Tag Archives: Video game

Getting Twitchy

You might have read recently about the deal between Comcast and Netflix.

English: The Xbox console with the S controlle...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s screed is not about that, but since part of the reason the deal came about is Netflix’s use of streaming bandwidth, it raised a question in my mind.  If Netflix is number 1 in terms of using internet bandwidth and is not making deals with ISP’s directly to serve as their CDN‘s (content delivery network), what other companies are in a similar situation?  Who are the top five contributors to internet traffic?  The answer surprised me and reminded me once again of an important business point.

You probably got the next couple on the list correct:  Google (which is YouTube), and Apple are numbers 2 and 3.  Who’s next?  Hulu?  Amazon?  Facebook?  Good guesses since they are all major video sites and do come after number 4.  Give up?

The answer is Twitch.  No, that wasn’t a command.  Twitch is a site that broadcasts people playing video games.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of sitting around a living room while someone plays a video game.   This is just a bigger room.  A MUCH bigger room.  So big that Twitch recently hit one million users broadcasting each month during prime time hours with 45 million monthly unique viewers who watched, on average, 106 minutes of video a day.  That means each month, viewers watch 13 billion minutes of video.  With the Twitch app coming to the Xbox (it’s only been on the Playstation 4) one can expect that the number of “broadcasters” will grow and the number of people watching will as well.

There are more people watching programming on Twitch than are watching most cable networks.  I’m willing to bet that the audience for this is bigger than many broadcast programs as well.  How many programmers are sitting around thinking about how to take away the viewing not just from people playing video games but also from people WATCHING people play video games?  That’s the business point.  We can’t continue to think about our businesses in “traditional” terms.  Our SWOT analysis need to be much broader and contain a lot of “out of the box” thinking.  The threats are everywhere.

They call it “blindsided” for a reason!

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Mess Effect

I don’t know if you’re a gamer (in the video game sense, not the hockey sense) but even if you’re not you might be aware that the latest installment in the Mass Effect video game series is out. It’s going to be one of the biggest releases of the year and the buzz has been good.  More importantly to Electronic Arts and Bioware (the developer), pre-sales were big.  It’s the third game in a series that has many passionate users who’ve been immersed in it for five years.

So why would I call this post “mess effect?”  Because despite all the success to date, EA and Bioware have created a release that’s precipitating a mess that has already alienated a substantial potion of their most loyal customers.  It serves as a reminder to us all.

In Mass Effect 1, gamers were given the option to create their own customized version of the main character, Commander Shepard.  Obviously, if a gamer made Shepard in their own image, they felt a bit closer to character.  At the end of the game, they could bring the character forward into Mass Effect 2, continuing the close attachment.  One might expect the folks who took the time to modify the character as well as to carry it forward to be hard-core.  Another name for that is “best customers” or “brand advocates.”

So here is ME3 (as it’s known) and although it’s a few months late, it’s met with great anticipation by those folks who’ve seen Shepard through many tough times, have helped save the Earth and have done so with an avatar that’s near and dear to them.  Except ME3 won’t import the previously created Shepard.  That’s right: for folks who are just entering the series now, it’s not an issue but for the folks who have been most loyal and brought their character with them, perhaps for five years, they have to start over.  Apparently, it’s almost impossible to replicate your existing Shepard on the new system, even from scratch.

Bioware says they’re working on a fix but will this take days?  Weeks?  Months?  Meanwhile, the gamer message boards are filling up with complaints about a peripheral issue and not with praise for the meat of the game play.  It’s a mess.  I know it probably won’t impact the overall success of the game, especially once it’s patched, but why would a company not take into consideration their best customers first?  Some of the folks who played ME1 and 2 used the defaults; others made tiny mods that are easy to replicate.  But the people who spent hours tweaking Shepard, the customers most immersed in your product, are screwed, at least for now.

As we’re implementing new versions of existing products – web sites, apps, new recipes, whatever – we need to start with those who’ve blessed us with their patronage before we worry a lot about attracting new customers.  After all, if the hard-core is happy, they’ll help spread the word.  If they’re not, no amount of marketing can totally overcome it.


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Thinking Differently

Apple used the slogan in its advertising “think different” years ago.  Over time, I think we all can appreciate how that mantra, perhaps grammatically incorrect or perhaps not,  has come to be reality in the types of products produced by Apple.  I’ve always admired that much of what Apple produces isn’t original per se – there were mp3 players before the iPod, for example – but Apple manages to take a product sector as it evolves, marry it to better technology, and change everything.

What has me babbling like an Apple fanboy this morning?  A piece of research on TV‘s of course, and a thought about how some research points to the need to think out of the box. Continue reading

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