Within a mile of me, right now there are hundreds of students lining up outside of the local Gamestop to buy the latest release of Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare 3. MW3 is one of the most popular video games in history, and boasts millions of players and fans who eagerly await the next installment of the game. Infinity Ward (the company behind the game) has made millions from game sales, but have made a big mistake.
Those hundreds of people lining up outside Gamestop represent some of Infinity Ward’s best customers – and they have no idea who they are. Gamestop or the Playstation network has every bit of information about the people who actually buy MW3, which is a huge lost opportunity for Infinity Ward. Rather than spend millions running a minute-long TV commercial during several Sunday NFL games (which they did), why not allow MW3 players to download a free gun color scheme (or other prize) in exchange for signing up to learn about future releases from Infinity Ward? I guarantee those who are buying MW3 have all heard of the franchise before – the commercials aren’t capturing anyone new.
Not only would this give Infinity Ward a huge customer base to draw on for future product releases, but it would give them the chance to talk with their users and find out what type of games they are interested in. The video game industry is much like the movie industry, in that it’s driven by hits. Most games flop, but those that make it are generally huge successes. Many gamers buy multiple games, and would love the chance to give feedback (that is actually listened to) and participate in developing a game they would want to play.
There are plenty of things like these that are obvious, but just don’t happen for one reason or another. Those companies that do make it happen are well-positioned to take advantage in a rapidly changing world.