I was tossing the idea of brand loyalty around in my head this morning as I drove into work. I was thinking about how in the 90s and early 2000’s I was extremely brand loyal to many game franchises and companies. I had lots of faith in those brands/companies and would show that through the typical brand loyalty behaviors. When people are brand loyal they typically purchase without thinking too much about convenience or price. Brand loyal consumers are often unaffected by the marketing efforts of other brands, and sometimes they even disregard the fact that a certain product might be better.
Despite how easy it has been to become jaded, I still have elements of brand loyalty hanging in there. For example, I really like Nintendo. I really like their game franchises and I like the company. The Wii U is technologically inferior, and I think Nintendo has–in many ways–screwed up their marketing over the years. However, I still buy Nintendo products and love to be an advocate. I’m a loyal Nintendo fan.
I used to really dislike the Playstation. I was never a big fan. Certainly not to the point of being a loyal consumer. While I still do not consider myself loyal, I will admit that my PS4 is my #1 console these days. I use it for most games, and if possible I will get games on the PS4 over the Xbox One or the Wii U. It simply performs the best. That’s a marked difference between loyalty and preference. I think of it like Nvidia and ATI. I prefer Nvidia because I still see them as more universally supported.
Let’s talk MMOs and companies for a second. Blizzard? I don’t know if I’m brand loyal or not anymore. There was certainly a time when they could do no wrong. Even now I have a lot of respect for the quality of their products. They’ve made and continue to make questionable (read: stupid) decisions that I disagree with, but overall they’ve made and continue to make some of the best games of all time. On the other hand, SOE or Daybreak Games has completely crushed any loyalty I had. I do not trust a single thing they say or make to be worth playing. Yet, and here’s where I struggle, I feel this immense loyalty to the EverQuest brand. I’m drawn to it and feel like no matter what I have to be loyal. It’s pure psychology at this point.
In 2015 I feel like becoming brand loyal is much more difficult in the gaming industry–especially MMOs. The products are really volatile. It’s not like we’re talking about iPhones or body wash–things people can seemingly rely on day to day. Games have this way of being really great or really bad, and more often than not even the great companies release something that blows up in the faces of their players. It’s way too easy these days for gaming companies to let their fans down, and I haven’t seen much in the way of trying to cultivate customer loyalty or build community and following around games anymore. Instead, it’s all about herding sheep with hyping streamers. It’s all flash-in-the-pan tactics. Loyalty? It’s being tossed out the window for snap judgments and cash grabs. If it fails? Try again next year!
What about you? Are you fiercely loyal to any gaming brands, companies franchises?