I want to have this message really clear before you read the following – neither of these strategies are “better” than the other. Both have their important place in gaming looking to position one as more beneficial for developers or consumers would be a fallacy.
This, like many, is a concept from traditional marketing theory. At the root of the idea is that fact that you will have 2 types of customer relationships.
1. Transactional – Majority of firm -> consumer communication occurs at the point of sale and the relationship is generally short. Favors marketing style which targets many users but has a lower LTV and ARPU. Examples include most single player games like GoneHome, Stanley Parable or The Swapper.
2. Relationship – Long lasting relationship where customer has majority of communication with firm after point of sale. Franchises following this nature generally have longer customer lifetime and commonly makes use of the APPRU style of monetization.
Some notes** The significance of mentioning when consumers will communicate with the firm is of importance because it defines the media and community strategy. When you purchase a single player indie game, you will engage with the marketing material to some level of depth to decide if the game is something you are interested in buying. You saturate yourself in owned media by the firm or testimonials of other users to decide if the purchase is a good one. Once you’ve purchased the indie or single player game, you likely won’t continue to engage with news, updates, the community and media.
When you become involved with an MMO like GuildWars 2 or WoW, you will likely spend considerably more time engaging with the community, news and franchise (outside of direct gameplay) in greater proportion to your purchase decision process.
You can obviously see the difference in how developers must build different media and community infrastructure for the two. In case it isn’t obvious I’ll mention it.
When purchasing a game in the transactional market you are likely going to want to investigate a few specific informational pieces.
1. What do the market mavens (informed industry leaders) think about the game?
Check out how GoneHome created a home page that was completed built around showing reviews and rewards they have received. I’m not saying this is the only thing you need to do, but it contributes to a robust marketing plan to show your achievements.
If you did this for an MMO people would get sick of hearing self praise. An relationship based site should be centered around creating comfort and ease of navigation instead of a strong & overwhelming first impression.
2. How are you looking to create/develop community?
A really short way of saying this would be – transactional media should be web 1.0 (dissemination of information) and relationship media should be web 2.0 (user generated).
If you jump over to GuildWars 2 website, you’ll see excellent implementation of engaging users with their forums, community thread and a list of news and events to take part in.
So ask yourself, “is the game I’m making/running a transactional or relationship game?” and how are you going to cultivate the design and development differently?
If you have more questions about this concept, as always, reach out to us.