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Rovio: Casual gamers don't read reviews

Teemu Huuhtanen says early coverage is important, but dwarfed by word of mouth

Rovio's vice president of M&A, Teemu Huuhtanen, has said that, although early reviews can help to seed a casual game in the minds of influencers, casual gamers really don't use reviews when choosing what to buy.

Speaking specifically of Angry Birds itself, Huuhtanen said that all exposure was "vital", but that any benefit of getting good reviews from blogs and specialist press was quickly eclipsed by the word of mouth marketing which has seen the brand become such a phenomenal success.

"We try to monitor social media, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even reviews," Huuhtanen told the audience at Gamelab in Barcelona today.

"I think they are all important, especially in the beginning. But I don't think many casual gamers actually read any blogs or reviews - they hear about games from their friends, mostly. But to gain momentum in the beginning, it definitely helps to get good reviews."

The executive's thoughts echo those of Torsten Reil of Natural Motion, who today said that mobile marketing "doesn't work at all".

Huuhtanen was speaking at the event on the subject of brand management and the transition from game to brand, something which Rovio has embodied with Angry Birds plushies, books and a forthcoming animated TV series.

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Latest comments (5)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Well, I think it would help if reviews came out before the game, not after. Perusing the wiki, Angry Birds came out on December 11th 2009. The first review for it (that I can find) is dated the 21st. Most reviews actually hail from early 2010. Angry Birds Space was released March 22nd; there's no reviews dated before that date.

Obviously if you release a game to review on the same day as you release it to buy (or if you enforce an embargo on reviews until day of release) then they're going to have less of an impact than word-of-mouth.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th June 2012 1:14pm

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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
I think I disagree with that Morville, for mobile games at least. I don't think people who buy mobile games sit there looking forward to releases, I think they go buy them straight away. Tell them a game's good a week before launch and by the time the game's released they've probably forgotten about it. I think it makes sense for the reviews to come when the game's available.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Mmmm... I suppose agree partially. A week before-hand, no, that is pointless. But a day before? 2 days? I, equally, don't think most people going to be looking at the Macworld reviews or Metacritic sites on the day-of-release, looking to spend money on a game just because, so it is a balancing game.

(edited for clarity. Need more coffee, I do. :) )

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th June 2012 1:34pm

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Show all comments (5)
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
I think it's just a whole different market than when you consider console/PC games, where the release day and following weeks are absolutely critical to success. Reviews are read by enthusiastic gamers. The majority of Rovio's customers are not "gamers", they don't have any anticipation of games at all, they just live in the moment, and as such there's no need for a massive marketing campaign around launch - the game just needs a critical mass of people talking to other people about it. Mobile's all about allowing people to be spontaneous and buy on impulse - hence the throwaway pricing. They hear about it, they buy it with as little friction as possible. Make them wait, you've lost them already.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Mmm... I forget about the throwaway pricing structure. I suppose you're a lot more forgiving if you only pay 1 for something, realise it's fairly crappy, then read a review the following day that points out all the flaws.
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