Advertise to a New Audience

While I’m going to try not to always use this space to write about video games I’m playing and movies I’m watching, its really all I do with my spare time, so I guess it can’t be helped :P

I’ve been playing this Bioware game called Dragon Age lately, and man is it exactly what I wanted from a Bioware RPG (role playing game.) Epic storylines, great character interaction, tons of quests, and tactical combat are the hallmarks of the traditional Western RPG genre, and the folks at Bioware have a pedigree for it with games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights under their belt. This game takes all that to the next level, adding spectacular graphics and animation, and hundreds of choices for your characters dialog. For an RPG nerd like myself, its all I could have asked for and more.

Now, I’ve been following this game for some time, and I had the chance to play it 2 years or so ago at GenCon in Indiana. It totally blew me away, and I was sold on the game right then and there. I didn’t need marketing to ensure I was going to get a copy of it day 1.

However, not everyone who buys games went to GenCon. Also, not every Joe Six-pack who buys two games a year (Madden NFL Football and Halo) would be very interested in a tactical, story driven RPG. That’s where Bioware’s parent company, EA, and their marketing machine step in.

EA had a considerable budget for marketing on this game, and it shows, particularly with their heavy saturation of ads during the World Series and football games. In an interesting move, the style and tone of the ads was designed not to appeal to already informed gamers like myself – we already knew what the game was going to be and whether or not we wanted it – they were aimed more at the action gamer; the guys who can mash buttons in God of War, and not much else. The marketing for the game focuses very heavily on blood splatter, action combat, and (for some weird reason) Marilyn Manson.

The overall effect is a two-pronged approach; hardcore gamers would already be informed through gaming magazines, websites, and word-of-mouth, while Joe Six-pack just sees “crazy, bloody action game” and gets all interested that way. Is it sort of sneaky to advertise the game this way? A little bit, but its not making any promises as to the content of the game and, to be honest, there is quite a bit of blood in the combat sequences. Really, you could say that EA knows their audience, and their marketing goes out of the way to attract people who aren’t in that group. Its genius, really, and I think it’s something that could be particularly effective as a marketing strategy in other fields as well.

It all makes me curious as to what the NPD numbers and sales figures will be like; if it sells even 1m copies, I’d be happy, since it would most likely mean a sequel!