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The Internet Entertainment Games

Questioning the Manifesto 25

Next Generation has a Q&A with Greg Costikyan, discussing the reveal of the ambitious Manifesto Games portal business. From the article: "If you look at almost any other medium there is a way for people to succeed with product aimed at more of a niche audience, with more manageable development costs. But that largely doesn't exist in the games industry because of the narrow nature of the retail channel, which is 'hit big or don't try at all'. My belief is that it possible to be successful with niche product. The technology is there; there are plenty of good games out there; the issue is probably about marketing. The question is, figuring out how to reach consumers and make them aware of it." We discussed the announcement yesterday. Relatedly, Next Gen also has a look at digital downloads from the developer's point of view, and from that of the digital distributors themselves. We took a look at the first part in that series on Tuesday.
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Questioning the Manifesto

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  • Word of Mouth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mikeumass ( 581062 )
    I would say that word of mouth is the most important issue when it comes to how successful a game will be. Sure some games like Doom III and Halo don't really need work of mouth, but take Snood for example. As any recenet college grad knows, that game is adicting, and you don't find out about if from websites or commercials. It is your peers that expose you too it.
    • Re:Word of Mouth (Score:4, Informative)

      by Irish_Samurai ( 224931 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @03:30PM (#13678878)
      Kinda, but your peers didn't just "happen" across it. I work real close with a couple of PR guys doing clandestine marketing for them. You can generate buzz for much less than it costs to inundate someone with branding. Not only that, but it's not evil in the sense that we don't make up your mind for you as branding attempts to do. Buzz marketing is all about placing the product in front of a key group of people. People who are the authority on your product type in their social group AND posess the curiosity and intelligence to do thier own research on a product. That way they feel like they "found" something new (which they did with a little help) and will speak about it in a very avangelical manner if they like it. Their friends WILL follow.
      • Kinda, but your peers didn't just "happen" across it. I work real close with a couple of PR guys doing clandestine marketing for them. You can generate buzz for much less than it costs to inundate someone with branding.

        Yeah, just mention it on /.

        I wonder how many people will check out the game mentioned? I probably will.

        • Bingo. But getting a story posted on /. is an entirely different beast. It's not as easy as it sounds. It's not impossible, just so simple.
          • Re:Word of Mouth (Score:3, Insightful)

            I was referring to the GP post. Someone plugged a game. Now it could be just an honest plug from a satisfied customer. I do that all the time. But it also could be the "stealth marketing" you were talking about, and that's what I was trying to imply. Believe me, I have worked with someone in the game industry and have often resisted the urge to do the same thing for his product. I don't want to call the motives of the GPP into question, but the text did seem a little "marketingy" to me.
            • No need to resist it if you honestly feel the game is good. I push my friends shit all the time, if it's good.

              I quite often tell companies, and the PR guys I work with, to toss off if the stuff they want me to push sucks. They have to use an established marketing vehicle. The people I seed stuff to would laugh in my face if I tried to pass them some of the crap I get from these guys.

              The stealth marketing really only works if the product is good, otherwise it backfires. Then you have a whole army of people p
      • Well, true word-of-mouth does happen. Does Armagetron have PR people? I see tons of people playing that around the school. Liero was huge when I was in highschool - and that's just a lone-dev freeware game.
        • Does Armagetron have PR people?

          Nah, all they have is a website hosted on sourceforge. No placement there.

          Liero was huge when I was in highschool - and that's just a lone-dev freeware game.

          Yeah, with an outlet on Gaming Universe.

          The point is, these two games didn't just get built, put up on their website and just left there for word of mouth to do it's thing. They were placed where they would get noticed. True word of mouth is VERY rare.
    • Re:Word of Mouth (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Psychor ( 603391 )
      FYI, Snood is packaged with known adware/spyware. I'll let the Slashdot audience draw their own conclusions.
    • So would this thread be the on-topic place to promote indie games we're fans of?

      Star Chamber [] has a small, die-hard fan base, but now the developer has merged with a slightly larger company, and they've gotten together with an indie publisher (Matrix Games). I'm hopeful that SC will grow large with their upcoming release.

      Anyway, I agree with the article: the key value provided by an internet publisher will be advertising. If that brings in the bucks, indie games have a shot. Otherwise, they'll always be

  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @03:24PM (#13678827) Homepage

    Let's not forget that there are plenty of "niche" games that survive via downloads, the shareware model, or downloadable client. EVE Online is a perfect example of a niche game that is distributed primarily (I admit I have no numbers to back this up, so I could easily be wrong) to the best of my knowlege through a freely downloadable client.

    IMHO Shareware is still the most successful strategy. I downloaded (and later bought) demos of DOOM, Duke Nuke'm, Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, etc. Of course most of those were available through traditional retail channels, but they also predated broadband. The reality is that if I could have commercially-downloaded the full games I would have.

  • by faloi ( 738831 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @03:51PM (#13679104)
    It's true, it's getting that little bit of exposure that's tough. I'd like to believe that on-line game reviewers that are part of larger networks would be the perfect way. You write a game, send it to them for review, they devote a little bit of space and if your product is good you're on your way. What's probably closer to happening is you write a game, send it to a reviewer for them to work in. If you catch the reviewer in an off month, you're set. However, if it's the month he just got Doom III, Halo 2 and some other spifftastic game (or some game that takes a long time to get through) your product gets back-burnered for the bigger things.

    Maybe some sort of third party site would be good. Basically, indie developers pitch in for time on a site where the reviews are done strictly by non-professional reviewers (i.e. us). You go in, see what's new and the genres you like, download it and give it a shot. If it's good, give it a high mark and inspire other people to give it a shot. I dunno, maybe there is such a site and I don't know about it.
    • "Maybe some sort of third party site would be good."

      This isn't a bad idea, but it's already come up a lot amongst indie developers. The main problem is it takes a lot of work to make the site, maintain the site, and promote it. An indie review site like GameTunnel [] for example has had thousands of dollars poured into it in order to make it a moderately successful destination for game players. The head guy there, Russell Carroll, will set up a table at shows to promote the site, put out press releases li

  • Here's a marketing approach that'd work. At first you don't need all the subscribers in the world, but in the long run you're going to try for them. Release a game thats playable and sort of fun, and with the revenue you get, use it to improve the game. As you improve the game, more people will come on board, allowing you to improve the game further. You don't need everyone to play your game at launch, but if you have a game that'd last the test of time, years even decades, then you could make big money.
    • Hey, that's not bad. I read about this awesome game idea, uh...Gobots Online I think. It could possibly make billions of dollars, but the designer for it is so lazy and unemployed that it'll probably never get made. But if he could release just a GUI for it, then 1 person might think, "Hey, I'll pay $30,000 to play with that GUI, and then maybe the developer might add a cool game later. I have the attention span to keep checking back on a crappy game to see if it'll ever be good. Oh, and True A.I. and all t
  • Imagine a website that only contains good indie titles and is advertised and pushed so that people actually know about it. The power of google means anyone and everyone can crack open BlitzBasic and make a rubbish [insert popular game] clone and catch unwary net travellers (not that I'm slagging off BlitzBasic, it's a wonderful package, just makes things almost too easy). They then understandably form the opinion that indie games are low quality, buggy uninspired wastes of time and don't ever bother again.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments