Gamer 2.0, Exploring the use of Gaming, Community, & Social Media

25 08 2009

The video game industry has always been at the fore-front of using innovative technologies to create unique, fun, and addicting experiences for their ever-evolving tech-savvy consumer marketplace.  That being said, its no surprise the gaming industry has been utilizing social media as an effective means to reach their audience and expand gaming experiences into the online social realm for years.  I remember my first real social gaming experience with Starcraft (another Blizzard MMOG), around the same time that Napster ruled the world and DSL internet connection became wide-spread.   Fast forward to today, and we are see new start-ups like Zynga, Playfish, and Playdom create a multi-million dollar industry from social games via social networks, a burgeoning virtual goods economy, and new gaming experiences that blow my once coveted Sega Genesis out of the water. 

Recently, I worked with Partner and head of Interactive Strategy at Crimson Consulting, Karen O’Brien, to conduct research on gaming industry trends and the use of community and social media.  After completing an extensive competitive analysis across multiple game sites and gaming social networks we narrowed down important industry trends as well as some best practices for utilizing the social web to reach the new Gamer 2.0.  

Where do you see the industry heading?  Will mobile soon outgrow console or even desktop gaming platforms?  Will console gaming be overshadowed by social network gaming? Or, will social games on the console be the first step toward integrating social media and television?


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Radiohead Sets Another Example by Saying Good Riddance to the Album

19 08 2009

Picture 5Radiohead is no stranger to developing innovative digital strategies to sell and promote there music.  Recently, in an interview with The Believer, Thom Yorke revealed that Radiohead will not be focusing its creative efforts on a new album in the near future, but rather pursue creating and releasing singles or an occasional EP. At first I  have to say I was somewhat shocked.  I consider OK Computer and even Kid A/Amnesiac some of my favorite albums of all time, but taking a step back, I realized that this is just another step in the digital music revolution – and a step in the right direction for that matter.  

Okay, so the traditional album is dead – Get over it.   The “album” died when the physical product of a CD, cassette, etc. lost prominence and importance amongst the average consumer.   This may make the true music fanatic question the artistic integrity of a musician – Singles? I want a body of work.  But what does this really mean?  The album, for all practical matters, is just a figment of our imagination – created by the limited amount of storage space on a CD and an industry standard set by hegemonic major labels.   Most albums contain a few hits and the rest acts as almost a filler.  There are definitely albums that can be considered an entire piece of work, take Dark Side of the Moon for example, but these albums are few and far between.   Today, consumers seek out something from artists that could never be produced at such scale before the advent of the internet – content, and lots of it.   

The move towards singels and EP’s reflects this shift in music consumption away from a physical body of work to creating unique, high quality content across multiple online and physical channels.  In many ways this puts more pressure on the artist to crank out high quality tracks each and every time.   The album no longer masks the shitty filler tracks of the past. Instead,  artists can release a single online and allow people to digest that one track (whether they fall in love with it and can’t get it out of their head, or absolutely hate it) leaving them wanting more or wondering what else they can expect from the artist.  This is what the traditional radio has done for artists in the past, except now the distribution platform is the internet, which has an incredible reach, and is open to anyone to publish whatever they like.  

Releasing content gradually, helps stimulate demand and leaves people coming back for more, which is especially true amongst Gen Y-ers and an incredibly short attention span.   In the past a band would release a CD, then tour for a few years, and fans would be stuck listening to the same album for at least 2 years before the artist had fresh tracks.  Today an artist can distribute music whenever and however they might want.  If music consumption patterns continue to trend in the way that they are, the bands  that will have the most success will be those who consistently and constantly create good content (music & video especially.)   Through exclusive content, they can create a consistent following who will frequently visit their website, social media profiles, and concerts always expecting and receiving something new and fresh –  (hmm sounds almost like a blogging strategy.)  Once that community is created, artists can utilize it as a direct channel to sell merchandise, concert tickets, premium packages etc. (Things people are willing to pay for). So cheers to you Radiohead for taking another step toward a bright future in the music industry.

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