Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Accidental Genius

I've seen two great uses of word of mouth and new media by EA recently, but I can't figure out if they were on purpose or not. I guess that's the future of internet promotions really - if they're done well people are sucked in without knowing about it.

Become the enemy of your friends enemy

The first thing they did was attack the dodgy developer Tim Langdell, who was famous only for having copyrighted the word Edge and using it to get money off of loads of real developers. He had recently got a game called Edge taken off the App store and this had lead to the gaming community uncovering his various unpleasant methods of creating court cases, such as pretending he had a game called 'MIRRORS a game by EDGE' in production.

And so this is where EA came in and decided to take Tim to court over the fact that he was forcing real developers to pay him money for no legitimate reason. Thus somehow the lawyers of a big corporation were being hailed as heroes by fans of small indie studios. Just a few short years ago EA's lawyers were a symbol of everything wrong with the games industry to many hardcore gamers, so whether it was on purpose or not, the lawsuit made a real positive impact on the company's image.

A bug in the system

This one I'm fairly certain wasn't on purpose, but it would have been so clever I really hope it was the work of a marketing man.

Last Saturday there was a bug on the EA store which meant putting three specific games in your basket got you them for free. Seems like a terrible thing for a business, but as soon as one customer got the games for free the internet was flooded with people talking about the EA store and stepping over their own mother to sign up and get the games before the bug was fixed.

At a time when EA are desperately trying to create an online digital distribution service which can compete with the likes of Steam, this 'bug' created word of mouth the size and speed of which no ordinary promotion could have managed.


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