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Opinon: We Need "Celebrities"

The video game industry is huge yet it has no "celebrities" of its own. Imagine just what could happen if common people, not just hardcore gamers, knew the names of the developers.

Joshua Lin

December 6, 2009

6 Min Read

Take a look at these names: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Joss Whedon. What are the similarities between the three of them? Well, for starters, they are all famous in their field. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are well known for being the CEO of Microsoft and Apple Inc. Joss Whedon is popular among the television viewers who watched Buffy and Firefly. Where am I going with this?

One thing I noticed inthe video game industry is that while there are many consumers and video game companies, there are hardly "celebrities" in the industry. Nearly every other industry has a"celebrity" or a "face." With the computer and software industry, there is Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; both of whom are more than willing meet with the public. The public want to know more about them and any new products they will come out with.

The public is after all, full of human beings. Being human, they want to follow the lives of those who seem to be living the life which they can only dream about having. They are obsessed with the lives of other people, especially the lives of people they wish we could be. If companies have an employee to represent the company not merely as a press release correspondent but as a “celebrity,” I am confident that more people will hear about the company's products thus leading to an increase in sales simply by following the "celebrity." 

Imagine this if you will: Joss Whedon announces that he will create a new series next spring. What do you think the response will be? No doubt, the fans will go crazy with excitement about this new show that Joss Whedon is writing. No news as to what the show will be about and already the fans are already drooling over this show-that-has-yet-to-be-made.

Now imagine the fans spread the word to their friends who may not have seen any of Joss Whedon’s shows. Now word of mouth spreads like wildfire as people go back towatch some of his previous shows and founding out that they liked it. Now more people are excited about the new series that is coming out. However, no news as to what this series is going to be about has been announced. Why would there need to be? The name, Joss Whedon, alone has already sold the show.

 The video game industry needs to learn that the inclusion of having some employees be well known in the world would be greatly beneficial. Marketing teams need to find some way to find someone on the development team and use him/her to the company’s advantage. One such company, Ubisoft, has already tried this strategy.

Jade Raymond is one of the producers in Ubisoft for the game Assassin's Creed and became quite famous among gamers. Before Assassin's Creed, Jade Raymond was a producer in Ubisoft. Once the company used Jade Raymond as part of their marketing tool to engage with the public and help boost the image of the company, she became relatively famous inside and outside the industry. The press loved writing about her and people began to grow curious about her. Simply by knowing more about her, people also inevitably began to know more about Assassin's Creed.

This peaked the interests of not just hardcore gamers but also the casual players who wished to know everything they can about a game that has not been released yet. It was through Ms. Raymond that people heard about Assassin's Creed when they otherwise may not have. True, Assassin’s Creed was an awesome game and was designed elegantly, but having Jade Raymond known to the public certainly helped spread the popularity. Eventually through word of mouth and some other advertisements, Assassin's Creed became a highly anticipated game. Assassin's Creed would eventually help increase Ubisoft's sales up to 44% or 450 million Euros.

This is practically a low-cost marketing strategy that will greatly benefit the company. The only real cost would be time required from both the person whom the company selectsto be their "face" and the person/people responsible for making it happen. However, there is also the risk of bad publication such as how one cartoonist drew inappropriate pictures of Jade Raymond. While this is considered bad publicity, overall the general public felt sympathetic to Jade Raymond and the issue at hand actually turned up better for her in the end. As terrible as bad publicity can be, it may still be better than not having any publicity at all. 

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