Brand Insight: ARMA

Posted on July 28, 2009

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Originally I wrote this as a straight game review, but when I re-read it I realized there was a more insightful point lurking there. ARMA is a first-person shooter (FPS) franchise that dates back to the release of Operation: Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis in 2001. Bohemia Interactive created it, and Codemasters published it. Way back in 2001, I picked up a copy of Severance: Blade of Darkness, also published by Codemasters. I loved that game, played it to death, and even based the mythology/cosmology of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign around the pseudo-Zoroastrian mythology of the game. That and my previously-discussed love of shooters got me to pick up a copy of Operation: Flashpoint. I never finished the first mission because it was just too hard.

Operation: Flashpoint was so realistic that government agencies use a product based on it to train field agents and soldiers. When Armed Assault (European title, Combat Operations is the US title) became available, it never occurred to me that BI had spent 8 years establishing a brand, rather than listening to whiners like me complain that there games were too hard. I bought Combat Operations, it’s just as hard, and I learned a lesson. If you’re looking for a realistic, modern simulation of infantry combat try Combat Operations.

I bought the game because there is a universal human tendency to want to think that everyone else is just like us. I thought that reviews from critics and users would have influenced BI to change their already successful brand, because surely everyone else’s opinion was just like mine. This universal tendency is one reason why people bring the wrong expectations to your product.

Promise + Experience = Relationship. Most managers think marketing controls the promise and experience is in the minds of the consumers, but I suggest this is completely backwards. No matter what we do as marketers, the promises we make are filtered by our consumers’ backgrounds and experiences. We can, however, exert a lot of influence over their experience. That, dear readers, is the real value of Apple Stores to Apple: Greater control of consumers’ interaction with the Apple brand. I’d bet that’s the reasoning behind Microsoft opening its own stores, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll got back to playing a Tom Clancy game.

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Posted in: Army, Gaming, Military