Like OL magistrate and chief jester Caffeine Powered, 2013 was a bit of a banner year for me. Overwhelming change in my personal life — from a return to postgraduate education, to a complete re-invention of my career and life direction, to the advent of a serious, life-changing relationship — it’s been a year of serious upheaval for me, and one that I now realize deeply affected the entertainment I enjoyed.
I promise, I ain’t full of shit when I say this – what you do, and who you do it with has a huge effect on what you partake in and what you’re drawn to. My new career has me in Communications and Public Relations. It’s no coincidence then that my great fascination this year in the nerd sphere was the amazing PR landmarks and media fiascos that accompanied the console gaming space. E3 in particular was THE shitshow of 2013, a spectacularly-enjoyable ride for gamers everywhere, and one that meant so much more to me now that my mind was tuned to the Comm/PR-perspective on everything. The way a business conducts itself publicly, the way it announces its products, the way it does damage control – these things fascinate me. They rocked me. I loved every second, and this year more than any, was aware of my own consumer agency as I allowed myself to partake in the stories businesses were trying to weave and tell to their audiences.
Here’s what captured me this year:
Let’s talk about how important Monday was for determining the game industry’s narrative for the coming months.
Let’s also talk about what it means to gamers like you, and me, and how industry giants like Microsoft and Sony communicated with us via the grand stage of E3.
Monday saw PR-beleageured Microsoft take the stage first, around 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time. There’s no beating around the bush – they had an uphill battle to wage, one very much set up by their own PR snafoos over the last month.
Welcome to E3 vs PR – A blog series on the Gaming Industry’s Most Important Season from a Communications Perspective.
You’re having a bad PR week with the media if you’re one of the following two clients:
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, following allegations of crack-cocaine use caught on tape, or, Microsoft’s Games and Entertainment Division, following the incredibly confused and poorly communicated debut of their next generation platform, the Xbox One (XBO).
I’m a gamer. Have been since I was 3. I’m also an upcoming communications and PR graduate. The lens I’m looking at this industry through is changing radically, but the last week has been bad enough that the popular opinion is all on the same side.
We all threw our hands up at Microsoft’s lack of a coherent set of key messages throughout the eight days since launch. Everything we’ve been taught not to do, they’re doing.
While Microsoft didn’t match Ford and (allegedly) break the law over the last poorly-planned eight days of the XBO PR launch, you’d definitely call most of their actions criminal, from a communications perspective.
A game and entertainment console ‘reveal’ is one of the most critical and risk-laden PR events that can take place in the interactive entertainment industry. A console, like the XBO’s predecessor, the XBox 360, typically lives on the market for a healthy five to six years. That’s before being relegated to second-tier status upon its successor’s launch for the next three or four years.