What makes an advertisement a good investment? To be honest, I have no idea. There are so many market dispositions and variables that I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to market a broad audience product such as Coca-Cola, let alone a niche market like an MMORPG. So how do these guys come up with their advertisements?
Well if you look at the photo above you’ll see that there is a billboard advertisement for Conquer Online, a free2play MMORPG from a small-time developer in China. The billboard is completely legit, and is not a photoshop. I have driven by it a number of times (for those curious it’s off the 60 freeway just outside Los Angeles, CA). So why a billboard? The return investment on such a method of marketing can’t possibly be worth it. You’d think the developer would rather spend money advertising on videogame based websites or magazines. Traditional, tried and true, methods of advertising. Perhaps they are relying on websites such as ours to spotlight their obsurd advertisements, in which case, you win this round NetDragon.
NetDragon, of course, isn’t the only MMO developer to persue out of the box advertising. Every knows that WoW has a series of television commercials that are aired nationally and internationally that spotlight former actors playing the game such as William Shatner, Mr. T, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Of course, in WoW’s defense, their game has successfully broken into the mass market with millions of subscribers in the U.S. alone. Even Everquest 2 ran a series of commercials when the game initially launched oh so many years ago.
So I guess that leads me back to my original question: what makes an advertisement a good investment? I suppose we will never know if any of these advertisements truly worked for these companies, but that’s not to say they won’t work at all. I think it is safe to assume that, as the industry (MMO industry that is) gets older and older we will begin to see more and more advertisements in the general media. It only makes sense, as the motion picture and videogame industry went through the same process.