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OPINION: Spending money to make money

Michael French
OPINION: Spending money to make money

Big money being pledged on Q4 drive; Bethesda is reaching the mainstream

There’s just a £16m difference between 2011’s big games marketing pot and 2010’s. With at least £165m set aside to promote the big Q4 games this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking we haven’t just come out of some seriously tough times for games retail.

But we have.

And now the marketing money is being spent on the sure bets. Cash is not being wasted this year.And while there may not be that many fewer games coming out this year than the last, there are a lot less middling ones. The could-do-wells and outside-bets are lacking from the release schedule.

Instead, the weeks between now and Christmas Day are punctuated by Batman, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Pokémon, Assassin’s Creed, Sonic, Uncharted, Need For Speed, Forza, Kinect Sports, Dance Central, Saints Row, Star Wars, Elder Scrolls, Zelda, and not one, not two, but three games starring Mario. Even GoldenEye and L.A. Noire are double (or triple) dipping – just earlier in the week we had Just Dance 3.

The good news is that, no matter how safe the market becomes, it doesn’t get any noisier. So we’re all hoping for another Merry Christmas – but this time the trade has pulled out the cheque book to see if we can spend our worries away. Maybe money can buy happiness after all.

ALL THE RAGE

I had two different contacts from other industries pick my brains about games last week. They had the same question for me: ‘Shall I pick up Rage this weekend?’

Publishers take note:?whatever Bethesda is doing to cut through with its new IP this year – to the extent where it is catching the eye of book publishers and musicians otherwise uninterested in games – it is the right thing. Especially in light of the glut of familiar names mentioned above.

First they had decent summer hit Brink and now Rage, a game with real blockbuster potential. Both games made a dent in the charts at a time when other publishers see new ideas as anathema. This is not a publisher that will settle for a dance game to pad out the portfolio.

Sure, Bethesda doesn’t have as many games as most, has super-competent studios and knows its target audience inside-out. But that makes any achievement in this market more hard-won. These days gamers don’t part with their cash easily as we were once used to.

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Tags: video games , marketing , christmas , spend

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