Reply To: Question About Marketing


What was Sierra’s marketing and advertising like back in their glory days? How did it compare to the other game companies? What about in comparison to the other game industries (like console)? Did you face serious challenges in that area — even competing against console companies — or was it an untapped market so you didn’t have to worry about advertising?

I was just reading about Sega, my favorite video game console company, and it seems to me that — aside from having to beat a resident giant (Nintendo in Sega’s case) — Sierra and Sega are just about the same. New technology, great game, perfect product. What separated Sierra from Sega, and what led to both their downfalls and the downfall of the PC adventure game industry, is advertising. I remember Sega breaking rules with their constantly changing TV commercials, shown at their demo’s high-viewing time and TV channel (MTV). I remember their slogans and their mascots, magazine and newspaper ads, banners on buses and billboards…

I don’t remember Sierra having any of that. I don’t even recall any advertisements outside of game stores. In fact, I first heard of Sierra from my father, a veteran mainframe programmer/operator/engineer/tech who gobbled up PCs and all PC software as soon as they came out.

(Except for InterAction. I fondly remember those issues, and I always looked forward to more issues that, sadly, never came. Still, you would only know about the magazine if you bought the game. It wasn’t advertised outside of that, at least, not that I could tell.)

The secret of Sega’s success was their Sega of America CEO, who was the former advertising director for Matel. (Yes, the man responsible for Barbie and Ken. I found myself reviling and yet perversely revering his accomplishments in a Darth Vader “Luke I am your father!” kind of way.) How heavily did you focus on marketing and advertising? In hindsight, would you have done it differently? As you look at today’s games, do you think the secret of their success relies more on advertising (and force-feeding) than actually finding a viable market?