on 06.08.2013Buzzword Bingo - A Critique of the Gaming Industry's Marketing
As I'm certain you all know, the gaming industry is nearing a state of crisis; with AAA game budgets rising to unrealistic levels, heavy reliance on focus groups, and publishers ignoring the core gaming market just to name a few of the problems. One problem in particular that has reared its ugly head as of late—but one that hasn't received a lot of attention—is the use of buzzwords in gaming conferences to generate hype.
To the few of you who perhaps are unenlightened, buzzwords are flashy-sounding terms that speakers put emphasis on that subconsciously ingrain themselves into the minds of those listening. They may not mean much of anything, but speakers could care less—their sole purpose is to cause an audience to gasp and applaud at the mere mention of these words.
While in normal speeches these buzzwords may be used sparingly as a clincher or a method to rile a crowd during a pivotal moment, the gaming industry abuses them to a despicable extent, hammering and beating them into the ground as if each time they are spoken another console will be sold. Though this isn't true, it makes for some ludicrously repetitive presentations and laughably predictable reveals.
Though Sony's PS4 conference is also guilty of this, I'm going to focus on Microsoft's console reveal because—let's face it—that conference was not for gamers. Therefore, I feel more obligated to tear it limb from limb.
Harsh, perhaps, but so was getting left at the altar known as the Xbox One reveal.
Microsoft's press conference for it's next generation console was a bit of a mess, being a conference for the masses attended only by the few. The few, of course, referring to the millions of gamers waiting for a glimpse at the next generation of gaming. However, they were met only by a conference dedicated to showing the "all-in-one" features that Microsoft designed for the masses—or, rather, the millions of families across the globe that they are attempting to reach. In the end, gamers were disappointed, and the buzz from gamers that Microsoft expected to relay the news to larger audiences never came. A lose-lose situation for everyone.
But, you knew that already. What you perhaps didn't notice at the time was just how much Microsoft truly shoved into your mind about the console during the reveal without showing more than a few minutes of gameplay.
Microsoft's use of buzzwords during the gaming conference rose to levels of pure ridiculousness. Words like "innovative", "engaging", "emotional", "cinematic", and "integrated" showed up time and time again, while people continuously referred to the Xbox One as "future-proof", the "new generation" of gaming, "redefining" of the entire industry, as well as many more. The corporation didn't reach many people without leaving a sour taste in their mouths, but those who did come away with a positive feel for the console came away able to relay these buzzwords to anyone they may speak to about the reveal.
Doubting the occurrence of these marketing ploys? Truly think to yourself: what words come to your mind when thinking of the console? It may be "really stupid reveal", but you are now outside of the market Microsoft is trying to reach—you are now the assumed market. The market Microsoft is trying to sell to would say more along the lines of "simple" and "instant", as is the buzzword-filled slogan of the new hardware.
These buzzwords don't necessarily work unless the buyer is idiotic and can easily be manipulated into thinking whatever a corporation wants them to think. Microsoft, like most corporations, is too far rooted in their own arrogant beliefs to realize that consumers are smarter than this. This belief is what makes these buzzwords so humorous, and so much a problem. They stand as a belief by all of the gaming industry—not just Microsoft—that consumers can be told what to buy by being seduced through a series of flashy terms. It shows fear in the industry that a product cannot speak for itself by showing strength and quality, and must be told what is "innovative" and "redefining" of the genre. It's a disgusting assumption by the gaming industry, and one that deserves as much attention as all other problems plaguing gaming corporations today.
Now, onto what makes to title relevant. Though buzzwords are a problem, they do provide humor in just how predictable they are. As certain as death and taxes, buzzwords WILL be present in any and all public appearances. In events as simple as a Killzone demo on the morning news where the presenter states how the graphics are "super-charged" to as extravagant as the new console reveal detailed above, buzzwords are looming, waiting to snatch up any consumer ignorant enough to be pulled in by the shiny language. This predictability allows for a game that many have performed, and one that I would like to share with you: Buzzword Bingo.
The concept is simple. Before the upcoming E3 conferences (specifically Microsoft's for this template), place the words in the boxes and wait for speakers to confidently state the "advancement" of the industry through their product, then mark your card. There is no prize for winning, but I would like to suggest an experiment: see how long it takes to get Bingo. See how long it takes to fill the entire card. Watch and see just how pathetically predictable the gaming industry has become that gamers know these ploys well enough to smack them down before the gate opens.
It may surprise you how quickly you can win this game—my bets are that it takes no longer than fifteen minutes from the time the first word is said for someone to get Bingo.
Although this game may yield some hilarious circumstances, I would like to point out again that the point of Buzzword Bingo isn't to be a funny parody of any press conference. Rather, it should strictly be seen as a huge problem in the industry. The fact that words can be pulled from previous conferences and predicted for future ones is a travesty. Buzzword Bingo shouldn't HAVE to exist, but because the industry feels so insecure in its product that it feels the need to rely on flashy words to draw in consumers, I feel as though this game of Bingo MUST exist. It won't do much, but if it raises awareness on a little-seen issue, then that's all I could ever ask for.
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