You Can Start By Being The Best (Or Trying)

Sorry guys, we had a great last week with all of the E3 news to comment on and then I went dark. I once again blame my rising side business and desire to spend some free time actually playing games.

I have a bit of a cross-dimensional post for you today. As you guys know, I work in marketing. I work with a decent number of clients (~150 give or take depending on the season). I’m responsible for the marketing strategies for most of them, as well as my company. We do a lot of work on the internet with advertising, building websites, growing brands, getting leads and reaching new audiences, yada yada. I started to noticed a trend these past few weeks.

Client: “How do I rank for ‘best doctor in Los Angeles’?”

Me: “You can start by being the best doctor in Los Angeles.”

Client: “Isn’t there something else we can do instead?”

Here’s another one from today.

Client: “How come so and so is higher than me in search engines?”

Me: “So and So has built a brand. People talk about him more on the internet. There are news reports, blog posts, tweets, facebook likes, newsletters, comments, and conversations going on about So and So. Google and ‘the internet’ are able to parse So and So more naturally and understand that So and So sells better widgets. If you want to be first in people’s minds (and in search engines) as a widget seller, then you need to be the first widget seller that comes to mind when people think about your industry.”

Client: “That sounds expensive.”

Yeah, so internet marketing sucks when you work for an agency that will take anyone on as a client. Other than that important lesson (Really, pay attention kids: Avoid agencies. Work for a company. Avoid internet marketing.), I tied this back to games while on my commute home. Screw you 91 freeway and caltrans.

This is one of those painfully obvious posts, but in my mind it comes together all eloquently and epiphany-ish.

Presentation matters. Building a brand matters. Building a community matters. Having a quality product matters. Blizzard releases a me-too product and obliterates even the thought of failure in people’s minds. No one is even thinking, “is Overwatch good?” or caring that it’s a straight up copy of so many other games. Why? They are gods at what they do. They build a masterful product (even when it’s copycat), brilliantly position that game in the market space, and print their own money on the roads they pave for themselves. I needn’t go on.

Why do some Kickstarters for games fail? The game could be phenomenal. The idea could be even better than Warcraft. Did you present it the wrong way? Did you make people care? Or better yet, SHOULD they even care? That’s one people skip far too often.

Fooling people doesn’t end well either. You can pretend to be something you’re not, slap on a beautiful facade, wow us with your graphics, and even have a team of marketing savants drum up all sorts of demand. 2-3 months later everyone quits playing, bad mouths your company, and you play catch up for the next 6 years making F2P games or doing licensing deals until people are willing to forgive you at our sheer boredom.

We’ve seen a transition away from companies making great games to companies making games they think a large group of people want. To me that’s as absurd as my client wanting to be perceived as the best before actually/even trying to be the best — or worse, knowing he will never even try but wanting to fool people into thinking he is anyway. It’s backwards, and it will fail.

In hindsight I think this made a whole lot more sense in my head, but hey this is where I dump my thoughts.

WoW’s Legion Expansion Will Be a Long One

Blizzard lost all trust with their players back when they said they wanted to release expansions every year, then said they wanted to do more content (then didn’t and went a year with no new content), then said they wanted to do expansions faster again. Well now it seems they’ve yet again flip flopped, but they’re at least admitting anything they say will sound hollow.

At this point, I don’t think that yearly expansions would be the best thing for our players – Ion Hazzikostas, WoW Asst. Game Director

Ion also went on to say that they plan on focusing on more patch content and building on current stories to keep players entertained. In other words, we’re going to have Legion for a long, long time. Hopefully they can keep the content flowing in order to keep players interested.

How do you guys feel about longer expansions vs. more expansions in general (not just WoW)? I think I like the idea of more patches and rich content in a longer expansion cycles as long as the expansions are truly major “expansions” to the game itself and how it’s played over just adding more content. Expansions should never be patches. That’s something Blizzard has nailed pretty well. Every expansion feels like the game is being overhauled or taken to the ‘next level’.

As long as I — the player — never feel bored without something to do, I’m fine waiting a reasonably longer amount of time for a big overhaul. I prefer that over feeling like I don’t have time to do everything I want, or feeling like everything I’m doing is just going to be wiped out from mudflation or a change of direction. For example, if I played WoD when it launched and was really beefing up my Garrison just to find out that in a few months that expansions would be meaningless, I probably wouldn’t care about my Garrison.

P.S. Content =\= Achievements or Pets

The New Curse Is Impressive

I just recently discovered that Curse went through a major overhaul, and I thought it was cool enough to share. Curse is now more about providing community tools and acting as a platform for content creators, communities, and guilds to interact. Curse is positioning themselves as the facilitator.

Keen and Graev on Curse

As a content creator and curator of a small gaming community, I like that these tools are open to me for free. I use Twitch and Youtube to publish video content, and Curse is now positioned to augment those sites. That’s a much better route than some sites are taking where they try and compete. Instead of going against the grain, Curse is working on chat bots for streamers, facilitating giveaways for streams, helping creators grow their audience, and integrating with these sites through their APIs. Smart idea to tag along rather than stand toe to toe with these juggernauts.

Curse also hooks into lots of games and tries to connect you socially to others. Last night I played some Overwatch and I noticed that all of my friends on Battle.net with Curse accounts could be invited to be my friends in Curse. I thought that was neat.

The only area that I see for improvement right now would be in their execution of the mods side of their site. The new curse app is great and works just like their site, but if I want to use WoW mods I have to have the different mods app. I want both features in one app.

I haven’t decided yet to what extent I’ll use the new Curse. I set up a “server” where you can chat and interact, know when I’m streaming, etc. I may not use a lot of the community stuff, but the tools are pretty neat for streaming and interaction with community.

Hiring Artist for Twitch, Youtube & Blog Gaming Art

This is mostly the style I'm looking for. Can or doesn't have to be the minecraft style, but this has the qualities. Source: Finsgraphics (who doesn't take commissions?)

This is mostly the style I’m looking for. Can or doesn’t have to be the minecraft style, but this has the qualities. Source: Finsgraphics (who doesn’t take commissions?)

I’m looking to commission some work from an artist or freelance designer who wants to create channel art for our Youtube, Twitch.tv, and even the Blog here. I thought finding someone to create art would be easy, but apparently it’s crazy hard to find artists out there.  Few seem to actually have websites or know how to optimize their work to be found online. The ones I do find are so inundated that they’re all saying, “Sorry no commissions.” Huh.

So any of you out there with talent whose websites I can’t find, I’m willing to pay for this work to be done. Here’s what I want:

  • Heavily (as in 100%) related to video games (mixing in lots of games together would be awesome since we’re a variety show here) so the artist needs to have a familiarity with games and be able to infer what I mean when I try to explain what I want. Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft, Uncharted, even nerdy stuff like Star Wars.
  • Twitch.tv, Youtube, and Website art (avatars and custom logo included)
  • Styles I like include stuff like Finsgraphics (specially this one). Doesn’t HAVE to be Minecraft style, but I want all of the qualities of that type of work. I want cartoony, bright, youthful, colorful, polished and glossy. Not too cutesy or anime, but some cute is okay. Almost chibi but not really?
  • Would love our avatars (Keen and Graev) to be dressed up as these characters.

More Art references (I’ll keep updating these as I find them)

I’ve checked Fiverr and Etsy and /r/forhire and still can’t find anyone. If you know someone, forward this to them. If you are that someone, shoot me an email with some of your work or leave a comment here to your portfolio. I’m totally cool with you sharing links to your stuff for others to see.

If I’m using the wrong search terms or if you know where or how I can find the stuff I want, please let me know.

Maybe Nintendo Did Okay?

I was a little quick to judge Nintendo’s E3 portfolio, but their approach to E3 with the Nintendo Treehouse wasn’t the best approach either. As the day(s) went on, Nintendo showed several other games beyond just Zelda and Pokemon that really have me excited. There’s one in particular that I’ll kick things off with…

Ever Oasis

Ever Oasis is an action-adventure RPG for Nintendo 3DS family systems contains puzzle-filled dungeons, real-time battles, exploration and treasure hunting. Players use the oasis as their base, which they can expand as they play, and gain affinity with characters called Seedlings, who are themed after plant seeds, as well as a variety of other unique characters who live in the desert. Players can freely form strategic parties with any of their allied characters, using allies’ weapons to battle enemies and solve dungeon puzzles. Ever Oasis is scheduled to launch in 2017.

It’s like Zelda meets Animal Crossing meets Monster Hunter meets Pokemon Mystery dungeon; Some are even thinking Runefactory is in there somewhere. The video above really showcases a lot of that. This is exactly the type of game that I enjoy playing on a 3DS. I’m super excited, and would love to hear about the possibility of co-op.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

This Nintendo 3DS remake of the classic turn-based game involves a young boy who sets off with his friends on a journey to restore the world to its former glory and save the present by mending lands that were sealed in the past. In addition to updated graphics and an entirely new localization, the game does away with random enemy encounters to bring the player deeper into the game world. Players can also collect and share Traveller’s Tablets via the StreetPass feature, granting access to special dungeons offering unique rewards.

I’ll freely admit here that i haven’t played a single Dragon Quest game. That’s like a gaming sin, I know. So I don’t know if this is a remake of a game that ever released in the US on another console, or just a remake of the Japanese version. I think it looks fun, though. Again, the perfect kind of game on the 3DS. Am I going to be able to jump right in and enjoy the series having never played previous installments in the series?

Monster Hunter Generations

I haven’t decided yet whether or not I will pick up Generations. I played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and enjoyed it online with Graev, but I think the series is incredibly templated. They all play so much the same that the next one simply feels like the previous one. They’re great — really great — but is that enough to jump in and play another? Once again, a perfect game for the 3DS. Handheld really is where Nintendo shines.

Additional honorable mentions:

  • Mario Party Star Rush – Still no online multiplayer, but a new mode that removes turns and enables free movement. Biggest shock: It’s a 3DS title.
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash – Looks good. I like to watch these be played but haven’t actually played one myself. Graev loves them.

Ever Oasis all by itself is enough for me to boost Nintendo’s E3 score. That looks ridiculously fun.  Bringing updates to a few staples, and showcasing more of their titles already announced doesn’t hurt either.