I heard about the resignation of Omeed Dariani on Twitter, and was trying to suss out my feelings as I thought he was a fun person to watch on Twitch. When a Reddit post came to my attention where he wrote that he resigned due to a philosophical difference with other people at Sony Online Entertainment, I had to stop and pause.
What did he mean when he referred to a community-first marketing approach? What was SOE doing with its marketing that made him want to try to steer the marketing direction in a different way?
It was when Keen of Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog wrote up a post about his own misgivings with Landmark and Everquest Next that I had to write something about it, if only to reason out my own feelings for closure.
In a post entitled, “Good News for Everquest Marketing,” Keen lamented what he saw as the current state of the game’s marketing push, to which I’ll slightly alter Dariani’s term and call community-centric marketing.
On this community-centric marketing push, Keen wrote,
I don’t know why I feel this way, but I started to feel insulted by SOE’s focus on creating an inner-circle of community members. There has been a huge sense of favoritism and a tie to people like the live streamers that has left a severely bitter taste in my mouth. This “SOE Insiders” program needs to be stopped immediately. Having to watch other streamers to get in-game items, having to have one foot in-game and another foot out to participate in this “community” has been quite ugly. The antics of promoting streamers and everything but the actual game will not be missed, and I hope SOE takes notice and continues to clean up.
What is community-centric marketing? It’s the kind of marketing where you foster loyalty towards a brand (Such as Everquest Next/Landmark) by growing a community around the brand, making people familiar with it, then using what could be seen as the most influential people in that community to spread the word about that brand.
It’s not the fastest process save for when something goes viral, but it works in certain cases because the entrenched community of players supports the brand strongly.
My mental example of this is In-N-Out Burger in the US, which people know about but can only experience in limited locations… but has the advantage of gaining a loyal fanbase of fast food fans who love their products.
Community-expanding marketing and Landmark
In contrast (and I lack the proper term for it, so I apologize for the next few words), community expanding marketing is what happens when you have a big marketing push for a brand. This is the equivalent to McDonald’s coming out with an ad campaign, I suppose.
It’s meant to fan the flames of hype and, as I see it, keep people talking and expanding the community by getting more people excited over it.
I think Omeed Dariani and Keen both want what’s best for Landmark and EQN, but I can’t safely say whether fostering a growing community is better than starting a hype train to EQN-ville when we don’t have an ETA for a finished Landmark game.
Worse still, I think Keen’s point of view is from that of an Everquest or Everquest II fan, so Landmark’s marketing process may seem a lot different than what he’s used to for an MMO.
One thing I can agree with Keen though is that it’s a tad unwieldy right now to follow Everquest Next and Landmark updates because updates can be in one of many places.
“I want SOE to focus on their forums again. I want a huge shift back to their own website with regular updates.,“ Keen writes. With that bit, I agree. It’s a lot easier to get all the information at a glance if all the official statements are on their forums and update posts happen more frequently, instead of the hodge-podge of Twitch streams and fan posts.
Of course, Twitch streams and fan posts are good, mind you, but centralized, accurate information is worth its weight in gold as well. Right now, it can be tough to find every morsel of information out there unless I’m actively spending more than an hour reading through the forums and Reddit, and watching an hour-long stream every week.
Then of course, we can have the best of both worlds, considering everything. They just need proper documentation for all their shows (essentially show notes) condensed on the forums, and announced on a schedule so everyone is on the same page. You don’t give up the community-centric aspect of Omeed’s perceived vision, and you also cater to the hype train by making the data easily mineable.
As always, I look forward to your comments. I’d love to know what you guys think of Landmark’s marketing strategy and how you’d describe it. If you have a funny Omeed anecdote too, send it in.