One of the elements that often contributes to the lackluster commercial performance of many MMORPG titles is marketing, or the lack of thereof, especially after release. Activision Blizzard spends millions in putting ads and commercials of World of Warcraft under our eyes basically everywhere, and most other publishers and developers simply don’t have the resources to compete.
While many core gamers have built a good resistance to this kind of allure, the mainstream market is very sensitive to hammering marketing campaigns. This results in the inevitable failure for most MMORPGs to grab the lasting attention of the general public.
Electronic Arts seem determined not to let that happen to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
During the Q3 2012 Fiscal Earnings Conference Call EA announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic currently has 1.7 million active subscribers and sold more copies than expected. This raised EA’s confidence in the product, and persuaded the publisher to increase the marketing spend to push the title to the masses.
Thanks to a transcript of the Q&A Session held during the conference we can get a little more insight on what EA is planning to turn the marketing war in its favor.
The first step is the most obvious: a major mass-market network television campaign. You may have seen some TV commercials of SWTOR, but you’re most probably going to see a lot more from now on.
The second stage of the assault will be a major use of the synergy with Lucas. The 3D re-release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace will hit the theaters on the 10th, and EA is going to play heavily on the cross promotion between the movie and the game.
Finally they’re going to use their cross-platform gaming community Nucleus, Origin and their combined hundreds of million users in order to get the word out even more and “aggregate the eyeballs, minds and wallets of gamers around the globe”.
As a partly unrelated note, we also learn that the publisher is looking into bringing the game to the Asian market and already has work underway to accomplish that, but no specific time frames were given.
One thing is for sure: if there’s one publisher with the cash and the resources required to be able to fight Activision Blizzard’s marketing on even ground, that’s Electronic Arts. Catching the eye of the mainstream and casual userbase may be the real key to the long-term success of the game.
We’ll have to see if they’ll manage to win the battle, or at the very least to tie it. That would be an astonishing result already, while not easy to accomplish in the least.