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The audience is the key challenge for the game industry, not technology

Game customers are “drinking from the firehose”; how do you stand out from the noise?

The gaming industry has undergone massive changes in the last decade, but one of the key ones is the enormous increase in the number of games being produced. This is as important a platform shift as any disruptive technology - perhaps more so. "It used to be that gamers were starved for content and fascinating new releases," said Scott Steinberg, CEO at TechSavvy Global and noted marketing guru. "Back in the early '90s I'd be happy to get a high-profile new release every three or four months. Anything even remotely interesting had a chance of succeeding. Now, we're at the other end of the spectrum - we're drinking from the firehose. There are too many Kickstarter projects, too many interesting, quirky or fascinating games out there, too many apps, too many interactive entertainment experiences. Even if you're a gamer, there's only so many hours in the day."

"Fire your marketing team. Everybody in the company should be in the 'marketing department'"

Scott Steinberg

The biggest challenge now is not technology, it's acquiring and maintaining an audience for your game. Steinberg says that games have become 'content' in the eyes of quite a few people, and what that's telling you is they've become a commodity. "The games that succeed are AAA blockbusters or quirky independent releases. Why is that?" Steinberg asks. "The answer is probably that they had something unique to offer, or they stand out at a glance, or they have a tremendous following, or any or all of the above."

"We're talking about multiple challenges here, game design simply being one of them," Steinberg notes. "The business, the branding, the marketing piece is every bit as important a part of the equation. Everybody argues content is king, gameplay is king, but you have to have a sound business strategy and a great high-quality game experience. At the end of the day, if you can't stand out from the noise you just fade into the echoes."

“I've argued for a long time - fire your marketing team,” said Steinberg. “Everybody in the company should be in the 'marketing department.' Designers need to think like marketers, marketers need to think like designers, and really think about from day one what they're going to do to drive that awareness, and have something to offer the customer and something unique to say. Think about your customer, think about their needs, and how you're going to offer them something considerably different.”

Read more of this interview and analysis at our sister site, the [a] list daily.

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Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.