by Greg Costikyan
art by Michael R. & the Illchemist
|Browse the Hit Hunter fall catalog!|
Deer Hunter was the number one best-selling PC game for several months. Trophy Bass clocked in at the number eight best-seller for 1997.
Needless to say, these games set conventional wisdom on its head. They aren't first-person shooters, and they sure aren't real-time strategy games. They don't sell to the hardcore. They're different.
The computer gaming industry isn't completely incapable of learning from experience, even though it may seem that way sometimes. You can bet the major publishers sat up and took notice of the success of these games. But as you might also expect, they've drawn the wrong conclusions.
The first thing they noticed was that Deer Hunter premiered in Wal-Mart, and was sold exclusively there for a time. Indeed, Wal-Mart approached GT Interactive with the idea, and pushed the game hard. In case you've had your head buried in the sand for the last decade, Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. They can move a lot of product.
Their next observation was, hey, rednecks will buy games if you give them something on a subject they can relate to.
So what the publishers concluded is: line up Wal-Mart and do games with shit-kicker appeal, and you're golden.
So we're going to see a lot of these kind of games in the next year or so. And you can bet that a constant stream of sales guys from the computer game publishers is flowing through Bentonville as we speak. Bentonville, Ark., is where Wal-Mart is located; the closest airport is hours away, and if you want to sell to Wal-Mart, that's where you have to go, to kiss the ring of Sam Walton's vicars on Earth.
But what the publishers should have realized is this: you can succeed in selling a game that appeals to a special interest, if you line up strong support on the retail end first. Do a game on dog-breeding and try to sell it through Software Etc., and you're dead. Do a game on dog-breeding and get it in every pet store in the country, and you've got a shot.
So what they should be doing is commissioning games on subjects people are passionate about--and lining up retailers other than Wal-Mart to push them. Here's six game-cum-marketing concepts to give you an idea what I mean, free for the taking.
Check out the Hit Hunter fall catalog....