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Feature: 'Five Prescriptions for Viral Games'

For today's exclusive Gamasutra feature, veteran designer Jon Radoff explains why 'virality' isn't a post-design job for marketing, but something that needs to be built in at the ver
For today's exclusive Gamasutra feature, veteran designer Jon Radoff explains why 'virality' isn't a post-design job for marketing, but something that needs to be built in at the very outset of game design. In his introduction, Radoff sets the scene for precisely that point -- that if the aspects of virality aren't tackled from the start and made an integral part of your game design, there's little chance that a marketing department can exploit it later: "For the past decade, the idea of “viral marketing” has become widespread, spurred by the growth of the Internet. At its most fundamental, the idea is often nothing more than word-of-mouth: the most viral products (and memes) are those that people are most likely to share with others. The Internet is a natural place for the spread of such things, because instant and fast communication make it easy for popular ideas to spread. The advantage to the marketer is that product awareness is driven by the loyal customers of a product, rather than expensive advertising and promotion programs. Games have the potential to be phenomenally viral—but the mistake that most game studios make is in thinking about it as purely a post-design job for the marketing department. In fact, making a game viral is something that needs to be thought of at the very outset of game design—it incorporates aspects of game design, marketing and player community. If virality isn’t “designed in” to the game, it is unlikely that any type of marketing program can add it later. For larger game studios, thinking about these issues is central to creating a strong and enduring brand; and for smaller studios, it presents the opportunity to create products that have a much better chance of rising above the noise level. This article will explore some of the techniques that game designers can use to incorporate viral-marketing into their products from day zero." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject for strategies widely applicable to help make your game more virally marketable (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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