Saturday, February 07, 2004

Case Study in Line Extension

And it's back to marketing, speaking of no focus.

I just checked out the Secret Weapons Over Normandy post-mortem in the latest GD and #5 on the What Went Wrong caught my eye: they had trouble getting the word out that this Secret Weapons was more arcadey than the last one, and apparently some people aren't happy with its arcadey-ness.

One thing Jack Trout and Al Reis would say (this from *the 22 Laws of Marketing*) is that line extensions give you a short term gain for a long term loss. In other words, by taking the Secret Weapons line of hardcore flight sim and trying to extend it into an arcadey console market, LucasArts will sell a few more copies at first but pay for it later because nobody will know what Secret Weapons means anymore. Jack & Al would probably argue that it would have been better to create a whole new product line than try to ride on the success of previous titles. In other words, the difficulty with product messaging started with the very name of their product. If they wanted to avoid misconceptions about the title, they should have simply named it something else, and their #5 What Went Wrong would have gone away.

I'm making it out to be worse than it is - now that Totally Games has jumped with both feet into arcade-flight, they can stay there and build a happy home. (As long as they stop doing hardcore sims under the Secret Weapons name.) There have been examples of titles that used to mean one thing but now mean something else - although no really good examples are coming to mind right now, there was a list of them in *Positioning*...

But if they try to keep both markets then they'll end up with a weak brand.

Getting into marketing is kind of depressing for us developers because usually all we can do is hope our publisher's marketing department doesn't screw it up...