Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Marketing in the Trenches: Bioware vs Blizzard

In the battle for hearts and minds, I want to look at the contrast between Bioware and Blizzard.  In a few days time, on August 14th, Blizzard will be striding onto a Los Angeles stage to announce the release date for Warlords of Draenor.  This is a full media production, with movie trailers, swarming fans lining up to get inside the theater, full livestream, beta keys given away to all comers, and swaggering rock stars Mike Morhaime and Chris Metzen on stage under the lights with a pounding house track in the background, soaking up the adulation.

This pre-event is screamed from every Blizzard media stream, and even its game launcher reminds players of its presence.

Meanwhile, at Bioware,
A few days after that, August 19th, Star Wars: The Old Republic will release their major summer expansion, Galactic Strongholds.  This isn't a mere announcement, this is the actual release of a long-anticipated, universally popular feature to current subscribers: player housing. And the SWTOR game launcher looks like this:

Yes, that sound you hear is a field of crickets chirping.

At the SWTOR website, where we should expect to see major fanfare about this significant game update, we find this:

A banner advertising the wrong patch.  The headliner pushes their virtual slot-machine credit sink, an old release that has nothing to do with the new features to go live in just a few days.  After a few banners cycle through we finally hear about the upcoming Galactic Strongholds and are directed to the latest video:

Check out the date on this thing, over a month old.  Hardly the sizzling hot publicity of Blizzard, where the "days away" counter is updated daily.

I know I'm being too hard on Bioware.  I really enjoy their game and want them to do well.  Where Blizzard has been stepping back from providing true player housing, Bioware has taken the bull by the horns and given the players what they asked for.  I've seen their releases, and Dulfy's coverage of the housing beta on the PTS and SWTOR will offer genuine personalization options, ongoing activities to collect trophies and ornaments, and a significant tie-in to crafting professions.  This new feature is well-done and ought to be successful, if Bioware can manage to let anyone know about it.

This is my twelfth entry in the Blaugust challenge to post once a day for the 31 days of August.


  1. You are absolutely right. The disinterest is huge. There is actually a Galactic Stronghold trailer link on their page on the right, but it takes you to the Stronghold page that was put up months ago. It still tells you to subscribe by July 15th to get access to this and that. At least they removed the one for double credit on May, that was still up there (on the same page) all through July.

    1. It's a good point that they've already pushed back this release from earlier in the summer because they felt it was not ready. I'm fine with that decision, and that's probably one of the things that has thrown off their marketing campaign. I envision them in "all hands on deck" mode trying to get this thing out.