The gaming industry is a consumer consumer — it needs gamers who will constantly buy more games and lots of them. “They’ve got to expand their market,” says Suzie Reider, senior vice president of sales and marketing at CNET games and entertainment, according to Ad Age.
To do this, game publishers are turning to festival-like events aimed at young (18-24 years old), hard-core, male gamers. Of course, they expect their target demographic to bring along friends and girlfriends, thereby expanding their market.
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., the developers of the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo gaming franchises, recently announced the first Blizzard Convention. BlizzCon will take place on Oct. 28 and 29 in Orange County, Calif., and will feature an Invitational tournament of pro-gamers, live question and answer sessions with developers, and more.
GameSpot, a division of CNET is organizing its own festival, as well. Games And Music Experience (GAME) will be held Dec. 2 through 4 in San Francisco, Calif., and will mix concerts with a game-sampling expo.
Sony has its PlayStation Experience, a touring truck filled with 26 different kiosks featuring the software, hardware and peripherals from PlayStation, big screens, competitions and contests for PlayStation prizes.
What is driving this event marketing? The rising cost of developing games. As games become more complex and movie-like in production, the more they cost to develop. The more they cost to develop, the more they need to sell to make a profit. Therefore, the more buyers game publishers need to attract.
Reider promises that “GAME will be an attractive entertainment destination for women and older gamers.”
Along those lines the gaming industry is trying to create more games that appeal to women, as well as bring more women into the industry for their careers. Women In Games International (WIGI) was created “to promote the inclusion and advancement of women in the global games industry.” They hold an annual conference, this year slated for Sept. 10 in Seattle, to help women learn how to break into the industry.
What does this all mean for genre-related travel? It means there are more events for those who are interested to attend. It is also a sign of the times — marketing is becoming more ever-present and the line between fun events and sales expos is blurring. In addition, the speculative fiction community is opening up even more to women — something that has been developing, slowly but surely — for a few decades now. It just seems that it’s taken this long for the marketers to catch on.
The Genre Traveler recommends that you go and enjoy these events — many are free or low in cost in the hopes to entice you to spend your money on the products available there — but watch your pocket book and don’t spend money you don’t have or didn’t want to spend.
- Blizzard Entertainment’s website: www.blizard.com
- Oser, Kris and Klaasen, Abbey. (2005.) “Game Makers Turn to Festivals to Broaden Audience.” August 16, AdAge.com.
- Women In Games International’s website: www.womeningamesinternational.org
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