Exclusive: Marketing Strategies Take Shape For Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft

By Steve Peterson

This E3 week has begun to reveal the marketing strategies that will take Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft into the holiday season and beyond. While the press events have been revealing, there are also clues to be gleaned from the booths of the three companies and from articles being posted. While fan reaction to E3 news has been intense, it’s far too early to predict how or even if these reactions will influence marketing strategies.

Microsoft was the first of the Big Three to have its press event, on Monday morning at the Galen Center on the USC campus. A crowd of thousands watched as Microsoft executives talked first about the Xbox 360 (revealing a new case design) and then the star of the show, the Xbox One. A number of exclusive games were shown, the usual array of developers and publishers were trotted out, and at the end Microsoft announced the price: $499.

Later that day at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Sony hosted its event. Journalists were invited to spend two hours in the parking lot prior to the event, enjoying free drinks and free food from a number of gourmet food trucks. (Note to companies planning PR events: giving journalists free food and drink prior to the event tends to put them in a good mood.) Sony began its event by talking about the PS Vita, which indicates that Sony still wants to make this hardware a success — giving it prime position at this event is essentially re-launching the device.

Sony then devoted a good chunk of the presentation to upcoming PS3 titles before getting to the PS4. The games received most of the attention, with Sony displaying a number of exclusive titles (claiming nearly 40 by the end of next year, compared to Microsoft’s 13). Unlike Microsoft, Sony took pains to present a number of indie titles and proclaimed its love for indies, noting that indies are allowed to self-publish on the PS4. Finally, Sony unveiled the hardware: Like the Xbox One, the PS4 is an angular black box with a mix of glossy and matte black surfaces.

Sony saved its zingers for the last, making direct comparisons to Microsoft (without naming them): Sony would not restrict used game sales in any way, and the PS4 has no requirement to be connected to the Internet. Also, Sony’s PlayStation Plus service would extend to the PS4 without requiring you to get another subscription, and the PS4 will be getting a free version of DriveClub. Finally, the hard price was delivered: $399, which the crowd applauded.

The following morning, Nintendo delivered its non-event event by ushering journalists into its E3 booth to stand amongst the demo stations for its upcoming Wii U games. Nintendo’s mainstay Reggie Fils-Aime (introduced by Mario himself, speaking from a video screen) gave a brief speech pointing out that regardless of all the attention that might be focused on hardware, it’s playing the game that’s important. That’s why Nintendo chose to bring journalists into its booth, to bring them closer to the games. Designers (including Shigeru Miyamoto) spoke about their games, then journalists got the chance to play and ask questions of the designers.

Nintendo did the best it could without new hardware to announce, but obviously media attention has been focused on the new console introductions from Sony and Microsoft. Still, Nintendo’s new titles looked good, though not all the titles that were shown would be available this year.

The consumer-focused game media is focused on picking winners and losers at E3. Sure, it’s true that Sony has received a better popular response from assembled journalists and from the hardcore gaming audience – so far. Winning the E3 popularity contest is not the same as generating revenue this holiday season. It’s important to remember that any perceived flaws for either Sony or Microsoft are mostly policy issues or pricing issues, which can be easily changed.

It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that all three companies will sell a good number of consoles over the holidays. While there will probably be one console that sells more than the others, that’s not going to affect third-party publishers much. Most of them are making games for both platforms. Activision won’t care whether someone buys a Call of Duty:Ghosts for the PS4 or the Xbox One, as long as they buy a copy. The days when picking the right new console to back are over for publishers; they pick multiple platforms, and spread risks more widely.

Nintendo is the publisher with the least third-party support, and it’s likely to remain that way. Nintendo is used to being the odd one out, and again it’s not really that important as long as the company can turn a good profit. Nintendo’s fortunes, for good or ill, no longer determine the fate of the iundustry the way they did twenty years ago. Nintendo’s sales represent a small fraction of the overall game industry revenues due to the massive growth and expansion of the game business worldwide.

The marketing battles for the three consoles are just beginning. More than that, none of the three manufacturers announced any sort of price cuts on existing hardware, which most analysts expect to happen before Christmas. Analysts expect price cuts on the Xbox 360, the PS3, the PS Vita, the Wii and the Wii U. Those will likely be made later this summer, or perhaps in September. Any pricing moves will have to be in place before holiday shopping begins in earnest in November.

Quantic Dream Shows Animation Quality And Hilarity In Dark Sorcerer Demo

Last year, Quantic Dream released a tech demo for the PS3 system called Kara, showing off the quality of animation possible on the system while also conveying a short effective drama about a robot gaining self consciousness. This year, their PS4 tech demo entitled “The Dark Sorcerer” still shows off the impressive visuals and animation possible on the PS4, but does so in a more comedic fashion, starting off promising to be an epic fantasy story, and quickly changing into a funny anecdote about an actor forgetting his lines mid-shoot.


Destiny E3 Trailer Gives Insight Into Story And Enemies

The trailer begins by showing the last city on earth, and a mysteirous orb called “The Traveller,” as story elements are beginning to become clear for Destiny, Bungie’s first post-Halo game. The trailer shows off what some of the gameplay will look like as well as the baddies featured outside of the safe walls of the city.


Walking Dead 400 Days DLC Is A New Take On The Game

The newest episode for Telltale’s hit game the Walking Dead, aptly titled 400 Days, saw a new trailer today. The trailer shows that the episode will follow the different groups of people who take refuge in a truck stop over the course of 400 days during the zombie outbreak. Considering the source material, tensions will run high, people will die and zombies will wreak havoc over the course of these 400 days. The episode will be available on PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita, PC, and Mac soon.


This Week’s [a]list Jobs – June 12

[a]list daily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings. To see last week’s [a]list jobs click here.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

10 Things The New Mac Pro Looks Like According To Twitter

Yesterday Apple announced a completely new Mac Pro with an unusual tube-like design at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. The design is an extreme departure from the old metal tower and the reactions on Twitter have been priceless; users have been comparing the revamped design to everything from a futuristic toilet paper roll to Darth Vader’s tissue dispenser. Here’s a compilation of some of the best knee-jerk reactions to the new technology.


















Source: Mashable

Sir Painhammer Makes A Masterpiece In The E3 Trailer For Mighty Quest For Epic Loot

Where many trailers today at E3 opted to tell epic stories or convey the seriousness of ravaged worlds, Ubisoft opted to go another route for its comedic tower defense/adventure game The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. The trailer gives the hilarious account of filming a documentary for our hero Sir Painhammer and his life defending his loot from would-be attackers.


iOS 7 Supports Third-Party Game Controllers

According to the keynote presentation from Apple’s WWDC conference, the newest iteration of Apple’s iOS will directly support games through one of the 1500 new APIs the country introduced. Very few details about the ability to develop controllers were shown at the conference, and the announcement itself was only relegated to part of a single slide. Despite this, it’s still an impressive step forward into turning the iPhone and iPad into a full-fledged gaming device.

As more and more full-featured games (see: Deus Ex: The Fall) come out for smart phones and mobile devices, the ability to use controllers on the device is important, and the ability to develop for controllers on iOS is a huge step forward for development of games on Apple’s devices.

Not an actual device

Rumors continue that Apple has been developing a separate gaming controller in its labs. Could we see such a device for the holidays along with an upgraded Apple TV that has an App Store connected to it That would be a very simple way for Apple to immediately become a major factor in the holiday console wars.


Amazon’s Advertising Business Outsells Twitter

According to estimates from eMarketer, media giant Amazon has raked in a whopping $450 million in advertising revenue last year: and it’s expected to go up by another half to $660 by the end of this year. In comparison, Twitter’s advertising service is expected to generate $580 million for themselves from advertising. In the grand scheme of things, advertising is only a small part of the site’s income: it brought in an impressive $61.1 billion in income last year alone, although profits have been hard to come by. The rate of advertising growth for Amazon is significant as it continues to skyrocket in sales.

The majority of these ads come from advertising on its own site, running multiple ads on every Amazon page. In addition, Amazon is selling a massive amount of stock on the site for almost any conceivable interest, so it can reach a massive audience of people across a broad demographic. The biggest generator of ad revenue for Amazon comes from ads placed on search engine result pages, leading to consumers looking for a product on Google right into Amazon to purchase their goods.

Marketers would do well to remember that it’s not just about who views your ads, it’s about their likelihood of purchasing your product. Amazon is clearly scoring well on that axis when people move directly to the sales page from seeing an ad.

Source: Mashable