September 29, 2015 3 Comments
In yesterday’s post I made a flip comment about my night elf hunter falling prey to a marketing influence. It was just a joke, but it started me to thinking. I realized that, except just prior to a new release, I hardly ever see any advertising for World of Warcraft any more.
Why is that? It seems to me that a way to stop the decline in subscriptions, especially during the predictable cycles between expansions, would be to advertise the game in a way that would bring in new players. I am not a marketing professional, but I know for a fact that slick advertising works. Just ask Apple.
Activision Blizzard seems to be advertising everything but WoW these days. I mean, you can hardly visit any game-related web site without seeing over-the-top ads for Hearthstone, which, let’s admit it, is a card game! So why no WoW ads?
Actually, now that I come to think of it, even back when Blizz was running the ads featuring Mr. T, Ozzy Osbourne, William Shatner, et al., the ads seemed less targeted to a new group of potential players than they did towards keeping the ones they had and possibly getting people who already played online games to try WoW. I mean, really, Shatner saying “I’m a shaman,” doesn’t do much to entice new players who have no idea what a shaman is, right? I don’t think I have ever seen a WoW ad targeting people who don’t already love online games. This is not to say Blizz has not made them, just that I have never seen one, so if they have made them they are not in any media that I frequent, except for the pre-expansion Super Bowl ads every couple of years. And even that venue is arguably skewed towards those who already love computer games.
When subscriptions are down, why not pump up an advertising campaign designed to bring in a whole new crop of players, people who would be happy leveling through old content and who would not be continually whining about being bored? People for whom playing an MMO is a new experience? The period between expansions, in fact, would seem to be an ideal time for such a campaign. Why not put an ad in People magazine, or Better Homes and Gardens, or the Washington Post Sunday supplement? Or a short TV/streaming video spot in one of the reality series that are popular?
(Okay, okay, I know you are rolling your eyes at the Better Homes and Gardens example, but the point is to try some venues that are not frequented by veteran gamers.)
I could go all tinfoil hat here and speculate that Blizz has always not-so-secretly considered their flagship game to be for elite gamers only, and that any concessions to mass markets was only done in order to get operating capital for the “real” game and “true” players. Which would kind of explain the all-raiding all the time mentality we have now. But of course tinfoil hat theories are far beneath me *coughbullhockeycough*.
If I were the kind of lowlife that indulged in wild speculation, I might advance the theory that Activision Blizzard knows that WoW is on its way out, and that they do not want to bring in a whole new crop of players, because that becomes problematic when it comes time to pull the plug on the game. It could be a media nightmare to suddenly axe a game that you have recently made hugely popular with a whole new generation of players.
But I am not that kind of lowlife. If I were, I might go even further and speculate that Blizz is saving its advertising budget for markets in China and the Far East, because those are more lucrative these days than the Americas and Europe.
But as I said, I am not that type of lowlife.
Still, it is puzzling as to why, especially when subscriptions are in significant decline, Blizz does not deign to advertise to bring in new players.
(Short post today, as I am sitting at the dealer waiting for my car’s service to be done and it is about ready. Not to mention it is reset day, and I need to get home and grind out my LFRs while there is a chance at some decent groups.)