Love Hate Relationship With Sports Game.

It has been 5 years since I started playing EA's NHL franchise where I started with NHL 07. The unique thing about NHL 07 was that it was introducing something that hockey games hadn't done in what the called the skill stick. Before, hockey games only used a button to shoot and a button to deke. With the skill stick players were now given full control of their players stick which to someone who watched hockey seemed like an amazing revelation. Fast forward 5 years and NHL 13 showcases their new skating engine while 2K's hockey series is now non-existent leaving EA to be the sole provider of hockey simulation games. The thing about NHL 07 that drew me to start playing the EA series was that innovated gameplay mechanic that was driven by them wanting to one up 2k in the hockey simulation genre. My problem with the current state of hockey simulation games and sports games in general, is that innovation has been repressed thanks to a lack of competition.

I hate to play the NHL games because of the fact that I am just feeding a cashcow for EA where they just take my money and don't provide me with something that is new but simply just add some tweaks and innovations that could have been all included last years addition but because of the fact that the game has to be annualized, they hold back those features for future titles. On the other hand these games are not terrible, they are still pretty good. They are a solid game that delivers what I want from a hockey game on a base level. Small complaints aside, these games are overall good. But imagine what they could achieve if they didn't have to release a new one each year but possibly every 2 years where the middle year would receive a patch that could update rosters and tweak game play bugs and stuff. If they wanted to make money from it they could even charge a fee for those updates if they really wanted to.

No matter what I say they will continue to release a new NHL game every year because I will still pay them. What needs to happen is for another company to come in with the a product that challenges the NHL games. It doesn't have to be specifically using the NHL players but it could be nameless players with gameplay that is better than what EA's games offer. I debate with myself every year if I should stop buying these games but in the end I do. I guess really the only person I have to blame is myself.


Video Game Marketing: Mass Effect 3 Marketing

Mass Effect 3 Marketing

Mass Effect was one of the early Xbox 360 games that started a wave of great western RPG's during a time where JRPG's ruled that genre. Mass Effect 2 was a great success getting numerous game of the year awards from various websites. Mass Effect 3 has not been the success that is predecessor was and a lot of that comes down to what Mass Effect 3's marketing goal was. Mass Effect 2 sold 2 millions copies in its first week while Mass Effect 3 sold 1.85 million in it's first week. Though those numbers are nothing to scoff at, the question lies in why an established brand like Mass Effect had worst sales in its finale than in the second act.

Was Mass Effect 3 Marketed The Way EA Wanted?

EA was clearly looking for Mass Effect 3 to be a home run and bring in the most money out of the entire series. Their approach to doing so was to market the game towards the "average Joe" gamer who is into shooters and action games. The achieved their goal through their marketing campaign. They were able to show off the parts of Mass Effect 3 that would appeal to those consumers and made sure to not scare them away with other elements of the game. EA accomplished their goal but did not get the results they wanted.

Was Mass Effect 3 Marketed In the Right Way?

Even the box art was marketed to the masses.

Mass Effect 3 was marketed to the "average Joe" gamer. To do this, EA had to ignore the wants and needs of their previous consumers. Marketing is broken down into segments of consumers that the product is catering towards and with Mass Effect 3, EA wanted to go into a segment of consumers that seemed to have more potential customers which meant more potential profit. They decided that it would be a better decision to target that section of the market and ignore the segment that had made up a majority of the companies profit from previous games. EA's rational was that they people who were loyal to the game would stay no matter what and the amount of gamers they would lose would be easily covered by the amount of consumers they gained from the new target market. Needless to say the plan backfire. There was a fundamental flaw to EA's rational that caused their marketing to fail.

The 3 in Mass Effect 3

Numbers in the names of any product or service represents that it is either an upgrade to the current line of products or services or that it is a continuation of a product or service. In electronics and software, the number after the product represents an upgrade. The higher the number, the more likely a consumer will flock to those products because in the mind of the consumer, the latest and greatest product is the one that you want to get. This happens a lot with Apple products and video cards especially. When it comes to mediums like movies, comics, or video games, the higher the number associated with the product the less likely a consumer will go to that product because our brains have been trained to associate numbers in these mediums to a continuation of the product. The consumer believes that to see Movie 2, they need to have watched Movie 1 because they believe that knowledge of the previous product is needed to understand the current one. This was a major factor in why i believe Mass Effect 3 was not appealing to the "average Joe" gamer. Most people will not jump into the finale of a game without attempting to understand the games that lead to it and because games are so time consuming and especially the Mass Effect games, many of the potential customers just passed on the product.

Lessons For EA

EA needs to become less greedy and more careful with their marketing decisions. They assumed their marketing and the brand name were strong enough to cultivate a new segment of the market to adopt the product but failed to realize the mentality of that market. EA should have just let Bioware build their game and allow the game to speak as the marketing.


Video Game Marketing: Mass Effect 3 DLC

For a long time now i have been contemplating what i could do for a blog on Giantbomb and decided that i would try to do something that i am learning at the moment in college. I am majoring in marketing and would like to get into entertainment marketing as a career choice. So i plan on posting about different marketing situations that happen in the industry and giving my opinion about what happened.

Mass Effect 3 Day One DLC

With the release of Mass Effect 3 came the backlash from the community about the day one DLC, from ashes. Gamers were outraged by the fact that the DLC was not only not included in the retail copies of the game but some people reportedly found pieces of that DLC on the disc. EA had responded to these accusations:

From Ashes is a 600 MB+ download with all new content, including the mission on Eden Prime, new dialogue options and conversations with Javik, new cinematics, the Prothean weapon, and new appearances for all squad members. All of the above content was completed while the main game was in certification and are not available on the disc.

As stated previously, in order to seamlessly integrate Javik into the core campaign, certain framework elements and character models needed to be put on disc. We did something similar with Zaeed and Kasumi in Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect has become such a huge brand name in the industry and has such a strong cult following that it Bioware is being put under a microscope and every decision they make has found one criticism or another. As marketers, it is our job to listen to feedback from customers and decide the best course of action for the future. In this case we have a community of gamers outraged that they are being forced to pay for something that they believe should be on the disc as part of the retail game. It was smart of EA to not let this blow out of proportion and just come out and explain what the findings on the disc were and that this was the best course of action for them.

When you have a brand like EA and Bioware, the perception that gamers have about those two brands are fairly negative. When you talk about EA, you talk about a company who is now using the name of companies they purchase to fuel their sales (Using the Bioware name on different studios). Bioware was looked at as the saviour of RPGs but now has become a "poison" to the RPG genre (dumbing down RPG games like they did with Dragon Age 2). It is almost impossible for them to not be attacked by gamers about any decision they make whether it is about DLC or about the endings of their games and EA and Bioware to their credit kept their composure and did not buckle under the enormous amount of backlash.

Did EA and Bioware do the right thing?

Yes they did and they handled the situation like true professionals. A lot of companies have changed course because of the feedback they received about their games and they things associated with their game. XCOM being developed by 2K is a game that received a lot of feedback and changed the brand perception by adding XCOM Enemy Unknown to calm those who feared XCOM was being changed for the worst. It is tough to handle all that negative feedback and stay the course but EA and Bioware are handling it very well. If you think otherwise let me know and we can create a conversation about what they could have done instead.

Next Post: The marketing of Mass Effect 3


LA Noire , Good Or Bad?

After finishing LA Noire, i was left with a feeling of sadness because of the events that occurred. Team Bondi did what few other games can do and that is tell a story that has very Adult themes to it and is engaging to the gamer. Many games try very hard to have a strong narrative but seem to fall short because telling a story in games is different than telling it through movies or a TV Series. LA Noire isn't without its faults but what i admire most about the game is its ambition to give gamers something new and refreshing especially for the mature audience in the gaming community. Peoples perception of video gamers has always been that they are childish and immature and i think with LA Noire, Team Bondi has shown that games can be very much for the older audience. The game part of LA Noire still needs tweaking as i found sometimes i would be thrown out of the world because of actions that were clearly put in to remind us that it is a game but if Team Bondi were to work on their formula for the game while keeping the atmosphere and everything else i can see LA Noire being an amazing new IP. It is still great but still needs work. 
What do you guys think of LA Noire? 


Gears of War 3 multiplayer impressions

                 For people who bought Bulletstorm: Epic Edition or pre-ordered Gears of War 3 at participating retailers, the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta officially went online for them on Monday April 18 2011. With months before the game is officially released, developer Epic Games decided to hold a multiplayer beta to help iron out problems in their multiplayer. Past Gears games have proven that this beta was something much needed because of how many bugs and how much imbalanced game play there was in previous Gears multiplayer. This will help craft a balanced and fun multiplayer experience for when the game is released while at the same time giving Gears fans a small taste of what to expect from Gears of War 3. This game marks the end of a trilogy in the Gears universe, ending the storyline for Marcus Fenix. Having played roughly 2 hours of the multiplayer beta, here are some of my thoughts of what we can expect from Gears of War 3 multiplayer when it arrives September 20, 2011.

                The game itself looks better than its predecessor   but because it is a multiplayer beta, I can't really tell you much more other than that the game looks great and the different types of maps that are available to play in the beta make for a different looking Gears of War game than the past two. There are 4 different maps available in the beta. Each map presents a drastically different venue that makes the game feel different each time a new map is played. Thrashball takes place in a stadium where players spawn on opposite sides and a scoreboard hangs in the middle eventually dropping to the ground and kill those unfortunate enough to be underneath. Old town is an large map that doesn't have a linear feel to it but instead feels more open than the rest of the other maps. It allows for more flanking which makes players have to pay attention to their surroundings. Trenches is a map that has a lot of low and high grounds for players to use to their advantages. The neat thing about that map is that at certain points, a sandstorm will blind players making it hard to see giving an added difficulty to the map. Checkout is a small grocery store with a lot of walls to take cover behind which makes it a typical Gears of War map.

 Checkout is one of 4 maps that you can play in the multiplayer beta

 The multiplayer has one mode to start with, team death match, but later will add king of the hill and capture the leader to the beta later. In team death match, opposing teams look to kill their opponents until they have no more respawns. The match starts out with each team getting fifteen respawns each. Every time a player dies, the team loses a respawn point. Once the respawn points reach five, that team can no longer respawn meaning that once they die, they are out of the round. By doing this, the ends of matches can become a tense experience. I had a match that ended with one of my teammates versus three opponents and it eventually came down to a one on one match up where my teammate lost. The whole time I was on edge hoping he would pull out a victory. This reaction is what Epic hopes to get out of players with this type of team death match.

                Before you enter a match you must choose your load out. In the load out screen you decide what type of rifle you want and what type of shotgun you want as well as your character for each faction. There are three rifles to choose from, lancer, hammer burst, and the retro lancer. The lancer and hammer burst return from previous Gears games and feel similar to previous versions but with a few tweaks. The hammer burst reticule is different making it more unique compared to the other 2 rifles and it also sports an iron sight for more accurate aiming. 

 The retro lancer in action

The lancer remains the same but the most intriguing edition to the rifles is the new retro lancer. The retro lancer is similar to the lancer but is a burst rifle that does more damage and lacks a chainsaw. Instead, it has a bayonet which you can use to spear enemies by holding down the B button. During matches, I found that I would always want to go back to either the lancer or hammer burst because the retro lancer was not doing a good job at killing people. The recoil on the retro lancer makes the aiming reticule become incredibly inaccurate after one burst and its damage doesn't do enough to take down opponents quicker than the other two rifles. The bayonet is a charging melee but is hard to pull off and doesn't impale the opponent unless you have built enough speed which makes it hard to use in close encounters. There was one point where I had run straight into an opponent with the bayonet , ricocheted off and was left helpless as my opponent used his gnasher to kill me.

 Thrashball Cole with the sawed-off shotgun

                The game still revolves around knowing where the special weapons are on the map and getting to them first to gain an upper hand. Many special weapons return from Gears of War 2 but there are some new additions   too. The digger launcher is one of the new special weapons that shoots an explosive in the ground and it digs through the ground until exploding at the end. It is a very effective weapon at getting past cover because it digs underground and is fun to use. They have also added a new grenade called the incendiary grenade that leaves two trails of flames that burn opponents, damaging them as long as their standing in the flames. It’s a nice alternative to the frag grenade.

                When you start matchmaking, you are always put into a full room that is filled with players and bots. When players enter the game, they replace the bots you are facing so it makes matchmaking faster and allows for players to play games instead of waiting in lobbies forever. Epic has also added an overhead view of the map that can be viewed when you have died or at the begin of the match to show you the map layout and where those special weapons are as well as where your teammates are. You can also locate you teammates by pressing the LB button which highlights where your teammates are so you can run and assist them if they are in trouble.  

                The multiplayer beta is only part of an entire game that we will get to see in September but if it is any indication of the final product, I would say that Gears of War 3 is looking really good. There are some problems that need to be fixed but that is the point of the beta so hopefully when the game comes out, we will see these problems gone and that the multiplayer becomes even better than it is now. I'd like to know your impressions of the Gears beta so please leave them in the comments below.


Mortal Kombat/ Portal 2.

With 2 big games (3 if you count Socom 4 but i don't) being released tomorrow, many of us can finally relive our past playing Mortal Kombat and exercise our brain playing Portal 2 by ourself or with a friend. Are you picking up Mortal Kombat or Portal 2 or Both? 


Super Street Fighter 4, I Need Advice.

I decided to come back to Super Street Fighter 4 after a long absence from the game and realized that I am now in a learning hole that is tough to get out of. I am not that big of a fighting game fan but with the recent resurgence of fighting games, I decided to give them a second try and though I don’t like them, I do enjoy playing them. When Super Street Fighter 4 came out, I played it for roughly a month with most of my play coming from the arcade mode and not online play (though I did play some online matches) but after a while found that I didn't enjoy playing the game anymore so I stopped playing it. 1 year and a couple of months after its initial release I decided to go back to it because I was bored and found that after not playing the game for a long time, I came back with the same joy that I once had for the game. This time around I decided to get more information on how to get better at SSFIV, learning how to use charge characters and general strategies about SSFIV. After feeling good about defeating higher levels of computers in the arcade mode, I decided to jump online to test my new found strengths against human players. Turns out that after a year of the game being out, the only people who are playing the game online are people who are really good. I knew this fact when I jumped online and now I have a lot of examples of good players that I can learn from but I was just wondering if there were anything I should do to get better at SSFIV or fighting games in general? Practice makes perfect is one that I know all too well now but like should I just focus on one character or learn to use them generally before sticking with one character? Any type of advice would help. 


The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings

With the The Witcher 2 : Assassin of Kings coming out next month I was wondering what everyone thought about the first game, The Witcher? I just recently got into PC gaming and saw that The Witcher was a game that was highly reviewed when it came out (Especially the enhanced addition) and decided to buy it when it was on sale on steam but have yet to play it. Should I play it before I play the new Witcher or do should I just wait for the Witcher 2 see if I like it and then decide from there if I want to play the original? Let me know what you all thought of the The Witcher. 


How my backlog of games became a backlog of games

With a slow week in major video game releases recently, I went back to my ever growing backlog of games that I have accumulated throughout the years and had forgotten, other than time constraints, why I had never been able to finish those games. After about half an hour with some of my old games I began to realize why these games have been collecting dust and it led me to a couple of key reasons on why I have so many backlog games.

Many of the games in my backlog were not big releases but were good games that I wanted to give a shot because either it looked interesting initially or the word of mouth about the game was positive.  The reason many of them were just good was because their concepts and game play features were not  overly used as they may be now. Those games used a familiar formula but executed it in a way that was not bad but was not mind blowing either. After so many games that release with the same formula have come out, you begin to feel as if the game are dated compared to the currents games on the market. With me after I feel tired of a certain formula in a game, it takes me a while before I can go back and enjoy that formula of again (look at Call of Duty games and the shooter genre as an example).

Graphics are not the only thing that make games amazing but they are a significant part of a games presentation. Many people can always play Mario and say that games don't need amazing graphics but just need to have great game play but in today's industry, we've been exposed to the potential of visuals in games. We have standards that must be met for a game to look presentable. If I am to play a game months or years after its release and then see a game like Crysis 2, when I go back to the games before Crysis 2 it's hard to play that game because you constantly just dissect the games visuals for being not as good as Crysis 2's graphics were. Of course there are always exceptions especially when it comes to games that have a certain artistic style to them that are timeless but when I try to play games that have old graphics I can't help but not be able to play it.

I enjoy games that aren’t great but aren't terrible. The most recent game that I can remember being mediocre but I enjoyed playing was Alpha Protocol. When the game came out and critics ripped it for being average, I was disappointed. But even after reading all the reviews and hearing peoples thoughts about the game I still decided to give it a try and ended up enjoying the game. Sometimes there are games that get amazing reviews but I end up not liking them. Killzone 2 was a game that many shooter fans enjoyed and being a shooter fan myself I believed that I would enjoy it to. Critics praised it and that led me to purchasing Killzone 2 but after playing a couple of hours of the game, I did not enjoy the game.

Video games are all about personal opinions but we look to other people for indications on which games are good and which are bad. A lot of the time, my back catalogue of games are ones that were praised in their time but I was not able to play it for whatever reason and through that I learned that just because someone says that the game is good, doesn't mean it is but without direction from reviewers and other people, I would never know that. I usually end up purchasing these games when they go on sale and the price is discounted greatly. I will end up buying them because I see reviews and the price and when I end up playing it, I realize that I do not like it and then end up staying in my backlog and collect dust.

These are the biggest culprits to how my backlog of games comes to be but I'm curious, does everyone agree with me? do you have other reasons for your backlog of games?   or does a magic fairy keep putting games in your backlog without your knowledge? Let me know.


WWE All Stars Preview

So i just picked up a copy of WWE All Stars and so far am really liking it. I like how i can just go into a match and just pick up and play but i wish there was a tutorial to tell you how to do certain things like countering aerial moves and finishers without me having to stumble upon it while playing matches. I've done a lot of the fantasy warfares and do enjoy the montages at the beginning of each match up but i wish there were more wrestlers to match up. The roster is fine but there are some big omissions that i wish would have been in the game rather than having to force me to buy it from DLC. I wanted the entrances to be a bit more crazy over the top and longer than they are in the game now but thats just because i like to get pumped when i hear Ultimate Warriors music or Triple H's theme. I feel they cut entrances way too short. More match types and more modes would have been nice and more story mode selections other than the 3 given (Undertaker, Randy Orton and DX). I don't want this game to be bogged down by trying to have a constant story going but i would love to see a crazy over the type story mode that fit with the style of the game. I feel like if you're going to have legends from the past and not have them speak on the mic ( though i know some of them can't unfortunately) makes the experience less memorable. If anything, just get Macho Man to do an interview and i would be happy with that. 
So far it is a game that has little to offer in modes and match types but the gameplay does feel good though it could be tweaked a little. So far so good in my quest to come back to wrestling games after a long hiatus.  For those who have played it, tell me what you think of the game? what would you like to have or take out?

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