Online Gaming: My Unconventional Experiment in Marketing

Online Gaming as an Experiment in Marketing I’ve recently started playing an online game in my *cough* free time. Since I have it on my phone, it happens during those moments I used to spend learning something — reading articles I’d saved, checking email obsessively, and similar pursuits. But, I’m having quite a bit of fun with it and I’m testing out some… are you ready… marketing theories!

I’m a geek and a long-time gamer (way back from the D&D days) but I’ve not had much time or desire to game in several years. I have been looking for a good online multiplayer game, however, and I think I’ve found one in Dragons of Atlantis, Heirs of the Dragon.

I’ve played on and off for about a week now, usually when I’m winding down for bed. As soon as I started, I launched my own “alliance” group. Why? Because I always see how people provide service (even as leaders of something like an online gaming group) and I find the service lacking. I did a little research (yes, you know me well!) and found a couple forums to use as backup for answering questions I didn’t yet know from experience.

Then I launched my own alliance, with the promotional language that it was newbie friendly and fun, focused on active players and was a place to learn and grow as players online together. (Most of the Alliances preferred seasoned players to boost their “power” and they were rude to newbies who asked for help in the general chat, which bothered me.)

Gamer Facts

In the online gaming world, no one trusts a new DM (or a new allliance overlord) as the case may be — so I was starting with a disadvantage.There are those that want to “poach” on new players for whatever reason — and some are genuinely friendly and helpful, but they are harder to find.

My Unconventional Marketing Experiment

Read enough on the forums to know what I was doing. Play a couple hours a night to 1.) have fun and 2.) become a better player and 3.) to become a member of this online community.

Soon, I was watching people do the “Join me!!!” version of simple recruitment (ie marketing). Some were so obnoxious, it crossed the line from annoying to spammy. Others were aloof “Ask me again when you have some power and something to offer, Noob!” I wanted to do something a little different. So I started working on how to approach the recruiting dilemma.

Recruiting – Getting to “Yes” (Marketing 101)

  • By being active on the general chat, I gained name recognition (think Branding)
  • I associated with other players (think Networking)
  • I defined the reason for my alliance (think Mission Statement)
  • I shared my Mission Statement in general chat (think target Advertising)

A couple of days into this, when other, stronger alliances were scooping up all the new talent, I decided to try the “getting to yes” approach. It went like this…

  • Newbie: I need to join an alliance.
  • Overlord 1: Ask me when you have 5000K power or more *geeze, newbies*
  • Overlord 2: Join us!
  • Overlord 3: We will take you!!!
  • Overlord 2: Join us!
  • Overlord 4: The Misdeeds are accepting applications.
  • Overlord 2: Join us!
  • Overlord 5: Beware of Overlord 3
  • Me: Newbie, are you honorable?
  • Overlord 2: Join us!
  • Newbie: I’d like to think I’m honorable
  • Overlord 2 Join USSSS!!!!!!
  • Me: Excellent! Are you an active participant?
  • Newbie: I hope to be!
  • Overlord 2: JOIN US!!!!! 🙂
  • Me: In that case, we would love to have you join us. We are dedicated to helping new players learn and grow alongside our new alliance.
  • Newbie: Thank you, I think I will!
  • Me: Wonderful, we look forward to having you on board 🙂

Marketing Results – SCORE!

And just that quickly, I gained a new member who not only considered themselves honorable (and would then have to live up to that self-assigned trait during gameplay), but I also differentiated my alliance from the others, I asked questions that piqued the new player’s interest and started a dialog (instead of insulting or being obnoxious) and I closed the “sale” by having them answer “yes” twice before offering a gracious invitation.

I followed up immediately by welcoming them to the private forum and introducing them to the other alliance members to ease their transition and to encourage cross talk, instead of lurking. (It worked!)

In less than a week, my alliance has climbed up the rankings with this approach. I don’t have lackadaisical players on my team and I make sure our private alliance chat is helpful and encouraging for all members to participate and grow (think delivering the product promised.) And, the alliance is growing at an incredible clip — both in quality members AND in power (because my players work together, talk among themselves, have a sense of camaraderie, and are actually driven, active players who gain points through play and boost themselves, their fellow members and the group as a whole!)

It’s funny how even something as non-business related as an online game will flourish when the basics of sound marketing and good business practices are applied!

If you want to try the game, you should. It’s a blast so far — and I hear there is a really good, young alliance that helps new gamers and doesn’t insult them 😉