Some time ago, I wrote a brief observation of nostalgia on how it helps shape both our demand and consumption of entertainment media. Video games are no different. Gen Xers can relate to wanting to tap into their childhood days, from the Atari to the Nintendo to everything since. Back then, the internet and social media were mere concepts and video games was a barely-out-of-diapers medium that saw many hits and misses in its evolution.
Fast forward to 1998 and the focus example of this blog. Square Enix released a role playing game (RPG) called Final Fantasy 7. If you’re a lover of games, you’re probably familiar with it. FF7 was a massive success and to this day is revered as one of the best RPGs, and best games, ever released. Though many persons born outside Gen X discovered the game later in life, persons between ages 30-40 have a greater understanding of the effect this game created over an eighteen year period. As internet became the norm and persons were able to share their experiences, passion and love of FF7 and video gaming on the whole, it became a benchmark for future titles.
We fast forward again to June 2015, a few months after Square Enix angered fans with an announcement of a port of FF7 to the PS4. They made up for it in spades at Sony’s E3 2015 press conference that brought grown individuals to tears. Final Fantasy 7 is currently being remade for modern consoles; significantly we go from blocky characters, to detailed HD. Needless to say, fans went nuts. Media houses’ jaws were on the floor, from Kotaku to BBC. The gaming world stopped in awe, with everyone thinking the same thing: what a time to be alive.
Social media went into overdrive. Many people were live streaming the event, and their reactions were immortalized into various reaction videos. Twitter exploded with disbelief and forums were flooded with comments and memes. Kotaku’s article here provides a general snapshot of the chaos, including the increase in Square Enix’s stock prices right after the reveal.
If you have to takeaway one thing from the last few paragraphs, understand that video games are generational. Persons who experienced the excitement of FF7 and who have followed the growth of games overtime are as lucrative a market as millennials. In our current age of internet and socials, and the rapid growth in acceptance of games as a viable medium and lucrative career path, the gaming industry has taken advantage of these marketing tools that drive buzz and word of mouth more quickly than any television or newspaper ad could.
Social media has become the go to place for many companies to monitor fan reactions, opinions, ideas, frustrations etc. It gives real-time insight into what consumers are thinking and feeling and their influence on their friends and followers. It’s a way for companies to put into perspective their strategic decisions and get early data on consumer acceptance or rejection. Video game teaser trailers, for example, fuel such data, like the recent dislikes on Call of Duty – Advanced Warfare release trailer.
Video games are an accepted medium in our popular culture, from consoles to mobile, as my last blog explored. The rise of an always online mentality has helped spread this culture globally; gaming is no longer that cliched image of a guy sitting in his parent’s basement. It is beloved, cherished and significant across generations. The question that remains is how does a company outside the video game industry tap into this passion profitably?
Stay tuned for the 3rd installment in my Social Media and Gaming Series…