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Community is the new marketing

Motiga's new SVP of publishing David Reid explains how the job has changed in the era of games-as-a-service

As a marketing executive, David Reid has been seen the industry from plenty of different perspectives. At Microsoft, he was director of platform marketing as the company worked through its first console generation transition. At Turner, he worked on the fledgling digital rental service GameTap. Then came a succession of stints with MMO outfits, first at NCsoft, then Trion Worlds, and until recently, CCP Games. Now Reid is moving into free-to-play PC games, as Motiga today announced that he has signed on as the studio's new senior vice president of publishing.

Speaking with, Reid reflected on how significantly his field has changed since he started.

"If anything, community is more important than that which classically those of us who have grown up in the industry have been trained to do, in terms of advertising or retail or whatnot," Reid said. "It is a lot more important to be engaging with the consumer. You don't build these businesses out of [spending] millions and millions of dollars in advertising. You build these businesses now with finding a core of people, finding a way your game resonates with them, giving them an opportunity to bring feedback, and developing the game alongside them."

"The relationship with the community is more important, frankly, than the relationship you have with advertising partners, retail partners or things like that."

Motiga is already reasonably well financed, and Reid has faith in the studio's first project, the MOBA Gigantic. So in his eyes, the big issue facing the developer is one of awareness.

"The challenge is something that is ultimately part of what I should be solving for here: Getting the game noticed, getting excitement around it, getting people playing it, and fostering a vibrant community around that," Reid said, adding, "You lead with the product, you have something good there, and then it just becomes this engine of listening to players, getting feedback, giving them something to react to, and bringing them into your community in a more trusted way than maybe developers and publishers used to do 5-10 years ago."

As that engine analogy suggests, a success in the games-as-a-service era needs fuel. Just as developers need to continue adding content and maintaining the game experience for players after launch, so too will Reid's efforts extend beyond the traditional concept of marketing, which he described as advertising and sales leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of launch.

"Now that job of what we would call marketing is only beginning at the launch phase," Reid said. "The relationship with the community is more important, frankly, than the relationship you have with advertising partners, retail partners or things like that. It's an ongoing dialog, and you need to feed that [player] enthusiasm with a proper amount of attention and with a proper amount of reward."

A lot of people in the industry haven't done a great job of transition to the digital world, Reid said. These days, launch is the easy part, and that community engagement aspect is more important--and more time-consuming--than ever before.

"As recently as when I was at Xbox, I could look back at times when I or people on my team were working on 4-5 titles at a time," Reid said. "More and more often now, you have dedicated teams who are working on just one big title because it never really ends. You build these games and design them with the goal of running for years, if not decades. That's a very different way of doing business than it was several years ago."

Gigantic began its public alpha test last week. It is expected to launch in 2015.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.