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Monday, August 29, 2005

Adventures in Advertising

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No, I'm not talking about the Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo ad in Planetside.

My topic today is this recent SOE promotion. Before I start my rant, I'd like to say that it is a great promotion in concept. I'm happy to see SOE trying to increase the subscriber base. In fact, tomorrow, in the spirit of fairness, I will give a list of reasons why I think people should play EQII. My issue today is with the execution of this promotion.

Let's play a little game. Which of these imaginary ads do you think is better:

Ad #1: Read Aggro Me - It's awesome!

Ad #2: Read Aggro Me - It doesn't suck anymore!

Ad #3: Read Aggro Me - Tell your friends who stopped reading Aggro Me because it sucked to come back because now it doesn't suck anymore, I swear, plus here's a bag of gummi bears.

Okay, that was just an example. We all know Aggro Me never sucked, right kids?

But here's my point. Ad #1 is more effective than Ad #2 and Ad #2 is more effective than Ad #3.

I quote from the EQIIPlayers main page, "EverQuest II is growing, and we're listening to what our players want from their gaming experience. Now players who have left EverQuest II can come back and and experience all the improvements in a special free 7-day trial subscription."

Way to accentuate the negative. There are two negatives implied in this ad. First, that the game had issues to begin with. And, perhaps more importantly, that players have been leaving in enough numbers to warrant this promotion. That second point has a negative hit on current players as well as potential ones. Overall, I just think it comes off as a little desperate, which we all know is a turn-off.

Simply by changing the "improvements" to "fantastic additions" and just not referring to players who have left in the main copy would be a better ad in my opinion. Also, and I know this is minor, there are two and's in the line "come back and and experience all the improvements." I know that's nitpicky but seriously, spellcheck catches double and's like that.

My second issue is with the factual accuracy of the ad copy. They
come out with this winner: "With new features such as vitality, your character can double the experience earned." It is my understanding that vitality was always in the game and it is hardly a new feature. Sure, a vitality indicator was added but according to this list of changes that was back in February 17, 2005. And, again, that was just an indicator, not the actual mechanic of vitality, which existed previously (as far as I know from day one). So what is this ad talking about?

And then we have this gibberish: "Now there are more rewards for solving quests and defeating enemies in EverQuest II. From ancient tomes that unlock secret quests to rare equipment that will make your gear the talk of any guild, this is the kind of loot you've been asking for!"

Am I missing something? I play Everquest II at least every other night and I swear I honestly have no idea what they are talking about here. I have not noted any major changes to loot except that the vendor trash has been changed to "ingots" from whatever it was before (which I find more dull by the way).

Here's a tip: let the devs at least read the ad copy instead of having someone who apparently never plays the game try to churn it out. There have been many fantastic changes in EQII so let's focus on the positive and get things right.

If you think this was a great ad or I'm wrong in my analysis please let me know. As I said, I'll be trying to sell you on EQII myself tomorrow.


Blogger Anskiere said...

When I first saw that ad on the site, I scoffed at it. It was because of what you were talking about, how it says "for players that have left". I was thinking, "wtf, why would they want to advertise that (seemingly) a lot of players have quit EQ2?"

12:31 AM  
Blogger cyan said...

I think most people who enjoyed the game but left it, really will migrate back to it as expansions come out (aka: natural ebb and flow of MMORPG players/customers, I think people will return to a game more easily after a new commercial expansion comes out). I have a feeling that the people who actually "left for good" probably did so for a reason that Sony will never be able to mitigate (i.e. something external to the game that deals with SOE's business/game dev decisions, not "fresh content" issues).

I don't know who controls the marketing for this, but I am perplexed as to why they would do this BEFORE the expansion, and not AFTER the expansion comes out. If someone did come back I am sure all they will hear after 9/13 is how cool the expansion is (and thus feel they should fork over the $30 to see the complete "new EQ2") I think that would be more of an allure than the
2 adventure packs they might have missed (which are good in their own right, imho) but not anything that people will constantly talk about in game (which is a form of organic promotion via subscriber base).


EQ2-Daily.com Podcast

12:50 AM  
Anonymous ell said...

I could not agree more. This is really bad advertising. My first reaction was that they couldn't be that desparate. My second reaction was that, even if they were that desperate, they should not show it like that in the open.

Furthermore, what the point? There is a new expansion coming out. That's more than enough to bring back players.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Twodragons said...

True, talking about the negatives may not be the best business practice.

But a worse business practice is not disclosing the facts and truth. If SOE were to flaunt things and not reveal actual stats, they would get hammered by the other side of the coin for being misleading. "Why don't they tell us the truth about lost players?!", we would chant.

At least I can give them credit for being up front that folks have left, and SOE want them back.

One reason to get the returning players back now is to hit them with the pre-DoF hype. Otherwise they won't buy what they don't know about.

I can see an ad coming from WoW, "Go play EQ2, our servers can't handle the load anymore." :)

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off I love your blog.

Anyways they seem to be following the same idea FFXI did a few months back, once numbers lowered to EQ2 and WoW they tossed it in as a way to boost numbers and it shockingly worked rather well. The responce was so big the registration servers crashed for 2 days. Not saying that people will come flocking back by the thousands but it is deff. the action that their low player base would need, I just wish it was worded better, heh. Hopefully through the mask of BS and fluff, the returning players will see that this game has greatly improved, I have been around since day one and am now in the DoF beta, this game gets better every month.

~Vaevictiis - Innothule

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct in that. The mechanics of vitality have been in the game since Day 1. However, in February they added indicators to actually show you how much vitality you had. So vitality is hardly a "new" feature.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Xaak said...

Yes, vitality was always in the game, however, they completely changed around the system from a super-complex one to the simple one we have now ^_^

6:25 PM  
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3:04 PM  

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