Right now, I really want the new Batman: Arkham Origins game. Nerd factor aside - I haven’t decided to buy it yet. I’ve just asked myself, ‘why not’? As marketing campaigns for video games go, the new instalment of the Arkham series has done pretty well - appealing partly to my nostalgic expectations and partly to my desire to see what the game actually consists of.
Most video games in the triple A industry have all but given up on audiences, choosing to promote in the style of movie trailers - in that ever progressing attempt from both sides to cross over into each other’s territory - while offering no hint as to what the purchaser will actually receive for their money. Branding is the obvious excuse for this - why bother showing game-play for Grand Theft Auto when everyone knows what to expect? All you need to do is get a dust-buster on the synopsis of the previous instalment and it’s a brand new masterpiece of originality (and don’t let anyone point out how much money they spent making it because the Transformers movies were expensive too and you could simulate that experience by pacing in a jail cell made of Bop-It machines). Branding isn’t an excuse though because then we look at The Last Of Us 2 ERM I MEAN Beyond: Lost Souls which even boasts the cast members including Willem Dafoe and the girl from the first Last Of Us ERM I MEAN Ellen Page.
So, what is it that makes us buy things? If you’re selling something it’s important to remember that you can never force someone to buy something, regardless of how much you push it.
I've always been very interested in TV and poster advertisements. Living in Singapore for a while showed me how culture and environment effect advertising attitudes - Singapore would be mostly fear. A mosquito advert in Singapore features a 2-year-old girl with a teddy bear playing happily while a giant mosquito plunges down towards her ignorant face. The text reads "Your little girl. Her nightmare is about to begin. and for the family too." Bad grammar aside, it's advertising styles like this that use fear to the point of hilarity - but this isn't actually selling a product. In the UK the attempts at TV advertising suggest limited faith in the British population with slightly overweight. balding, hoody-wearing men representing the financially struggling, while beautiful, infinitely patient women in three-quarter-length trousers represent middle-class mothers. When making an ad it’s important to make people associate with real life. Most of our brain’s function is to deal with social situations and we process information better in these contexts - the same reason maths sums in exams are often set in a social contexts (swapping watermelons or marbles or prescription bottles etc).
However it's the personal sales where the really subtle psychology comes into it, and here it's very important that people like you. We make most decisions based on emotions, not logic. You’re far more likely to keep someone interested if they like you, and if you can make them feel that buying from you would be doing you a favour as well as helping themselves, it can push a customer from on the fence to purchase decision.
Of course, before you get there you need to convince a customer that what you have is something they want. Remember here that people are always suspicious. The cynical nature of the world will mean you’ll need to gain their trust, but generally people want to be sold products so remember to be honest and fill them with confidence in the product (and therefore you). Don’t treat customers like you’re trying to ‘sell’ to them - if you treat them like you’re trying to ‘help’ them instead, the entire process can become mutually beneficial.
Take some time to research for yourself and for some particularly well-informed reads, try Dean Rieck. So what has made me not buy the new Batman game? Opportunity cost, and the knowledge that if I would have to trade a few days of eating and/or life (thanks for that, economy). There’s nothing anyone else can do about that (besides feed me and give me money), but the game did what it was trying to do correctly - created desire to its target audience. I want.