Ideal PLCM strategy for a game IP: Impossible or feasible?!
Wow, my last (oops, and first!) post was on January 20! Lots of things have happened since then :). I’ve been trying to update the blog regularly but found no time to do so, because of a plethora of things I had to do. Besides coping with my part-time student job at a local hotel, I’ve continued my work as a community manager on the Facebook fan pages of the uni I go to (alongside my best friend, that is) and spent many hours studying for the exams still waiting on my plate. Not only that, but I also paid another visit to my thesis mentor to pinpoint my thesis topic which I can now finally reveal as “The product life cycle management (PLCM) of console-based videogame franchises”. That’s right, a topic RIGHT up my alley and one that should keep me motivated straight to the end! 🙂 Obviously, I’ve also made sure to keep the dust off my 360 and PS3 ;).
To maintain the gaming nature of my blog and better explain what my thesis will be about, I’ve decided to focus this post on my chosen thesis topic. What’s interesting is that I’ve had many ideas of what to base my thesis on in the past year and the topic that I’ve now chosen didn’t surface as an alternative until as late as two weeks ago. Before I came up with the chosen one, I was mainly thinking of writing about the success of Nintendo’s Wii, due to being able to muster up many interesting points about it, and the lack of appeal of the Xbox 360 in Japan. As soon as I learned that the point of a thesis is certainly not to simply explain what has already happened, especially since it’s now commonly known that Nintendo made use of the reputable blue ocean strategy for its latest outings (minus the 3DS), and, in the case of the Xbox 360-related candidate, that I would need a lot of hard-to-get data (preferably primary), to even consider tackling the question, not to mention that this issue doesn’t only pertain to the Xbox 360 but many other Western products, I went back to the drawing board.
It was 4 a.m., I think, and I was counting down the last hours until the end of my night shift. As usual, I was scavenging the interwebs for any leftover morsels of game news that I had yet not absorbed or, possibly, news hot off the press, but to no avail. Therefore, I just sat back and started thinking about the burning news that had broken a few hours earlier – “Activision cans Guitar Hero and True Crime: Honk Kong!”, “Genuine shocker: No Tony Hawk this year!!11” – and it was in that light-bulb moment that I somehow connected the story of the day to my need of a thesis topic. I fired as many questions related to this topic as I could to test its validity: “Everyone is now suddenly bitching about there being no Guitar Hero planned for this year and blaming Activision for running the franchise into the ground, and while the gamer side of me definitely agrees about the latter, is Activision really the culprit here? After all, it’s just business and they are doing nothing but catering to the demands of their investors. What if they knew what they were doing all along? What if precisely this outcome was part of their PLCM strategy for Guitar Hero from the moment the sales had dropped? But aren’t they just jumping out of the pan and into the fire as far as their already damaged reputation is concerned? Won’t this have any lasting negative consequences further down the road, either when dealing with their new/existing business partners or from the eyes of the consumer? I mean, they have already cemented themselves as the new most evil game company (previous title holder being EA) in many a gamer’s perception. How much lower will they let themselves go in that regard?” And so on :).
To cut it short, in the end, I asked myself what the ideal way to handle a game intellectual property (IP) from the moment it’s born actually was. Presuming the first iteration is successful (this will be one of my initial assumptions, as I don’t intend to talk about the things that make one game successful – that’s a whole other story), what’s the next step? When’s the next release? How much time and money do you invest? How frequently should you be releasing your games? What is the best way to both keep your game franchise in fans’ minds and prevent it from becoming stale, on top of reaping the best possible profits? Is there any such thing as a perfect PLCM strategy for a game IP? Now that’s what I really want to find out, for the industry’s and, naturally, my own sake.
Wish me good luck! 😉