Kaz Hirai: The Marketing Challenges Of PS3

In an interview with Times Online, SCEA head Kaz Hirai discussed the challenges the PS3 has had in gaining a foothold in the market.  In particular, the marketing hurdles of the recently-redesigned machine came into question.

From the Times Online interview:

[Question:] A marketing person once told me that the most difficult thing to sell is a Swiss Army penknife, because it does everything. Do you think you made the same mistake with the PS3?

 [Hirai:] Right. That was more of a marketing issue than anything else. When I came back to Japan in November 2006, one of the first things I did was to go out with a very clear message that said the PS3 is first and foremost a video game console, before we talk about any of the other great things it can do. I think the PS3 had a bit of an identity problem.

We focused therefore in the first year and a half or so on talking about the great games and also we sent that message to all of our development partners.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that, which is why we’ve got this great raft of software coming into this holiday season. Once we’ve done that, then we can talk about all the other things that it can do in terms of the non-game video content, whether it’s the video delivery service or the catchup TV service or the movie rental service. But none of that makes much sense unless we can say first and foremost it’s a great video game console.

Wii Sports Resort Hits A Million

Wii Sports Resort, the first true video game blockbuster of the year, recently reached platinum status with one million units sold in America.

The game, whose marketing was featured extensively in our exclusive feature a few weeks ago, also reached the one million mark in both the European and Japanese territories, and shows no signs of slowing down. Wii Motion Plus accessory sales has also reached the two million mark in the United States, and continues to be the number-one product in Amazon s video game store.

“Millions of consumers worldwide have demonstrated that they want their summer vacations to keep going,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Wii Sports Resort provides both novice and veteran players a fun, virtual escape to a resort island with their friends and family something that will be even more appealing as the weather turns cooler this fall and winter.”

Assassin’s Creed II And Modern Warfare 2 Don’t Compete

From VG247:

Assassin’s Creed II’s chances will not be hampered by the near-identical release date of Modern Warfare 2, creative director Patrice Desilets told VG247 at GamesCom, thanks to its difference in nature.

Did you know the original Assassin’s Creed went head-to-head with Modern Warfare in 2007 and sold 9 million units? We didn’t.

“The first game we released two weeks after Modern Warfare, and we still sold 9 million copies,” said the developer.

People, when they want their first-person shooter fix, they buy Modern Warfare. If you want you a swords, running on rooftops, big open city fix, this is it.

And there are people that want to play that, and they don’t want to play the game with guns.

We don’t think it’s that cut and dry, but the two games will have some overlap, and it s up to each game’s marketing to highlight the strengths of their product.  Our money is on Modern Warfare 2 pulling it out, but Assassin’s Creed II will be right on its tail.

Assassin’s Creed II Asks Fans To Be Assassins

Assassin’s Creed II is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and Ubisoft has kicked off its viral marketing by asking the fans waiting for the game to play the assassin in their own YouTube videos.

Fans who submit their videos, showing their assassin skills and mantra, will have a chance at a random prize, and it should be fun to engage with other fans of the popular series.

From Live By The Creed (official site):  {link no longer active}

Write your own version of The Assassin’s Creed. Tell us what it means to be an Assassin, what you stand for, and why you have chosen this path. Create a one-two minute video reciting your Creed.

Upload your video to YouTube so that everyone may learn what it means to be an Assassin. Be ready to submit your mission to Live By The Creed at a moment s notice, as prizes will be randomly awarded to the first 100 entries after the community goes live.

We love efforts like this that really engage the community in showcasing their love for the brand.

[a]list Panel Recap: Acquisition, Viral, Community

Moderator: Scott Steinberg, Publisher, DigitalTrends.com


Min Kim, VP Marketing, Nexon America
Keith Lee, CEO, Booyah
Paul Caparotta, Media Manager, Namco Bandai Games
Caryl Shaw, Senior Producer, Spore EA/Maxis

Summary: Video game advertising has evolved far past the age of simple push, pull and viral content creation: Today, it s become virtually indiscernible from the end product itself. Having entered into an era where adding long-term value and building/managing customer relationships, not simply driving sales and fueling market awareness, have suddenly become paramount, we must also accept a radical truth. Not to mention, that is, the fundamental shift in thinking it necessitates.

To wit, no longer can promoters afford to act purely as a mouthpiece for the message, nor allow creative to serve in a mere outside supporting role. Instead, they must proactively work hand-in-hand with (and increasingly begin to think like) actual game designers themselves. Likewise, to achieve maximum ROI, marketing must also be deeply embedded into actual product development, ideally from day one, and viewed as an organic extension of any given title or campaign s core feature set. Because in its purest essence, video game advertising circa 2009 isn t about just providing a temporary groundswell of support for a specific title or brand. It s about creating a persistent, standalone entertainment experience with real, tangible worth unto itself.

Given this sweeping change in focus, it’s important to note. Promotional content must not only be designed from the beginning to live on in a dedicated, persistent space. It s also vital that users be given the tools to interact with, shape, share and make of media what they will as well as connect and communicate with fellow enthusiasts while doing so. In essence, tomorrow’s most effective advertising campaigns are actually metagames in disguise. And will be designed so that users actively and regularly seek them out in order to sate their desire to gain exclusive access/knowledge, a perceived boost in social status or tangible physical reward. Make no mistake: Audience empowerment is the key to success. Unbounded by time, budget or political constraints, your user base can act as an eternal wellspring from which greatness springs. And more pointedly serve to drive new customer adoption and content refresh rates far beyond that which is within the capacity of any given agency or enterprise to reproduce.

Still, even more crucial to grasp is the following concept. Marketing is no longer a one-way street, where value accrues only to the advertiser s benefit. To succeed with any meaningful degree of effectiveness, it must also serve as a trusted and transparent vehicle through which the user ultimately feels he or she achieves some degree of participation in (and influence over) the shape of the end-product. In other words, commonality begets community, community begets empathy, and empathy begets enthusiasm. Specifically, the kind money cannot buy, and sort which turns video game customers or shoppers in any vertical, for that matter into evangelists worth many times more than their weight in gold.

Because ultimately, no advertising campaign in this day and age can afford to remain stolid or static. Nor can a given marketer, however well informed, hope to understand the ever-changing wants and needs of their target demographic as well as members of said audience itself. Give users (especially passionate ones, the very definition of today s game players) the opportunity to join forces and color within the lines of your message, and you may be surprised what happens. They might just be happy to ignite interest in a particular campaign facet you overlooked, reboot a stale initiative or provide enough content and/or inspiration to capitalize on the unlikeliest opportunities. The bottom line: Reach out a hand to embrace your community, and anything s possible including staying one step ahead of the game itself.

Xbox 360 Fights PS3 Price Cut With Price Cut

A circular for Target this week all but confirms an Xbox 360 price cut, right on the heels of Sony’s PS3 cut to $299.  The Xbox 360 Pro comes with a 60GB hard drive and will retail for $249 with a free additional controller, while the Xbox 360 Elite makes its way to the $299.  The Xbox 360 Elite will be the only model directly competing with the PS3 at $299, with a second SKU, the Xbox 360 Arcade, retailing for $199 without a hard drive.

The price wars have officially begun, and the easiest way to show value to the consumer is to reduce your price and market the heck out of that fact.  Will Nintendo, whose Wii console has seen stagnant sales, follow suit

Microsoft Exploring 1 Vs 100 Subscription Interest?

From Joystiq:

A Joystiq tipster sent us the image seen above, which was supposedly taken from a survey on MyThoughtCounts.com. The survey asks quite simply, “If 1 vs 100 were not available as part of your Gold Membership account, how likely would you be to purchase 1 vs 100 for $15 per season (13 weeks)?” If the survey is genuine, 1 vs. 100 might not be free after all. Is this what the Season Pass was all about? 

We’re not sure what would trigger such a change of heart: perhaps the prize model isn’t as viable as Microsoft had hoped, or perhaps the number of viewers is lower than expected. Of course, it’s only a survey, and it certainly isn’t a confirmation that 1 vs. 100 will see any significant changes at all.

This sort of market research is done all the time, so bloggers should be wary of jumping to conclusions, but this does pique our interest for how well Microsoft did financially with 1 Vs 100, given the prominent Sprint sponsor.  We ve reached out for comment and will follow up with anything we learn.

Video Of The Day: Bayonetta Has No Shame

We’re not saying anything here. Just that, when Bayonetta’s ridiculous super moves were coupled with her increasing nudity, many bloggers made the joke about hoping to have a one-handed option to play the game.

Sega has made it so.  And so we’re not accused of looking into things too much, we’ll chalk up this mode to Sega really wanting players to experience the story — yeah, that’s the ticket — the story Bayonetta has to offer.

Good grief.