Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selling Games using Social Media

In the video game industry, it can be difficult to determine whether a game will actually return a profit. Game enthusiasts tend to believe that one of the key factors to a game's success is how high it scores in online reviews, and yet some of the most highly praised works still manage to get relatively unsatisfying sales figures.

One interesting story about this is the game Ōkami. The game was published by Capcom in 2006 for the PlayStation 2 system, and two years later a Wii version of the same game was released.

This game had almost everything going for it: very high reviews, several awards from leading publications, compatibility with two consoles, and an almost worldwide distribution. And yet the game just didn't sell very well for some reason. Guinness World Records found Ōkami to be the least commercially successful game to have ever won a Game of the Year award from a major publication.

Around the same time that Capcom released the Wii version of Ōkami, the company began working on the game's sequel, known as Ōkamiden. This time they decided to make the game for the Nintendo DS handheld system, probably anticipating that by moving to a system with lower production costs, they may increase their chances of profiting from the title. There was still, however, the challenge of marketing the game, and to make it worse, the team had a relatively low marketing budget.

This is where Facebook comes in.

With all of the praise and awards that the original game had won, the Ōkami franchise had managed to build a "rabid global fan base" (that's how the team's director and producer described it). By continuously updating the The Official Ōkami Fan Page on Facebook, they were able to rally the fans' excitement for the upcoming sequel as well as refuel their enthusiasm for the original game.

The team describes in their postmortem: "By utilizing Facebook in this way, the Ōkami brand now has a global hub for any future titles in the series. Over 20 different countries interact on a daily basis with the page and we can continue to tell tales, share stories, and unfold the myths of the world of Ōkami in this location, sharing stories and ideas about Ōkami beyond digital borders in a very social way."

The developers of the game clearly believe that Facebook saved their game from obscurity. I myself followed the fan page, and I admit that it definitely made me wish I had a Nintendo DS so that I could play the new game. In the meantime, I guess I'll just continue to replay the original.


  1. Kind of short but i like that it was straight to the point and very well put together. Keep is up dude.