Warcraft Marketing 101

I’m constantly fascinated watching how game development companies market their products. Be it through Kickstarters, word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, or good old-fashioned advertisements, it’s interesting to see what decisions companies make with their marketing. It’s even more interesting when a monster company like Blizzard is trying to market multiple games at once. There was a little bit of kerfuffling yesterday on Twitter because of one little miniscule and inconsequential tweet:

Couple of things to discuss here. First, the date itself honestly isn’t that big of a surprise. I was telling a friend yesterday morning that I thought it would be out around August/September, and then a couple of hours later, BOOM! Called it. My theory is that the date is a purely marketing decision and has nothing to do with “when it’s ready”. Marketing teams live and die by their calendars, so I think their thought process went something like this:

Warcraft Movie: June 10. Influx of new/returning players due to hype and any free game/gametime with purchase. Allow a month and a half for those new and returning players to play, level, boost, find guilds, get through WoD content, etc. They are betting on a good spike in subs here.

August 2: Drop the Legion Pre-Patch. Allow four weeks for pre-patch events to build up to a climax. This will grab that movie spike and push it up even more.

August 30: Legion is live! Open the gates and storm the portals! And they’ll get yet ANOTHER spike on top of the movie and pre-patch numbers.

This all opposed to dropping the movie and pre-patch or launch at once… why go for one big spike when you can draw it out and possibly build on your numbers? Blizzard said that they are no longer releasing sub numbers, but make no mistake, they are definitely looking at sub numbers internally and trying to make the most of this event. So while this seems like so far away, and yes it’s a really long time for raiders to spend in Hellfire Citadel, there is a method to the madness.

Secondly, the method in which they released the information: a tweet as opposed to a big announcement as they did for Warlords of Draenor. Again, this has far less to do with the state of Warcraft and more to do with a Marketing Calendar. The thing here is to remember that Blizzard is now managing a portfolio of games and events, as opposed to having 1-2 heavy hitters. Overwatch is launching on May 24 so at this point in the calendar, they want all the major communications and hype to be about Overwatch. Once Overwatch is out, attention will quickly turn to the Warcraft franchise and we’ll all have the summer of Warcraft hype to enjoy. No need to fret, our time is coming very soon.

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