Posts Tagged ‘Launch’

Cost-cutting consoles

September 13, 2013 2 comments

Zeitgeist finally got around to seeing “Elysium” last night. Typical of the current climate in film distribution, it was disappearing from all of Zeitgeist’s local screens in central London, after a mere 3-4 weeks of release. The above trailer screened before the film. Videogames have been trying to sell themselves as films for years, since the likes of “Metal Gear” and “Max Payne”. (The picture becomes even more blurred as more videogames attempt to make the transition to feature franchises). This tactic was nothing new, moreover it was somewhat underwhelming. The graphics looked pixellated, the movement clunky, and any sense of verisimilitude was lacking. It is difficult to put a finger on what exactly the problem was, but patching polygons together is not the same as making all the parts interact with one another. It was surprising, given that the game is to be made available on the as-yet unreleased Playstation 4, a console which, going from the launch event months ago, is capable of some stunning graphic simulation. The market has gone for longer than usual without a new stream of console launches, so it seemed puzzling that not all that much seems to have changed.

It was somewhat reassuring then to read today The Economist’s Technology Quarterly supplement, which featured as its lead article an overview of the videogames industry, and how high costs have produced diminishing technical returns in the latest bout of releases from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The article states the newest consoles look “surprisingly underpowered”:

“At previous console launches, executives have boasted about their boxes’ whizzy technological innards. Sony in particular was a dab hand at this sort of thing, coming up with names like “Emotion Engine” and “Reality Synthesiser” for the chips that powered its previous consoles. But this time neither Microsoft nor Sony seems very keen to talk up the technical prowess of their new boxes… new consoles will be merely catching up with the current state of the art, rather than defining it. Both consoles… are, for all intents and purposes, ordinary PCs in fancy boxes.”

The market hasn’t found a way to substantially raise prices on games, while at the same time the cost of developing them has “ballooned”. Moreover, due to rising costs of customised chips and increasing competition from those with lower fixed costs (think videogame mobile app developers, and Ouya), Sony and Microsoft are now using standardised chips in their consoles.  The article was also keen to note that graphics are no longer the be-all-and-end-all of a console’s power and reputation (as it was in the days of 32 and 64-bit machines). Indeed gaming itself is argubaly no longer front and centre of console strategy, as manufacturers seek to diversify into other areas of entertainment. Just in time as well, as a recent report from Accenture predicts the end of single-use devices.

UPDATE (15/9/13): The New York Times points out that often the best games take a while to appear on new consoles, with Nintendo devices tending to be the exception.

IKEA show that shoppers and retailers can be friends

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Working with clients who haven’t developed their brands and don’t really know what they stand for is a big frustration. They are condemned to sticking to a repetitive, predetermined timetable of activities that deliver temporary sales peaks but do little to change long term consumer behaviour and drive brand love.

Consequently, Zeitgeist loves brands that are so sure of themselves and their place in the lives of consumers that they can respond confidently to unique or unexpected opportunities that come their way.

Increasing IKEA are showing themselves to be such a brand.

Turning a nightmare into an opportunity

It is said that alongside death and divorce, moving house is one of the most stressful experiences we can face. Indeed one might wonder whether the relatively stagnant property market has developed benignly to give us one less thing to worry about.

However, if packing a few rooms worth of possessions can be so traumatic one can only recoil in horror at the thought of having to move an entire furniture superstore.

This daunting task is precisely what recently faced IKEA in Bergen, Norway as they transferred to a larger, more modern property.

Luckily the goodwill they had built up and confidence in their brand allowed them to turn a huge logistical nightmare into a fantastically engaging event.

Making it happen

Identifying that when you move having friends muck in with small tasks can make a big difference, they invited the whole town to turn up and play their part.

A multimedia campaign called for volunteers to come along and complete tasks ranging from planting the first tree to helping the mayor at the opening ceremony.

Great ideas are contagious and soon people started volunteering for tasks that weren’t even on the list.

Top selling Norwegian rapper Lars Vaular offered to perform a live concert and skydivers parachuted in to celebrate the opening.

Looking back, it would have been easy to reject the idea, fearful that it would backfire and no one would turn up. Other brands would certainly have taken that route, preferring to invest in safe, proven activities.

Fortune, it is said, favours the brave.

And so, an activity that could have been as unpleasant as death was turned into a fantastic brand experience. Around 20% of the town turned up to mark the event as it became IKEA‘s most successful store opening ever, breaking all sales records.

Let’s not forget that the whole event was only possible because IKEA were bold enough to try something new. Their confidence stemmed from the knowledge that they had developed their brand and understood their place in consumers lives. There was no risk that the party would fall flat.

Fortune it would seem, also favours the prepared.