There's a recent trend among video game retailers that's worthy of note for brand marketers. For a while now, retailers such as GameStop have been offering exclusive extras for their customers. These premiums were typically small tchotchkes, small inexpensive trinkets. But now we're seeing this trend extend into the realm of downloadable content.
While it would be great to see an uptick in quality branded games, there are definitely some barriers. For one, the skill set for making fun, simple, casual games isn't especially widespread -- it seems like it's easy to make an OK advergame, but very difficult to make a good one.
Some of the most innovative games over the past two years have been concepts so powerful there is no way they could have made it into a box. Innovation is a difficult thing to commit to when the life or death of a company hangs in the balance. With the rising costs in game production, the market is becoming less amenable to taking risks. Because of this, more and more of the innovation in the industry seems to be leaving the retail box.
Every once in a while, the specter of universal ratings for multiple content forms -- TV, video games, mobile content, and the like -- rears up in Washington and needs to be put down. Late last week, it appeared once again, with the Federal Communications Commission starting its inquiry after delivering a report to Congress about media blocking technologies.