bought Youtube for many millions, still… how do you generate revenue on this? Today it’s free, and we all know that free always prevail over non-free service. If Youtube would start charging for their service, the user most certainly leave and go to a similar service which would be free. Recently on the Future of Television conference the subject of future business model for television will develop. How will the classical ads-model evolve to work with the digital medium. I don’t have a solution to the situation, but I’m still sceptical towards the old ads-model. People don’t like them, and if they can chose they probably will chose the ad-free alternative. And to work so hard to get ads in there somehow I don’t get.

I wonder if the marketers and advertising people how create the ads watch all the commercials on tv at home? I doubt it really. Why would they, just cause they work with it? Maybe to see if their ad air according to contract, or to scan the competitors ads, but other than that, hmmm… NO. They are consumers like us other, and their time is also limited.

Internet is a unstoppable force, and the services and application created online have changed us, in ways we didn’t expect. Choice and “Free”, a luxury many of us enjoy with the medium. And if companies or states try to interfere, we have the means to just switch and find a similar service which serves us!

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Bimbo game, a problematic fictional media vision

Okey, I’ve shared my view on big game controversy like raised fears of kids playing violent games. I do agree to some extent, but these games aren’t meant for kids, but adults. Here come the latest controversial, from the U.K. The online game called Miss Bimbo, a game directed towards young girls between 9 and 16.

So what’s the point…? Basically create a bimbo avatar (your own virtual Barbie), dress, feed and care for her. Now you think that’s it? Oh no! Here’s the gory part, you do all these thing mention above through dating rich guys, diet pills, throwing up food and medical beauty surgeon. Simply copying the life’s of the big stars and how they live and act. A lifestyle or a view on life created by the media I strongly oppose.

From a market aspect I don’t see anything strange. Many people in France and UK have signed up and play, which indicate a demand. But I feel like the creator has left his moral and ethics in a closet at home. If you dissect the game design, one could argue that another approach could have been an option regarding the reward system. The possibilities to use diet pills and surgeon could still exist, but you would get better results by doing it the natural way. We don’t want to rewards people who take a cheap shortcut like this.

Overall I’m worried about the society we’re heading towards, how media create a false image of life and how people just swallow it. A classical marketing theory, create a vision in peoples head how they should feel, a false image. The sad fact that more attractive people are more successful (if money is a measurement on success that is), but what can we do about it?

Last night I saw a debate show, were one of the topic was medical surgery in order to look more beautiful and younger. Also here they discussed what messages this send out to people. Sure, people’s bodies are theirs to do as they please with. And in some case it legitimate and maybe a matter of life and death. The bigger question here is why people operate and transform them self. A co-worker stated that in reality its no different from me, now that I’m getting a new tattoo. Yes, many people who choose to get on the operational table may do it for them self. But were they get their inner image what they want to achieve has it’s base in the overall fictional, fantasy, social media image, which have become the norm. If people truly would do it for their own cause, fine, but I doubt everyone think that way.

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In-game adsvertising 2.0?

It feel like I’m repeating myself again, but this is a subject that really interest me. Thou still not totally convinced that In-game advertising will be a “white knight” saving the game industry I’m open to be proven wrong (well not totally, and I wont admit it :)). I’ve written post before explaining my criticisms for in-game ads, two articles on GamedailyBiz made my little thinking brains start again.

The most interesting article was the “My Turn” by Double Fusion Chief executive where he outlines how the in-game ads business have evolved and what needs to happened in the future. He talks about the second phase, maybe 2.0 of in-game ads? His basically arguing for and try to sell the future potential for in-game ads, which is understandable, its his job. Yes, in-game ads are here to stay, no denying that, but I would like to state some problems I see.

Today’s games and in-game ads are more directed and suited for big companies, those who posses huge marketing budgets and big brands. The medium today is not suited for the majority of companies. Maybe this is just because the business is so young, and the prices to join this trend will decrease. Otherwise I believe this will be viewed as “exclusive” marketing medium. But still, the medium demands high costs for implementation. Every game is a new experience and different from previous and other games. This require the help from companies like Double Fusion or Massive Incorp. to make this possible. For the games sake I like this, but if you view it from a advertisers view its another story. The concept is the same as the old “way” of marketing, to hire outside companies to help you with your marketing. I like to view myself as a “new media”-marketer, and thing the old marketing thinking if outdated. Probably because I work with Search engine- and affiliate marketing but these are successful marketing channels that I believe the in-game ads business could learn a lot from.

The in-game ads business today is all about big budgets and uncertain ROI. In order for this business to grow I think they need to be influenced from affiliate marketing. The in-game advertising companies today are the equivalence of affiliate companies like Tradedoubler. On the web its all about big volumes and low margins, the whole Long Tail-theory. As mentioned before, today the in-game ads biz feels more like a exclusive club for big corporations. The medium is controlled by a few players, both on the console side and in-game advertising side. The companies are bound to go throw these to be able to use the game medium.

One of biggest advantages with online marketing like Search and Affiliate marketing, are the possibilities to in real-time see the ROI. Also, the companies control over their own marketing. With Google Adwords the companies decide budget, audience and time online for their ads. The changes made happen instantly. Also the focus differentiate, were in-game advertising according to me is more about brand building.

A big difference here is the “state” of phase of the wanted audience. People surfing the web are more in a state of buying, but when people play games, they want to be entertained, escape reality and just have a great time. Here’s a big difference according to me. Online, most people search for something, maybe information or were to buy a certain product. They actively SEARCH for it, and want to find it. When people play games, they want to be relaxed and not in the same phase as people searching online. The in-game advertising model is just the same old “push” model used by TV, radio and classical web banners. They try to push their message on the consumer, a model I’m not really a fan of. We get bombarded by advertising messages everywhere today, and now even in our games? Again, this may work to build a brand or raise brand value, but will it really sell products? One argument I can buy is the rise of Around-game advertising, were the ads isn’t in the games, but around it. A great example is Battlefield:Heroes, where they will make some of their revenue from banners and ads on the games site. This approach won’t disturb the in-game experience and is easier to track results from.

Even if these in-game ads companies claim they can track how many time an ads has been viewed, to me this says nothing. As the video in my Awareness Test post showed, a great example on our lack of attention when we are focused.

As stated before, its also limited by game genres. For some games this can work, and is necessary to create a reality atmosphere, sport games for example. Another quote I reacted to was:

Why is in-game advertising important to the industry?
The easy answer is the monetary one – that in-game advertising allows game companies of all sorts to add additional, high net profit dollars, to the bottom line. This is not a new fact, although the amounts of money being generated for gaming companies continues to increase whether you look at a per-user or a per-box metric.

When he mention “gaming companies”, I wonder who he’s referring to, developers or publishers? Later in the article he states that in order for this business to work, it has to be a part of the development early on. My fear here is if this will impact how publishers choice to invest in game development. If they’re only willing to focus on games that can include in-game advertising? Only safe projects, even more in the future than today. Still I’m not anti-in-game advertising completely, I just think the buzz around it is bigger than it deserves today. I’m willing to accepted the concept if it works more like a complement instead of a phenomenon that will change the direction on game development and innovation. I don’t want every game company in the future to pursue game ideas were they can squeeze in some in-game advertising. Innovation, new ideas, great gameplay and a fun experience most always be the nr. 1 priority!

Blogs are not to be exploited

Lately in Sweden, blogs have been debated heavily in the mass-media. A couple month ago Swedish media reported one of the biggest swedish blogs was terminated. The author said he didn’t like what he had become. His “blog”character had become “monster” and wrote things he didn’t intended. Like the blog took hold of him? Well the blog was a fucking gossip piece of shit so it wasn’t any loss to talk about.

Interesting enough, after this he is viewed as somewhat of a blog-genius in Sweden. For what reason I can’t comprehend. He had many readers, wrote nothing of value, the blog was published at one of the biggest Swedish sites and newspapers (if you want to call Aftonbladet a newspaper that is…). Still, he couldn’t control him self or the blog, so he had to kill it. How the fuck does that make him a blog-genius!?

He and his brother recently started a blog on another Swedish newssite and it attracted many readers, just because of their names and fame from the last blog. Now, history have repeated itself. News today tell that the blog is terminated cause the brothers have done it again. Simply put, they bad-talk other people! I agree with the editor that he have to protect his newspaper. The author of the two blogs may have created buzz surrounding him and PR, but he’s destroying the reputations for the blog medium.Business blog

Other news surrounding blogs in Sweden is the rise of young girls bloging about fashion. Especially one authors have received much attention for her blog where she writes about fashion, politics and her self. She’s also portrayed as a PR-genius, simply because she attracts many readers, mostly young girls. News have reported that she apparently make millions (sek) in “sneak”-advertisement. The big compaines know how influencing huge blogs can be, and when classical advertisement is expensive and hard do penetrate the media noise, they see the potential to reach the young audience. Ether she get money or send her products to mention them on her blog. This isn’t anything new, but in my opinion its dispecable. Its degrading the blog medium and raise the question concerning the border of editorial and sponsored (bought) text.
The big companies have problem to reach the young audience and are willing to do whatever it takes apparently… I think it’s ashamed how they exploit every new medium or trend to reach me and my younger fellow beings. But thankfully the bought “sneak” advertisement in blogs is now being revised for illegal marketing. To market products, without declaring for the reader that the text is “paid” for.

This pleases me, cause I’m very much against big companies and “evil” marketing people exploiting the blog medium. One of the main things with blogs it its simplicity for regular people to make a voice for them self and connect with others. Blog is basically the tool, the technology behind. Its then a how people decide to use it that bothers me sometimes. I use it to store many of my thoughts and to promote myself and my knowledge.

Another thing that anger me with the young fashion blogger, is her influence over other young girls. Her audience is mostly teenage girls, who many look up to her and what she says and stand for. I don’t believe she fully understand what impact her post can have on unsecured girls. She’s from the higher end of the Swedish society, and she create a picture of how she is and many girls probably want to be like her. If she then make statements like: “When I grow old I can always operate myself” or “This new bag is a must” (and i cost to much for a regular family, that send the wrong signals. As a “role”model or trendsetter if you want, she should have a responsibility. I’m worried what kind of image of society she and the other blog idiot creates when so many follow and read the shit they put out! And the blog medium is so much more than fucking gossip, pie throwing and expensive fashion…

[Link: News about the famous Swedish fashion blogger]

Awareness test!

A very interesting and good examples on our ability to take in information and what we focus our attention on.

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Now, did you see the… ? :) This demonstrate how our attention works when we are focused something, and what we miss. So when we focus on for example, playing games, in-game ads will probably be ignored or simply missed.

Apple to dominate the mobile gaming market?

A couple weeks ago Apple unveiled the SDK for their hit mobile (mini-computer?) iPhone. Companies and the business world were critical toward the iPhone in regards to the lack of business oriented applications and software. Also some users want to be able to create their own programs. Never underestimate the power of user commitment and energy with a brand or product they love. Anyway, the SDK have sense its release been downloaded over 100 000 times. During Apples presentation of the new features in the latest iPhone firmware and the flexibility of the SDK, they invited game developer to show the potential.Apple games

Apple will make it possible for developers to release new programs and games through the iTunes platform. The power iPhone displayed as a gaming machine was impressive. One part of the gaming market I’ve heard little of, and I’m still not totally convinced about is the mobile market. With all different brands, systems, technical spec in the phones, it can’t be easy developing for a non defined system. The iPhone have set a new standard in the mobile market. Most the news I read about a new phone there’s always the comparison with the iPhone. “This is the iPhone killer”.

The interesting question here is whether Apple going to dominate the mobile gaming market. They have a great product with a huge market share. Well, not in Sweden sense it doesn’t even have a release date. I’m looking forward to see how they will do, and that the game developer will use the power of the iPhone to create. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple want to dominate and control the mobile gaming market. Okey, I don’t like the idea of one company with to much power in one market, not even if it is Apple. But according to me, if the mobile market is to grow, it will require a united platform. Maybe the iPhone will set the standard? Time will tell, but it sure as hell will be interesting to follow…

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