Let’s say you have a new product coming to market. You budget about 10% of your overall budget to PR. That’s a fair chunk of change on a $100 million project. Now let’s say you realize later on a few things. You have something that exceeded your expectations and you think there’s solid interest. You also realize that your PR budget allocation wasn’t well allocated, in that what you spent didn’t really get you much or that you spent the money elsewhere.
Today’s internet is exponentially more interconnected and fast than 5 years ago. I get a dozen tweets a day, multiple facebook posts, tons of feedly, a sub-Reddit and then the old school emails. I can watch a stream on twitch or a series on youtube, with voice commentary. What a team of 10 can do for a company pales in comparison to what 1 person with social skills and a solid social network can do (e.g. the Lazy Gamer comes to mind).
You know what NDA’s do? They protect assets from espionage (no really, that’s what they are for). The end result is that any word of mouth becomes basement driven and usually negative. People are much more willing to be skeptical than trusting, certainly without evidence. One post that says “stay far away” without content to back it up will do more damage than a PR video showing combat.
NDA’s today serve a single purpose in the minds of gamers. They hide bad games from the masses until launch. Aliens – Colonial Marines is a prime example. Movies that do not have critic screenings are the same (R.I.P.D. is a recent example). You either are confident in your product when you allow people to test it or you are not.
That brings me to the elephant in the room. EQ Landmark dropped their NDA yesterday upon launch of alpha. Alpha is before beta and always lacking polish. But given that it cost $60 to get into alpha, they know everyone wants to have a good experience, so they are likely to talk about it in a positive light, even if there are bugs. This is a really smart move because you now have a few thousand people talking about your game and generating hype. WildStar is driving me mad with their player streams because it looks just like the game I’ve wanted to play for years.
If TESO doesn’t open the doors this coming week, or Bethesda doesn’t start with a massive PR blitz, I have a strong feeling that they are going to get swept under the rug. My Feedly on that game is near dry right now, and you know it’s going to fill up with EQ:L soon.