Back to Mythic Marketing…

March 14, 2009

We’re back to the old marketing thing again. Something I try and keep an eye on because well, it’s something I’ve meddled with in the part. Green Armadillo has been talking about things very much on my mind – Mark Jacobs and his ‘spin’ and the misguided ‘call to arms’ re-enlistment emails doing the US rounds.

As Spinks points out, the re-enlistment emails are very nicely  phrased and bring a smile to our faces. It’s clever marketing to reference people’s guilds and friends in an email asking them to return and try out the changes to the game. Mythic’s come up with some excellent marketing gimmicks since the game has released. But they also keep stabbing themselves in the feet PR-wise.

What’s the problem I hear you ask? Well, to re-enlist, returning subscribers had to enter credit card details, something that patently isn’t needed to play what’s basically a free trial of a game. We’re not a stupid audience, any time you’re asked for payment details up-front, there’s a chance that you’ll forget to cancel, or something will happen and your credit card will be charged. That’s how various cashback offers work, it’s clever, it’s savvy, but it’s also transparent. If the game stands up, then returners WILL subscribe, even if just for another month. Or they won’t, but they’ll try it again when the next content update comes in. But to offer something in this way is a little foolish, mainly because it opens you up to unnecessary criticism and concern from the playerbase. If just one person is charged accidentally, the forums will hear ALL about it – it only takes one case for the whole thing to become negative PR, rather than the positive that was expected (I imagine).

Europe doesn’t have the re-enlistment programme. In some ways I wish it did, because I know a couple of people who might be in-game with me right now if it did. But I’d not want it presented with the need for credit card details either. I’d rather tell them to use a different email and account set-up and go for the 10-day free trial! It’s just as good a showcase in some ways, though it wouldn’t allow access to their old characters.

In other marketing plans, Mythic continue to bequest marketing packages on various WAR bloggers. The Valentine’s campaign was successful and low-cost, so to send out some pen drives with images from the new areas and dungeon is good going. I heartily support this, though I think they should follow this us with all the pictures included in a newsletter for those who don’t read blogs, forums, news sites, etc and just play the game.

As for the State of the Game address. I skimmed it. I admit to that freely. I don’t really care what Mark Jacobs says anymore because it’s all so heavily spun. I didn’t link to it on Book of Grudges, because there are a multitude of blogs out there reporting it better and in more detail than I care to.

Mythic’s handling of  Warhammer Online marketing and PR control has made me wary, and I certainly don’t trust anything fully that I hear about the game anymore. That being said, I’ve greatly enjoyed my time so far in the game since patch 1.2 went in and I do look forward to coming improvements to the game. I just look at every announcement a lot more cynically than I used to, and I’m a little saddened by that.


One comment

  1. That is the tragedy, you can’t trust anything you hear from company employees anymore. It’s not their fault – as Scott Jennings pointed out a bit ago, you have to try and sell the product you’re being paid to try and sell. Unfortunately, everyone’s success is being measured in the short term – publicity being generated now, box sales being generated on launch day – and not on the long term. In the long term, your credibility matters, and everyone (yes, including Blizzard) stretches their long-term credibility with hype they can’t always deliver on.

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