No Man’s Marketing

No man’s sky was just another example of how unrealistic goals, marketing promises and hype generation can cause a catastrophe. It was just another example but one of the biggest ones in recent history of the gaming industry. Why do we never learn, both the industry and customers?

We all have been there more than once:

  • Pre-rendered trailers showing off content not present or not in that way in the final game
  • Marketing promises bordering on blatant lies
  • Demonstrations which later do not reflect the final game (graphical detail or quality, performance, etc)
  • Showing of performance or features on development systems or PowerPC with higher specifications than the target systems (game consoles)
  • Overhyping resulting in unrealistic customer expectations
  • The final product is suddenly missing announced features or content (cuts, downgrading, now DLC)
  • DLC that is already on the disc
  • Presenting material which is actually from PSX/XBOX/PC version for another platform
  • Intentional deceptions

No man’s sky was so extremely hyped that the backlash was kinda inevitable. It swapped so high that multiple customer protection agencies world wide looked into it. The name of the company “Hello Games” will be forever tied to this disaster. For weeks gaming websites ran stories on this game and the customer feedback. The developer tried to make up for it by delivering patches and more content to bring the game to a better state. But the damage was already there. Trust between the company and its damaged ruined. Its very difficult to repair that.

Why do these things keep happening? Corporate greed, shortsighted actions, irresponsible marketing? I am not entirely sure what happens in some companies that you can still cause such a stir in these days with such an amount of past experiences and customer feedback opportunities. The biggest problem in my opinion which causes these situations is a failure to manage customer expectations. Marketing and PR both are interested to get our game out and well known. You want to attract potential customers. You want to sell your product. With everything you show off, announce and promise you raise customer expectations. It looks like too many are still generating hype at all costs generating out of control expectations.

If the hype and the customer expectations are left unattended the result is often very bad. It can lead to frustrated customers, backlash, ruined trust, loosing loyal customers and permanently damage the reputation of your entire company. Why is it so difficult to manage those? Where is the problem to clearly communicate what your product will offer (and sometimes what not)? Especially smaller studios and users of the “early access” programs seem to understand this. Communicate and manage. This prevents false expectations, unrealistic demands and avoids frustration on both sides. Make it clear what your customers can expect from you. If they know the boundaries they can work with it and their expectations remains withing the possible.

This too is a form of customer service and it starts the moment a customer notices a product of yours for the first time.

 

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