As a specialist in social media (as part of digital and mobile marketing), I’m not immune to the influence of my own social networks. And that was driven home to me earlier this week, with a direct result in financial terms.
I’ve been playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a lot over the past year, and during that time, a group of mainly UK, 30-something gamers has gathered within one or two degrees of my social circle. It’s quite a small group in terms of the more organised ‘Clans’, but there’s enough of us, and enough dedication/obsession to mean that some of the group are online pretty much any evening that you care to look. (And many of them are 30+ professionals, backing up the theory online gaming is the new golf for business networking!)
Last Monday at midnight saw the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops – the new game in the CoD series. Given that MW2 is the biggest-selling game of all time in the UK (20 million sold), and a cursory look at my own friends list reveals a range in ranks going down to the 13 million+ mark, it’s fair to say that Black Ops was a pretty big event. Although even I was a little surprised to see exactly how many people turned out locally for the launch – hundreds were queuing when I happened to finish an evening of work and make the snap decision to try and pick up a copy in the middle of the night.
That’s right – I went out at about 00:30 on Tuesday morning to pick up a videogame, thinking there might be a few other obsessives, and I turned the corner of the shopping centre to find a few hundred people.
And I was purely driven by social motives:
I already have more games than I can feasibly finish, including the previous games in the series. And although the fun of a new game is attractive, Black Ops isn’t something which attracted me for that reason (as compared to Kinect, Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport etc).
There were two reasons for paying a premium in terms of financial cost (Wait a while and copies will be cheaper), and time (Sacrificing sleep to make a purchase, and the time since that I’ve already put into the game).
- The loss of my social circle: All of my MW2 friends had stated they’d buy Black Ops within the first 1-2 days. That almost immediate loss of a social group was a prime driver in sending me out to the shops.
- A chance to gain social status: I’m not the best at Call of Duty, although I blame a lot of it on slow internet speeds. During MW2 I suffered a couple of console hardware failures and as a result, missed large amounts of game time. This meant that I was only able to reach the medium level of in-game ranks – lower than quite a number of friends. By purchasing at launch, I had the chance to possibly get a little headstart on some of the group, and potentially I might end up as one of the top players in the group (Sadly that plan hasn’t quite worked, as I’m still not playing the new game particularly well!).
The end result?
- £42 for the game purchase with added special offer of Xbox gamer points.
- 1.5 hour of time spent purchasing the game and immediately coming home to try it instead of sleeping.
- 10+ hours of time spent playing the game since I first brought it home.
And in case you’re tempted to think about this as the example of a particularly unusual and obsessive gamer, Black Ops has largely been sold on the online multi-player aspect of the game. And the first day figures have just been released:
- UK and US sales in first day: 5.6 million copies, beating 4.7 million for MW2.
- Revenue to publishers Activision in the first two days is estimated at $360 million.