Meteor's Take on Transmedia

By Steve Peterson   Google+

Posted July 25, 2013



Adhesive Games has been building the free-to-play giant robot game Hawken for over two years now, and Meteor Entertainment is the publisher. The game has had strong transmedia connections from the beginning, with a graphic novel recently released, digital shorts in the works with Machinima and a feature film in production. The [a]list daily sat down with Meteor's vice president of transmedia marketing and promotions Paula Cuneo to discuss the unusual nature of Hawken's marketing efforts.

Cuneo is a game industry veteran with a varied background, working at companies like MicroProse, Activision, Microsoft, and Digital Development Management. “My background in gaming is super circuitous,” Cuneo said. “I was a producer, I was in licensing, and business development, corporate alliances, in-game advertising.” Now as VP of transmedia marketing and promotions, Cuneo is overseeing a diverse band. “The group that I sit on top of now and work with is community, social , PR and events, brand marketing and brand planning, customer service and support. It really is soup to nuts. From awareness, from the very beginning when we're iterating against a new IP, to customer support tickets to make sure the experience keeps people happy and in the space.”

Transmedia marketing means reaching across categories to find customers. “Our CEO Mark Long was really specific from the get-go about how he wanted to make sure we're reaching beyond the gaming industry and hitting a variety of really passionate industry points – feature films, graphic novels, the whole thing,” said Cuneo. “The challenge is that stuff takes a long time. We are like a year and a half in, and finally we have transmedia that's coming to fruition so we actually can use it to market our game.”

“That's essentially what we consider to be transmedia – make sure all our media points are helping to market the game,” Cuneo continued. “My job has been amended significantly to be much more focused on games as a service. Free-to-play is about a super long tail. You want to make sure minimum viable product goes out in the best way possible, but then you make sure people are in it for the long haul.”

The marketing Cuneo is overseeing has little to do with traditional channels. “If a game is really good, it should be all word of mouth, in a perfect world. We're not spending any money against advertising and we're not doing any paid media,” Cuneo explained. “We're really making sure that the product itself and the experience you get interacting with the company means you want to stay around.”

Cuneo sees the community itself as a great marketing resource. “We've created a bunch of advocate groups. We have what we call Hawken's Heroes, people who have played the longest who are great advocates. They have their own forums and we can poll them about all sorts of things,” Cuneo said. “Those are the guys who aren't just making the game better, but making games as a service better. We want to make sure people stick around even when we make a mistake, because we want to fix that mistake.”

Meteor views eSports as a significant target for Hawken. “It would be hard not to,” said Cuneo. “That raises the bar considerably in terms of game balance. Absolutely. It's such a blessing to have Riot come before us; it's good to have people who are doing it well. They have a wonderful, competitive game to play and they created this balance. It has to be a space where you can keep the playing field level. That will happen when we get that influx of people at go-live.”

Finding potential Hawken players for Meteor means going to consumer shows. “We've been very event-focused, making sure that we were on the ground so there was a hands-on opportunity,” Cuneo said. “We've executed a lot of stuff that was very fan-focused. Both the PAXes, East and Prime, were hugely important to us, Gamescom too. Transmedia is great, because it gives us a reason to be there while we're evolving as a game. We work with a publisher, Archaia, who does our graphic novel, a beautiful hardcover book of Hawken which starts to integrate the lore and backstory of the game. We've been allowed to piggyback on the different cons they do. We find that those fans, comic fans, are super-sticky. They've read it, they get it, they play, they monetize, they stick around. Those super-passionate fan points are great.”

Marketing has to be more creative with a property like Hawken, Cuneo believes. “The idea that you need to react against player behavior is really important. You can't pretend to care. You cannot phone it in,” Cuneo said. “We have hugely passionate players we've asked to stick with us through thick and thin. When they say something, you respond to them. It's a gold mine, but you have to be a sincere and an honest, active listener, and then you have to translate what that means and give it back to development, then development has to appreciate it enough to integrate it. That's games as a service. The idea that teams used to roll off of games, we'd all have a glass of champagne and move on to a totally different genre... no. Everyone's in it for the long term.”

Cuneo doesn't expect to find Hawken players through traditional marketing channels. “The people we want to get playing our game are playing games now, they're not watching TV. To pretend that we could advertise where we are not doesn't make any sense,” Cuneo said. “We're trying to facilitate advocacy inside the community. Publishers clearly are changing the way they do business and they way they are spending. There's tons of fantastic middleware that allows for real-time results against media buys, you can do microtests to see what people are hitting. That whole 'We'll have an agency, and they'll parse out where our money goes, and they'll spend it, and we'll measure it to see if it worked out not and that's the end' – it's not like that any more.”

With Titanfall arriving next year, there will be some well-financed mech game competition for Hawken. Cuneo is ready for them. “Every time they advertise, they're advertising a mech game. We're a mech game too, and we're free! We're scrappy.”

 





 


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