Steam’s fastest-selling new release this month isn’t EA’s much-hyped Dead Space 2 (whose “Your Mom Will Hate It” ad campaign is a little puzzling for a game targeted at players aged 17+), but an indie title, Magicka, developed by Swedish firm Arrowhead Games. The startling success of Magicka is a continuing part of the rise of indie game developers who, while not having multimillion-dollar project budgets, nonetheless manage to create compelling and innovative games, avoiding the pitfalls of genre and industry tropes that often bedevil big-name triple-A titles from major publishers like EA and Activision.
What can marketers take away from the success of these indie titles? Why do gamers advocate so much more strongly for a game like Magick” than they do for more mainstream material? What drives this behavior, at least in part, is a feeling of ownership. Players who try out Magicka and sell it to their friends feel as if they partially own the success of the title; they’re part of the magic (no pun intended) that Magicka brings to its fans.
Another indie developer that’s giving its fans a stake in a game’s success is Zero Point Software, developing a title called Interstellar Marines. Zero Point has asked gamers to get involved in the development process, using their forums and Facebook page to encourage players to try out early alpha builds of the title, promote the game through their social media channels, ask the developers questions about the title, and even provide feedback about the title and pre-purchase to support the title’s continuing development.
By involving fans in its development process, Zero Point has effectively given its consumers a stake in the finished product — a sense of ownership of the brand, in other words. And once your consumer owns the brand, he’s already bought the product.
This column originally appeared as part of MediaPost’s Gaming Insider.