Ten Video Game Marketer's Golden Rules

Written by Marco Tabini

Okay. The game has been delayed for three years and now its technology is out of date. The Full Motion Video sequences make porno movies look like Best Cinematography Academy Award winners. Programmers are secretly bad-mouthing it on the IRCs. The beta-testers are mysteriously calling in sick a lot. The PC game magazines rated your last six games 92%--collectively. And it's your job to sell the latest nightmare about to lurch out of production to a crowd that's happily playing games from LucasArts, id, Sierra, and Electronic Arts. What do you do?

  1. Words-The Bigger, the Better

    Always include expressions like "The Ultimate", "Incredible", "Absolutely Amazing" in your ads. Use hyperbolae, maximize everything. That's what makes it a different advertisement. That's what makes you a different advertiser. That's what makes you the "Ultimate Dishwasher!" when you get fired because your ads don't sell the lousy game.

  2. Fake Your Technologies

    Bring your products to life by describing incredible new technological advances your amazing development team conceived and created - without even knowing about them. Inventions like "a new amazing technology to control your character" (i.e. the arrow keys), "an incredible learning technology which makes your opponents tougher and tougher" (the TIC-TAC-TOE algorithm) and "a brand-new, real-time 3D virtual reality rendering engine" (does the name Pacman mean anything to you?). Besides, you can always invent the Incredible Dishwashing Engine Version 1.01. Just move your hands faster on your next job.

  3. Give Them Unrealistic Names

    Curious acronyms always attract people. Thus, be sure to call your latest sound engine D.E.A.F. (Decent Effects Are a Fantasy), or your most recent 3D technology W-F.L.A.T.S. (We Figured too Late [this should have been] A Three-dee Scene). You can also use fancy names like M.O.R.O.N. (Musical Out-of-Reality sOuNds) and R.E.B.E.L.S. (Really Excruciatingly Bad End-Less Songs). And don't forget the S.O.A.P. for your next job.

  4. Fake Your Screenshots

    Always remember to have your "actual" screenshots specially designed for your ads. Use 10:1 resolution changes, multiply the number of colours in your games by a factor of at least ten. Hire three professional animators to create from scratch the excerpts for the video ad--and pay them at least three times the salary of your chief animator. Use all possible techniques--including manual cut and paste and airbrushing--to absolutely fake your pictures. This will be useful when pretending that you still are a marketing manager and you can't send your mother a picture of you over the sink. Be careful not to get any suds on the photo.

  5. Design Impossible Packages

    Pyramids, cylinders, spheres, hexaflexagons, and all of the n-dimensional shapes that the mad scientist in your package design department can think of will make everybody happy: distributors, who won't know how to stack them; resellers, who won't know how to put them on the shelves without avoiding the "domino effect" (your package falling over another and starting a chain reaction that ultimately causes the game shop to collapse into a black hole); and 3 year-old players, who will certainly appreciate the opportunity of using your package's sharp angles to harm themselves in the most irreversible ways. Or you.

  6. Lie Without Remorse About The Release Date

    Tell magazines that the game will be out for Christmas (without actually saying that it will be Christmas, A.D. 2013). Late products always give the impression of huge workloads and accurate refinement behind them. Lie without remorse. Nobody will blame you. When asked about the cause of the delay, answer evasively with "We have been experiencing slight trouble (half of the cast died and you had to shoot all video again, programmers are on strike because you are ridiculizing their work [see rules 3 and 4], the only things ready to go are the name and the packaging {see Rule #5}, and you can't show the latter), but I am positive about a speed up in the production process." Tell people the release date is imminent right after the production staff showed you a dummy puppet wandering around the screen with the intelligence of a worm. Or of a dishwasher.

  7. Release Demos Of Your Games Ten Months Before It's Done And Then Get Upset With The Production Staff Because It Causes So Many Crashes That The Operating System Is Getting Annoyed With It And When The User Tries To Run It Answers With A "Are You Nuts?" Dialogue Box

    Need I say more?

  8. Be As Cryptic As Possible About Your Game

    The less people know about it, the more they will talk about it. Will it be a new Quake clone? Or will it be a new platform game, Mario Bros. style? As long as they don't know that it is a CGA Doom clone that runs slow on a dual-Pentium PRO 200 (see the article Game Labels We Really Need), you can still hope to sell a couple of copies. One to your mother, so that you can demonstrate that you still are in marketing. The other to your employer. And one for the restaurant's owner, of course.

  9. Advertise In The Right Magazines

    You are the creative department. You decide where to put your ads. No matter if the guys in production complain about their "creation" being advertised in Gardening Today or Wood Carpentry Digest. They can't understand. However, some of them can be fired. But that's another story.

  10. Get Another Job

    I heard lately that restaurants are offering good job opportunities. Guess what job?