I like the idea of Quartz, the new business magazine from the Atlantic Group, but I’m not convinced they have a plan in place to reach the people they need to reach. Maybe they do, but I haven’t heard about it yet. Instead, Quartz Editor-in-Chief Kevin Delaney, in an interview with the Nieman Journalism Lab, responds to a question about distribution mostly by citing the quality and accessibility of his content. These are good things to have, but they aren’t the same as a distribution strategy.
Nieman’s Justin Ellis asks, “You aren’t on a print newsstand and you’re not in an app store. How are people going to find Quartz?” Delaney responds by saying Quartz’s content is (a) free, (b) multiplatform, and (c) “made to share.”
That’s not an answer that satisfies me Continue reading
I had the pleasure a few days ago of writing a piece for Wired magazine’s Opinion site on How Facebook Killed the Virtual World (which you can feel free to go and read, if you haven’t already — I’ll wait here). It garnered a predictable raft of reactions from virtual world fans. With a title like that, how could it not? But one comment in particular sparked some additional thoughts. Ramzi Yakob wrote:
To be honest, I don’t see how Facebook bears any relevance to MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. You’re effectively arguing that a CHANNEL has the ability to replace CONTENT… which it can’t. The ability to use Facebook as a channel for games isn’t something I’d dispute – whether or not it has the ability to disrupt multi-billion dollar ventures that produce very high quality content is completely ridiculous.
There are some interesting semantic things going on here. I’m not arguing that a channel can “replace” great content. But I am arguing that channels have a great deal of influence in determining what content we consume. And by extension, I’d say that content on its own merits doesn’t have as much power — and that its power wanes as channels mature. This is the “build it and they will come” fallacy of Internet services: it almost never works that way. You have to put an enormous amount of effort into getting your content, no matter how great it is, in front of the people who may want it. And this is something Facebook facilitates very well — so well, in fact, that it is likely having an impact on our patterns of consuming even expensively produced, high-quality content like top-shelf MMORPGs and the like.
I say “likely” because it’s tough to measure, but there is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence. And there are definitely plenty of (moderately) happy Facebook investors and newly minted Facebook millionaires who stand very firmly behind the idea (as I do) that Facebook can disrupt enormous and established industries that trade in high-quality content. Spotify (for which a Facebook account is necessary) is a great example of this, as are all the marketing campaigns on all the Facebook pages for all the movies, TV shows, games, and consumer products you’re buying every day.
Below the jump is the response I originally made to Ramzi’s comment: Continue reading
I recently got a promotional email from PlayFirst (see above) pushing their “top time management hits” and exhorting me to “check out these fan favorite time management games!” My question: Are there really people out there who are thinking to themselves, “Hm, I wish I had a new time management game to play”? Isn’t that like someone thinking, “Okay, time to buy a new audio-based interpersonal communication device,” instead of “I need a new phone”? Continue reading
Nicholas Lovell’s GamesBrief has an Interesting look at iPad / iPhone sales figure for Great Little War Game, which is actually a very good (but I would not say great) little strategy game. Co-founder Paul Johnson notes that a 5-star review from Touch Arcade, the biggest iOS games site on the Web, produced a nice spike but “didn’t actually exponentiate.” I’m not actually surprised to hear this, not because of the nature of games review sites, but because of the nature of the game. Because GLWG doesn’t actually include a multiplayer mode (other than in-the-room-with-friends “pass and play”), it’s hard to see how a spike in uptake would turn itself into viral adoption. Of course, Angry Birds was in the same boat, but that’s a different beast, aimed at a different (and much broader) audience, and with a different (and again, much more broadly welcoming) price point. So this GamesBrief post ends up being a look at the pop you can get from high-profile reviews and front-page category listings in the app store. These things turn out to be only an intro into the top of the sales cycle; what you do at that point is up to you, and it seems that the nature of the game is what determines the outcome more than anything else. In this case, I’d say GLWG might have a better time pursuing other marketing channels. Given the profile of the audience, a turn-based strategy game is never going to take off like wildfire in the app store. But I’d suggest there are channels where it might capture a more appropriate set of eyeballs, eyeballs that are ready to cough up more cash (so to speak) than most casual / arcade games are asking these days.