#E3 and the attention economy
At opening day of E3 2015 there are thousands of excited people, lots on show and a palpable hunger from exhibitors to grab and retain attention of as many people as possible. So how are they doing it? There are a lot of different strategies in play.
Experiential and social media marketing are the same in the sense that they focus on building meaningful relationships and interactions with communities of people. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have taken very different approaches to these tactics and the experience they create.
Game publishers seem to have a reliable bag of tricks that they roll out each year. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because they’re very effective.
As a gamer, I love seeing the characters and environments I play with recreated and brought to life. I love the opportunity to meet the people behind the game, get hands on with the hottest games of the next 12 months before they’re released get new collectables. The way each of the major publishers have approached this is very different.
Microsoft’s objective seems to have been to get as many playable screens and consoles as possible within their booth space so that attendees can focus on getting hands on time, playing as many titles as they can and minimising waiting in line.
This approach is good for a lot of reasons, but what I felt it lacked was spectacle.
For an event like this you need something visual that immediately draws you in and gets you excited or allows you to allows you to interact with it in a unique way. EA has this with the Star Wars Battle Front land speeder photo opportunity, 2K Games has this with huge statues of the BattleBorn team, Nintendo had this with the Amiibo showcase and it seems like a missed opportunity. It’s worth noting that the new Ford GT is at the booth, but it’s tucked away at the back.
Playstation has the most mixed set of tactics of the three big guns.
Like Microsoft, Playstation has lots of open space with rows of screens and consoles. But that’s only part of its attention gathering strategy and accounts for only about a quarter of the total booth space. Sony have been very strategic in the partnerships and have definitely got the strongest of the console manufacturers. It created with publishers like Activision with Call of Duty Black Ops 3, Naugty Dog with Uncharted 4 and many more. These strategic partnerships draw fans and attention from the franchises’ loyal followings.
Playstation is also the only one to bundle game experiences together. Where Nintendo and Microsoft have separate lines and experiences for each title, Playstation elected to combine three major titles including Uncharted 4 and The Last Guardian into one experience. This is good because it saves time in line, but is it a risk to expect that people will be interested in all three.
Playstation biggest attention grabber and differentiator is definitely virtual reality. Neither of the other two console manufacturers have any VR presence, and Playstation has a double story booth that’s about 20% of its total presence and is dedicated solely to virtual reality. The Project Morpheus VR experience offers a far more personalised experience than anything else on the show floor too. The booth is divided into cubicles and each individual is briefed seperately – this isn’t hugely practical given the number of people, but is essential given the medium and is also a great way to retain mindshare.
Nintendo is totally different. You would think there’d be a lot of gamified experiences at a gaming expo, but you’d be wrong. After walking the show floor for a day, I was only introduced to one – by Nintendo, and it’s both fantastic and simple.
For the launch of Mario Maker and to celebrate Mario’s 30th anniversary, Nintendo has created a set of pins that act as a reward for playing the games on show. For each game you play, you get a different pin and the objective is to collect the whole set. In a room full of thousands of gamers, this is a huge sell and motivator for people to interact with Nintendo.
The other key differentiator for nintendo is crowd interaction. Sony and Microsoft seem to be more focused on interacting with the online audience, as both have broadcast sections of their booths which are streaming all day. Nintendo has that too, but it also has a special stage where participants are challenged to play new games, complete challenges (like best Mario impression) and win prizes. For the people here at the event, this is a huge win and a big reason to spend more time at the nintendo Booth.
There are lots of other great booths that draw attention and create interaction, but two really deserve special mention: Bethesda’s Fallout 4 Booth which has a robot that interacts with the audience live; and the Street Fighter V booth with has a series of DSLR cameras connected up to create an amazing fight scene .gif which you can share with your friends.