The short clip shown during the lecture on Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 release in South Korea had me thinking about the importance of a brand to the videogame community. The staggering amount of fans attending the event remains a norm for similar Blizzard events worldwide – with the recent Blizzard Convention (BlizzCon) attendance of 26000 people being a benchmark for sustained player interest in the company despite the plethora of news articles expounding upon the steady decline of subscribers within the company’s popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.
Personally, as a gamer from young, I used to follow whichever videogame company that made games which I found interesting. And I still do, actually! It started out as an obsession with Westwood’s (now under EA Games) Command & Conquer series, before a friend’s well-meaning, but fateful, introduction to Warcraft 2, which eventually led a the love-hate relationship with Blizzard and all the games that they produced (damn addictions!). It was easy to embrace their videogames – everyone else around me was doing it. The intensely popular Warcraft series, and the subsequent Defense of the Ancients (DotA) mod that came along with it, the crazy amount of time put into grinding in Diablo and World of Warcraft – just examples of the addictive quality of their games.
The statistics speak for themselves – 26000 strong at the most recent BlizzCon despite naysayers claiming that Blizzard is dying out in the wake of popular alternatives such as Valve’s Steam, Riot Games and the ‘evil’ money-grubbing EA Games. I believe branding has an immense effect on marketing each respective company’s game to the masses – even videogames need that special catalyst called social currency. Word of mouth, online forums and chatrooms, social media, et al. all play important roles in ensuring an ongoing interest in these gaming brands as well as attracting new players to the community.
Blizzard does this by throwing massive events like BlizzCon. Fans go to BlizzCon not only to see the new game being unveiled, or snatch up whatever free goodies they can get their hands on; but rather, participate in the atmosphere and community that only an event like BlizzCon can provide – meeting friends you’ve never met before in real life, basking in the vibrant atmosphere while Blink 182 plays in the background, or meeting famous people in the community such as Hafu and Reckful…
But I digress. Blizzard is just an example I’ve chosen due to my knowledge of its community – I’m definitely sure the same effects of social currency apply to the other abovementioned brands, if not, they would have gone under ages ago. The thousands of participants drawn to these events surely reveal how impeccably such companies brand themselves, and hence, remain powerhouses and big names in the current videogame community.