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June 21, 2006


Another quality IGDA Chicago get-together last night.

Last summer, Lorne Lanning of Oddworld (moment of silence - EDIT: Not for Lorne, but for Oddworld Inhabitants in its previous incarnation) was the featured speaker, and last night, Kudo Tsunoda of EA Chicago stepped to the mic.

While there were definite similarities between the two game-makers - both Lorne and Kudo are charismatic leaders who gave highly informative and entertaining presentations, it was the differences between their two games that struck me.

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath was Psychonauts before Psychonauts. Both are wonderful, refreshingly creative games with original characters and a unique look.... that didn't sell nearly as well as they should have.

Meanwhile, Fight Night Round 3 is an absolute juggernaut. According to Kudo, it was EA's top-selling game, and the 2nd best-selling game in the industry, over the past year.

Both games were well conceived and brilliantly excecuted, yet such different fates befell them, which speaks to the importance of marketing in the games industry.

Although I've changed my career focus from the marketing side to the development side (producing), it doesn't mean that I suddenly hate marketing. Far from it.

As a lifelong gamer, as much as it would kick ass for the game sales to be merit-based - for the best games to sell the most copies - that's a pipe dream. You could have the best game ever created, but if you aren't willing or able to get the right branding message to the right people in the right place at the right time, then you're dead in the water, because the people who would love your game either don't know it exists, or are under the impression that it's a different game entirely.

To be fair, I don't think that most developers really hate marketing. They just would like to see more game marketers who "get" games. There are a few out there, but the industry needs more. For a while there, I was all set to become one, but then I realized that I'd much rather help make games than tell people about 'em.


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