Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Strategic Assessment Exercise

You are the director of strategic marketing for a mid-level software game company. Your goal is to secure a strategic disposition at the show that would make you the "buzz" of the exposition.

q: What are you going to do to gain that "buzz"?

q: What are you going to assess?

q: What is your positional strategy for being "the signal that is above the noise"?


June 9, 2009
Video Games
Electronic Fair Returns, Trying to Regain Its Luster

LOS ANGELES E3 is back. After a two-year experiment as a relatively sedate, exclusive conference, the Electronic Entertainment Expo returned to its bombastic glory here last week as video games’ premier global showcase. Attracting more than 41,000 attendees from almost 80 nations, E3 recaptured its buzz of old without degenerating into the sort of over-the-top crush that had prompted the retrenchment in the first place.

Here are eight of the most interesting and exciting games from E3 that are scheduled to be released this year. This list does not include any of the potential blockbusters from E3 scheduled for 2010, a lineup that includes the suspense thriller Alan Wake, God of War III, Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII.

BIOSHOCK 2 The sequel to one of the most important games of recent years, BioShock returns players to Rapture, the ruined Art Deco city under the Atlantic Ocean. In the first game players uncovered the story of the twisted civil war in Rapture’s supposedly utopian society. With its pointed, mature critique of the notion of free will, BioShock set a new bar for interactive storytelling. BioShock 2 hopes to continue the adventure. It is to be released by 2K Games on Nov. 3 for the Play Station 3, Xbox 360 and Windows.

NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. For more than two decades, Mario’s side-scrolling, two-dimensional journey to rescue Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. has stood as one of the seminally entertaining interactive adventures. At E3, Nintendo announced that it was developing the first multiplayer version, allowing as many as four players to jump and bounce over one another at once. It is to be released by Nintendo by year’s end for Wii.

BAYONETTA While the Mario games may epitomize the cute, family-friendly end of the spectrum in Japanese game design, Bayonetta represents the other end: stylized, flashy and spectacularly violent. Bayonetta, a statuesque, impossibly proportioned witch, is capable of wielding an entire arsenal at once, including multiple guns and swords, not to mention magical attacks unleased by her pulsing mane. Both gory and titillating, Bayonetta is to be released by Sega this year for the PS3 and 360.

HALO 3: ODST. While there is plenty of hectic front-line combat in ODST, a stand-alone prequel to Halo 3, much of the new game places the player in the role of a stealthy special-operations trooper picking his way through the vast ruins of New Mombasa. It is to be released by Microsoft on Sept. 22 for 360.

DJ HERO Activision hosted the party of E3, with Jay-Z, Eminem, DJ AM, Travis Barker and Warren G performing for the private crowd at the Wiltern Theater. But DJ Hero would have made this list even without the party (no, really). For all of the millions of copies the Guitar Hero series has sold, there are still millions of people who prefer hip-hop, electronica, trance and dance music to guitar anthems. It is to be released by Activision on Oct. 27 for PlayStation 2, PS3, 360 and Wii.

MAG MAG for massive action game promises to allow 256 players to blast away at one another simultaneously on one uninterrupted, virtually seamless near-future battlefield, a prodigious technical feat. MAG could represent a watershed for online gaming. If it works, that is. It is to be released by Sony this fall for PS3.

MODERN WARFARE 2 No line of games has yet provided a more consistently compelling rendition of the battlefield than the Call of Duty series. Modern Warfare 2 continues the story of the Call of Duty universe, with the player taking the role of various Western commandos on the hunt for international terrorists. Combining stealth sequences, all-out firefights and vehicular combat, Modern Warfare is to be released by Activision on Nov. 10 for the PS3, 360 and Windows.

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS My sentimental favorite of E3, Dragon Age is a throwback to the old-school single-player fantasy role-playing game. Of course it helps (a lot) that it is being made by the team behind the Baldur’s Gate series some of the best old-school single-player fantasy role-playing games. Like Baldur’s Gate, Dragon Age appears to mix deep story lines and personal interactions, including the inevitable love triangles, with its sword-and-sorcery action. It is to be released by Electronic Arts on Oct. 20 for the PS3, 360 and Windows.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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