Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is the sequel to 2010’s Medal of Honor and was released last week on October 23rd. Both games were developed by Danger Close and published by Electronic Arts. Medal of Honor: Warfighter had a lot of advertising on traditional outlets and on social media. I’ll get to that in a little bit. Between last week’s release and the beginning of this week, for some reason I have only heard (for the most part) negative reviews of the game. I own the game, have played 3/4 of the campaign, and have played a decent amount of multiplayer as well. I don’t understand the general hate for the game but I personally enjoy all aspects of the game. Sure, the game may not be perfect but I strongly believe that the way the Tier 1 operations were presented was done very well. Granted I have yet to complete the rest of the campaign but seeing the game mechanics laid out overall, I still think Warfighter is a worthy sequel to the last Medal of Honor.

Let’s break down the campaign and the multiplayer. First and foremost, the visuals and cinematics presented in the campaign are amazing. This is of course the Frostbite 2 engine hard at work and it does not fail to impress. The visuals complement the storytelling of the various Tier 1 Operations pretty well and sometimes you feel like you are watching a movie. Gameplay is like any other FPS and all controls are responsive. I think the weaving of multiple stories with different characters could be confusing to some, but it keeps you engaged since you have to pay very close attention. Like I said, I haven’t completed all of the single player, but I believe the overall story in the campaign is a heartfelt one and pays tribute to all of our Armed Forces.

The multiplayer is presented just like any other FPS’s but with a few twists. You are able to play six different classes and have the ability to customize all six. Plus, the player is able to fully customize their weapons, unlock more weapons, unlock different attachments, and have the freedom to switch out any weapon you like. The part I like the most is that the customizing of weapons is very realistic and the weapons themselves are very realistic. The game modes are easy to figure out and are fun to play.

As far as advertisements for the game, before Warfighter’s release I saw a lot of posts from Danger Close and EA on Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, the companies were pretty smart to have multiple accounts for different countries so everyone could post feedback on their respective country page. Also on Twitter, the Medal of Honor account was used for giving out free swag and posting where a Medal of Honor street team would be to advertise in a local city. There was a lot of traditional advertising on TV too before and during the game’s release. I still see the live-action Medal of Honor: Warfighter trailer on TV and posts on social media sites are still being updated. The advertisements are not as widespread as Assassin’s Creed III but I feel the message is still out there for gamers. Another awesome way of getting the message out is that Danger Close sent out free t-shirts and games to injured soldiers in hospitals such as Walter Reed. I think this is an awesome way of respecting our troops and thanking them for their service. I still strongly believe that Medal of Honor: Warfighter is well done game and gamers should give it a chance.

-John

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Who or what do consumers trust?

Building or maintaining trust with a customer is absolutely essential. It’s simply the factor that could make or break a sale. If a customer goes into a retail store and does not trust the sales person he or she is working with, chances are that customer will not buy a single item from either that representative or even the whole store. Same goes for online sales and purchasing items through social media channels. If a consumer feels like a company is not being trustworthy in an online transaction for whatever reason, that consumer will take their business elsewhere and most likely leave feedback. Trust goes a very long way and it is even harder to gain someone’s trust back.

I would say most of the time, consumers trust the people that they know personally such as family, friends, co-workers, etc. This is because it is simply easier for a customer to talk to someone that they already know to learn about new products or even to get a quick suggestion about multiple products or services. To take it a step further, consumers generally trust sources that are reliable and credible. So this could be a journal describing a product or an informed and unbiased sales representative. Also, consumers trust companies with high reputations from customer surveys. How does Apple retain customers? Well, one avenue is that they have excellent customer service, great products, and most importantly, customers feel very comfortable when purchasing Apple products with a sales person. Those kinds of interactions always have customers coming back for more because of great experiences.

According to a survey about trust, “The surveyed consumers feel more comfortable sharing data with retailers than with social networks.” This is because in a physical retail location, sharing information improves a shopping experience and the sales people can narrow down specifics on what customers want, need, and desire. On social media sites, consumer data could be more difficult to interpret (rather than a face to face conversation) therefore creating confusion on what the consumer actually needs. Another great point from an article I read is that the public has trouble trusting the current politicians and some business leaders. The percentage of people who trust these categories of people have gone down this year compared to past years. This is due to every politician slandering each other just to attain a vote from someone. This is the wrong way to approach the situation obviously; leaders should be looking out for people’s best interests and do what is right.

Here is an infographic that describes some other sources of trust regarding peer reviews:

http://www.socialmarketingforum.net/2012/08/do-consumers-trust-retailers-more-than-social-networks/

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/31896.asp

http://www.digitalforreallife.com/2012/04/who-do-consumers-trust/

-John

Assassin’s Creed III

You may have seen an advertisement or trailers on TV for the upcoming game Assassin’s Creed III in the past week. Or you may have seen these advertisements multiple times. Either way, Ubisoft is making a huge push on promoting Assassin’s Creed III with only 9 more days until the game’s official release. It could very well be the biggest game of 2012. And Ubisoft is not stopping with just TV commercials. If you are unfamiliar with or have not heard anything about Assassin’s Creed III or the Assassin’s Creed franchise (you may very well be living under a rock), I’ll provide some information to set the scene.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is set in the near future where a small group of people have the ability to “experience” memories from their ancestors in history through a machine called The Animus. You play as Desmond Miles and Desmond’s ancestors who all are fighting for the Assassin Order against the Templars, a deadly group who wants to use The Animus and all of its power for evil to take over the world. In Assassin’s Creed III (set in the 18th century during the Revolutionary War), you play as Connor, another one of Desmond’s ancestors. Connor is a half-British, half-Native American assassin who must make very difficult choices with the militia in one of the most important times in history. As Connor, you will encounter many important people from history such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. History will be in your hands: will the Revolutionary War be told just like the history books or will Connor and the Assassin Order have an important role in contributing to the militia’s efforts? “Everything is permitted, nothing is true.”

Anyway, going back to Ubisoft’s smart advertisements, the Assassin’s Creed III advertisements are not only known very well on TV but on the internet as well. Retailers such as Best Buy and Gamestop advertise the game on their websites and on their social networking accounts frequently. The Assassin’s Creed main website itself is very interactive where you can view the latest news on the game, screenshots, backstory of Connor, pre-order exclusives, and links to the Assassin’s Creed YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Assassin’s network. The Assassin’s Creed fan page on Facebook has over 3 million likes and there are over 500,000 followers on Twitter between the Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed Twitter accounts.

I always see content related to Assassin’s Creed III when I look on my news feed on Facebook and on Twitter as well. Sometimes Ubisoft even has contests where you can win free exclusive items from the game. Sometimes they will ask questions either on Facebook or Twitter regarding Assassin’s Creed III and what the fans think of the game so far. This is a great practice by getting the customers involved, interested, and keeping them engaged until the release day. Ultimately, these kinds of promotions will only help to increase sales for Ubisoft and keep the fan base happy.

-John

How do you measure the benefits of Social Media?

When discussing the topic of social media, the first thought that comes to my mind is that the sky’s the limit for social media in general. There is so much that can be done (it’s possible there are some things out there in which we haven’t seen yet to use social media for) with social networking sites and it’s pretty evident. Many people have taken off with it and have done very well using these sites. But how do people reap the benefits from using social media? While reading a blog on the value of social media, the author explains how to actually measure these benefits effectively in sections. First, data must be refined and analyzed. This means that not all data from businesses or consumers is valuable. Just because “new” data is released about a product or service, social media analysts and marketers must conduct research to reduce repetitive information. This is where a listening platform comes in to show a company where conversations/interactions are taking place and if they are relevant.

Next, having a fan base for a company is always valuable. Having “likes” on Facebook and people following Twitter accounts definitely carries more weight than “non-likes” and people who are not following. It’s a fast way of showing who is engaged with a brand and usually results in having an “additional promotion team.” This is because people are more likely to share links and info they care about to their friends and then that will be shared again, etc. Also, it is most important to have interactions with valuable consumers. This builds loyalty, trust, and sales for a company easily. Traffic and Sales on social networking sites can prove to be quite useful, but be more concerned about quality over quantity. You don’t want your company to make a lot of products that will eventually fail within a year or so just to make money.

Next, make sure the marketers/social media experts that handle advertising on sites use keywords when explaining a product or service. This helps when someone searches for an item through Google and that particular company could get a lot of referrals on just one website for other products they make. Remember, (for the most part) all kinds of criticism from consumers is a good thing. If someone disagrees with a topic strongly, allow the conversation to play out and then type a response back. Finally any company that can capitalize on engaging customers effectively on social media sites and having those fans keep coming back for more will result in profits and positive traffic. When used well, social media can be a company’s best friend and a valuable asset in a business plan.

http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7838-11-ways-to-measure-the-value-of-social-media

-John

How Microsoft and 343 Industries are Using YouTube to Their Advantage

I’m sure most or all of Halo fans out there have heard about the live-action web series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. The dedicated YouTube community must have heard about this series as well, since it is hard to miss or pass up on YouTube itself. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn follows the story of young UNSC cadets from Hastati Squad and ultimately sets the scene for the upcoming release of Halo 4. The live-action web series is distributed by the MachinimaPrime channel on YouTube. I’ve gotta say, this series is one of the most impressive promotions for an upcoming game I have ever seen. Credit must be given right away to 343 Industries and Microsoft for coming up with this ambitious idea and delivering directly to fans. It’s every Halo fan’s (and even gamer’s) dream seeing Halo brought to a “bigger screen” and having the science-fiction epic story being told in a new light.

YouTube is a great way to really getting a message out there to anyone who listens and follows certain topics such as gamers. Many publishers and developers use YouTube already to post video game cinematics or in-game videos to generate excitement within the gaming community to promote games. YouTube is also one of the top sites among social networking outlets and videos can go viral very fast due to constant updating from companies and users. 343 Industries is very smart to use YouTube in this light because it is very easy to share videos and it’s one of the top ways to create a buzz about something new. Advertisements before videos on YouTube do the same thing. A commercial plays to try to get someone interested in a product, service, or promotion and to eventually seek more information afterwards.

Two episodes of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn have been released and fans already from all over the world are raving about the series. Halo fans are particularly interested in seeing how the story unfolds before Halo 4 begins and also what exactly happened to Master Chief aboard the Forward Unto Dawn ship. Releasing episodes on YouTube each week is a great idea to get fans geared for the release of Halo 4 and in doing so, will probably generate record breaking sales for the Halo franchise. New episodes of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn are released every Friday until the release of Halo 4. Below is the link to MachinimaPrime’s YouTube channel where you can watch Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn episodes:

http://www.youtube.com/MachinimaPrime

-John

What do marketers need to know, to choose exactly where to participate in social media?

First and foremost, marketers must know what is going on around them from a business standpoint. Are companies approaching customers more aggressively than ever before? Do social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter help businesses drive traffic to their stores? Are online sales booming? The answer to all of these questions is yes. Marketing experts need to keep up with the current and new trends online or they will fall far behind. To break it down, marketers must first familiarize themselves with their own company’s selling strengths. From that, they must do some research on who they are trying to sell to. Once they have completed those things, marketers can then focus on a few social media outlets where they are comfortable to help business.

All marketers need to know their 4 P’s: product, price, promotion, and place (as discussed in my previous post). They must have decent knowledge of the product(s) they are selling to consumers or it will not make sense at all to both parties. Customers want a knowledgeable associate to help them, not someone who will beat around the bush and say anything to get sales. They also must be familiar with prices and their current promotions when participating in social media. Consumers are always looking for the best deals and they don’t want to be left out. Marketers also need to think about where they can actually sell. The great thing about social media is that it can have effect on both the internet and in physical stores. Marketers can take advantage of Twitter and Facebook especially by posting new products and where customers can purchase these items. It doesn’t hurt if a promo code or coupon is linked to the message either. By doing this, consumers are more inclined to purchase either online or go out to the physical store to do in-store research and get the “hands on” experience to buy.

A large portion of generating business by utilizing social media is understanding who the customer is. Everyone is different, so how does a company pinpoint who likes what? That’s where the target market comes into play. A particular product or service could be made specifically for a target market of teens or even adults aged 40-60 years. Studies are done to figure out a trend of what a certain demographic likes and what they are currently buying. For example young adults (20-24 years old) may like to go to the movies more often than their elders so marketers could reach out to this group with promos, catered towards the kind of movies they like.

After analyzing all of these factors and knowing where their information stands, marketers must make a choice what the best social media resource is for them to use. Some companies may use one site more than another or even use multiple social networking sites equally. If marketers are more comfortable being aggressive with consumers, they could place themselves firmly within the realm of Facebook and Twitter. There is new content all the time on these sites and a great opportunity to capture sales. Or if they want to approach sales more professionally, marketers could try YouTube and LinkedIn to connect to customers on a more business standpoint. This infographic also provides some useful information marketers must know in regards to social media:

http://jeffhurtblog.com/2012/10/05/7-outrageous-social-media-facts-every-marketer-should-know-infographic/

-John

Social Interaction in Gaming

Some people might say that gaming and “social” networking nowadays are very anti-social. In some ways that is true but also false. After all, social media and online video games are supposed to promote social interaction right? But because we are “stuck” behind computer monitors, TV’s, and have a headset over our ears to talk to our online friends, that socializing connection feels very distant and not very sociable at all. Well, social media and gaming can be very interactive. First, people must realize there are times when you should have fun and there are times where you should be doing something else (going outside, hanging out with friends outside of an inside setting, etc).

Social networking in itself can promote various interactions. Some friends might plan an outing or a day to hang out on Twitter. Or a whole group on Facebook could plan a huge flash mob in a certain popular location. A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purpose of entertainment. The second part of these actions are the same: it requires people to come together and socialize. So actually, social media could be a very strong form of “assembling the troops” and interacting with one another.

Gaming is similar. Some people might be casual gamers (people who come online and only play for a short period of time then log out) but socialize with friends pretty regularly. Others might be more passionate about one game or a few games and could be limited on social interaction. These two groups of people are very similar though. All online gamers talk to one another to strategize a round of gameplay or a whole game. This promotes interaction by planning cooperatively to win an end goal. Some gamers might be adventurous enough to meet each other outside of games to get to know one another. All in all, the main idea is that social media and gaming can be very sociable but only if people allow it.

-John

What key questions should marketers ask before they decide whether to participate in social media?

It may be hard to believe, but there are people out there who do not have any social media accounts. Setting up various social media accounts is probably more daunting for marketers than someone just using social networking for fun. Marketers also cannot simply set up accounts for their brand on a whim. Proper SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) must be followed with executives, the CEO, etc. If marketers get the ok, they then must critically think of what to put out there to promote the brand. Would consumers be drawn to their social media sites? Below are five questions that I think are very crucial for marketers to think about before entering the social media network:

1. Will their presence in social media help or hinder their brand?

Simply put, will the marketer contribute to productivity/success by reaching out in social media or will their site flop? A marketer will need to bring credible information and promotions to the plate for their brand to build customer loyalty on the social networking front. All marketers should know the three P’s of marketing: product, price, and promotion. Same idea holds true for creating awareness through social media. A marketer needs to effectively capture description of products, prices, and promotions to their customers. It’s all about making that first step in social media, which will essentially make or break a brand. No pressure.

2. Will they respect feedback from consumers/varying customers and respond professionally?

Another way of saying: do not simply write off negative feedback from someone. There are many educated and constructive people out there. Treat your customers/fan base fair. People are not stupid. A lot of people have great ideas; a brand needs to learn to take in constructive criticism and sift through these ideas to make themselves better than what they were before. With that being said, marketers need to respond to suggestions or questions in a timely manner. They must follow their business code of ethics and respond professionally at all times. A social media site under a company’s name represents the company image.

3. Is it clear who the social media representative is in the company?

Is it easy for someone to identify who to reply to? Did the marketers set up more than one account on the same site? It is easier for someone to “reply” or leave feedback just on one page or profile. Don’t try to confuse your potential customers. Keep it simple.

4. Does your company have a budget to hire social media experts to devise a strategy?

If a band of marketers are experts on social media, does the company have the proper budget to assign tasks? Each marketer should focus what they need to complete to be most efficient. Only social networking experts should be kept on to work on the social media side of the company. Do not complicate this department with another. Social media experts are there for a reason: a small “think tank” could devise the best strategies for a brand.

5. Do your employees know the proper time to promote your brand?

There is a time and place for everything. Some companies have strict street dated products or material. Marketers need to know when to promote something and when not to. An employee cannot talk about a new product, service, or idea that is not released yet. For example if a retail store puts new products on display a day early, that store could risk losing business between the vendor and their store. Do you think Apple wants to give away all of their ideas in one day? Respect release dates.

-John