JAM

In the cut-throat world of gam­ing, a clear pat­tern has emerged: losers chase trends, and win­ners chase de­mo­graph­ics...

PCPOWERPLAY - - Contents -

Much

spec­u­la­tion has sur­rounded the cre­ation of screen­PLAY, 7mate’s new pro­gram star­ring Nich Richard­son and Stephanie Bendixsen. Is Aus­tralia ready for a new video game re­view pro­gram so soon af­ter the abrupt can­cel­la­tion of Good Game? Can screen­PLAY at­tract suf­fi­cient rat­ings on a dig­i­tal chan­nel to sur­vive? And why in the world is St. Ge­orge Bank fund­ing it?

It all makes per­fect sense, dear reader. Open­ing your first bank ac­count is a very im­por­tant step on the road to adult­hood, and once you’re locked in with your pri­mary fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider you’re un­likely to change for the rest of your life. As such, the generic, non­de­script, feel­good ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns of the ma­jor banks are a ridicu­lous waste of money. Bank mar­ket­ing should dis­pro­por­tion­ally tar­get the young.

Granted, TV shows cost a lot of money to make. St. Ge­orge will pay a high price for each new cus­tomer en­ticed by the af­fa­ble telep­res­ence of NichBoy and Hex. But if you amor­tise that cost over a cus­tomer’s lifes­pan, it more than pays for it­self. Bor­row short, lend long – banks have al­ways made their money play­ing the long game.

screen­PLAY re­cently ran a pro­mo­tion where you could win a Nin­tendo Switch if you switched to St. Ge­orge. Given the amount of long-term in­come at stake, they could prob­a­bly af­ford to give away a Switch to ev­ery sin­gle new cus­tomer, maybe with a new game ev­ery six months or so to sweeten the deal. But the jolly green dragon’s ac­tu­ar­ies most likely de­ter­mined such ex­pense un­nec­es­sary.

Force of habit is a pow­er­ful force in­deed, and ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions are very wise to ex­ploit this ef­fect to the

look at Wargam­ing - the Be­laru­sian Bear has cor­nered the mar­ket in Dad Games

max­i­mum ex­tent al­lowed by the law. By har­ness­ing habit (i.e. ad­dic­tion) they cre­ate not cus­tomers, but vas­sals. The very best kind of slaves: slaves proud of their chains. NichBoy ac­tu­ally boasts about the $4,000+ he’s spent on Hearth­stone cards, and his whale tale is far from un­usual.

The screen­PLAY ini­tia­tive is the way of the fu­ture. Amaz­ing, then, that so many games pub­lish­ers are for­ever stuck two to three years in the past, chas­ing trends when they should be chas­ing de­mo­graph­ics. You see the same pat­tern, again and again: There’s an un­ex­pected break­through hit, and two to three years later the im­i­ta­tors bring their knock-offs to mar­ket. We saw it with MMOs, MOBAs, and CCGs. And now we’re see­ing it with PUBG. The cre­ators of Fort­nite have launched a medi­ocre 100-player Bat­tle Royale mode, and more copy­cats are sure to fol­low.

One could imag­ine Gear­box and Boss Key des­per­ately rush­ing out their own Bat­tle Royale modes to breathe new life into Bat­tle­born and Law­Break­ers. But it wouldn’t work. As of this writ­ing both those games strug­gle to get 100 si­mul­ta­ne­ous play­ers in the en­tire world – the wait be­tween matches would be in­ter­minable.

Then there’s the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of tone-deaf pro­mo­tional cross-overs. Adding Elvira to Call of Duty does not make the game any cooler. It just makes Ac­tivi­sion look des­per­ate. “Hey kids, re­mem­ber Elvira?” No. They don’t re­mem­ber. And any­one who does is just go­ing to feel old.

Luck­ily, some gam­ing com­pa­nies seem to know what they’re do­ing. For a text­book ex­am­ple of how to win over a de­mo­graphic, just look at Wargam­ing – the Be­laru­sian Bear has thor­oughly cor­nered the mar­ket in Dad Games.

Fa­thers have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and pre­cious lit­tle free time. A dad who thought noth­ing of drop­ping 20 hours on a game in his younger days might strug­gle to find 20 min­utes of leisure time in his busy dad sched­ule. Wargam­ing’s fine dad-friendly prod­ucts cater to the dis­cern­ing tas­terich but time-poor gen­tle­man.

To­tal War: ARENA may seem like a de­par­ture from World of Tanks and World of War­ships, but its tim­ing is im­pec­ca­ble – it’s ar­rived just as the To­tal War fran­chise’s core fan-base is en­ter­ing a new stage of life. It pares away every­thing save for the very core of the To­tal War ex­pe­ri­ence: high­stakes tac­ti­cal skir­mish­ing.

As­sum­ing 2K are on the ball, I’d es­ti­mate that the next dad-friendly cab off the rank will be Sid Meier’s Civ­i­liza­tion. Civ VI raked over the coals when Un­cle Sid’s aging fans would’ve been bet­ter served by a break from tra­di­tion. Some man­ner of on­li­neonly freemium ex­pe­ri­ence; 10-minute ses­sions tak­ing place on a com­pressed world map, some­thing more akin to Candy Crush.

Time waits for no-one. The first of the Big Four banks to of­fer cus­tomers pre­mium cur­rency, loot crates, and/or ex­clu­sive skins for hero shooter wai­fus will gain a com­pet­i­tive edge.

The Cold War may be over, but the Dad War is just get­ting started...

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