Video Games: The First Person Marketer


If you’re looking for a timely, evolving industry to conduct marketing experimentation in, look no further than the intense rivalry and trigger-happy world of video gaming.

The US video game industry pulled in $21.3 billion in revenue last year, a 19% increase in an economy where GDP fell 0.5% in the height of the retail season.

The industry is commonly known to have roots with Ralph Baer, inventor of the so called “Brown Box” game console (many offshoots of which have arisen since). He sold his invention to Magnavox, which marketed it as the “Magnavox Odyssey”. Sales were difficult to come by, and only 100,000 units were sold by the end of 1974 (compare that to Nintendo Wii sales of 274,000 in January 2008 alone).

Rivalry was fierce from the beginning, with Phillips creating its own version – creatively named the “Phillips Odyssey” or “dark brown coloured box” – two years later. Games like Pong (Atari) and PacMan (Nameco) sparked everything from lawsuits to mergers and the industry gained speed throughout the 1980s and 90s with competitors like Electronics Arts (EA), Take Two, and Activision coming on the scene.

I worked on some customer profiles for the VG industry that I’m pretty proud of…

Hardcore gamers:

  • dedicated to certain game franchises
  • includes “cyberathletes” who make a living on playing games professionally
  • buy games on a “need to have” basis

He's practicing communication skills.

He's practicing communication skills.

Primary motivation: status among peers, but price is still a factor; high quality and degree of technological advancement

Casual gamers:

  • mostly women and seniors (50+)
  • interested solely in filling leisure time (the U.S. average of which will steadily increase to about 70 hours per week by 2013)

She's staying casual.

She's staying casual.

Primary motivation: convenience of access (primarily online), ease of learning to play, low cost


  • action and learning games
  • focus on PC – since most families already own one – rather than consoles
  • “Family Entertainment” grew 110% over the previous year (one of every 6 games sold in 2007 was a family game)
  • end user is sometimes children, but the buyer is almost always parents



Primary motivation: enjoy time with children/family, learning experience for child

I did all this research for a class, but I’m actually really enamored with the video game industry.  Not saying I’m cultivating a new hobby, but next time you head off to a LAN party, at least I’ll know what you’re talking about.


4 Responses to “Video Games: The First Person Marketer”

  1. “the U.S. average of which will steadily increase to about 70 hours per week by 2013”

    -Is this because no one will be employed at that point?

  2. 2 Kristin

    Apparently, the average right now is 69. I assume they considered job hunting to be leisurely…

  3. Your Gamer Guy has Moobs, AND he’s nippin’ out. That’s so distracting.

  4. 4 Jimmy


    I’m doing a presentation on Game theory at a conference this upcoming week and wanted to use the hardcore gamer.jpg. Where did you get it? I found it through Google search. Thanks so much! Sweet blog by the way.


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