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Why BlizzCon '08 could be a lesson to the industry

Discussion in 'WoW Stratics Announcements' started by WoWNews, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. WoWNews

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    Jul 17, 2008
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    World of Warcraft Stratics recently had a news piece on the media exposure surrounding BlizzCon, and it got me thinking: Blizzard could really use this to teach a lesson to the rest of the industry, in "how to market your gaming convention". BlizzCon is "just" a convention for a specific developer, yet it's getting media attention that even general industry events would salivate over. Now, this post isn't intended to address why that is, but rather, what the rest of the industry can take away from this. I've come up with four reasons why, 75% of which do not feature William Shatner.

    1. *BlizzCon '08 will be broadcast on DirecTV (in the US, on Foxtel Main Event in Australia). I can't believe nobody thought of this sooner. Instead of downloading the latest trailers as they hit the news sites during BlizzCon, why not just watch them live, or on DVR? When you combine this with the production experience of Gametrailers TV honcho Geoff Keighley, you give distant viewers a piece of the experience of what it's like to be at a 'con. This not only attracts new attendees in future years (especially from those who weren't willing to shell out the cash to attend until they could get an idea of what they'd be getting out of it) but gives those who cannot attend a way to see what they're missing, and not feel so bad. Now, this leads into the next reason which is:
    2. Star power. No, I'm not talking about the games, I'm talking William Shatner, Verne Troyer, Mr. T, Jay Mohr and Patton Oswalt. More than any other MMO company, Blizzard has really leveraged the public medium here, by not just pitching the game directly to them, but letting the celebrities do it for them. But that's just for the game; it's a whole different level to bring top-grade comedy talent to your annual convention. In doing so, Blizzard recognized that with the influx of new subscribers coming from their celebrity commercials, they've got more gamers they can potentially draw upon to attend the 'con. And as noted above, for those that can't make it (or are skeptical about going), they can watch Patton Oswalt on the DirecTV broadcast.
    3. Exclusive in-game content. Most game conventions give you swag, much of it useless. Oh yay, another sticker. Wow, a squirt gun and a pen. BlizzCon gives attendees a chance to get exclusive in-game items and pets (and gives everyone else the chance to get it later on Ebay). There was some of this going on at PAX 2008 this year, with some vendors giving out beta keys, or redemption codes for some decorative in-game artwork. There wasn't enough. Every game developer that hosts a convention, or attends a larger industry event should do this. It builds consistency, and a fanbase that has a substantive reason to come back year after year to show everyone else that they are the truly dedicated.
    4. Tight focus. Because it's "just BlizzCon"and not a general gaming culture event, there's a high level of user satisfaction. Attendees can go knowing that they're going to see what they want to see and not be bombarded with crap they don't care about. I've attended other gaming conventions that had far too many anime booths, or comic book signers, or importers selling pocky and Japanese culture items. I don't care about that stuff, I'm just there for the games. Things incidental to the game, like merch that's branded from a developer or a comic about the game are cool, but unrelated stuff is not. I don't read comics, and I don't watch anime. I simply don't care about that stuff. There are a lot of gamers like me who feel the same way. Blizzard has the benefit of being able to largely cut out the things that are unrelated to their products, so BlizzCon attendees know they're going to get a high level of relevant content when they go there.
    So there you go. Four things that Blizzard can teach the industry about how to run a convention: broadcasting, star power, exclusive in-game content, and tight focus. Lets hope the rest of the industry actually picks up on them, and as gamers we'll have a pretty good year.