I know that this sort of thing has been going on for a little while now, but I felt it was a good time to bring up the idea of special events in gaming. Several of them have happened recently, and this is actually an idea that I'm very much personally in favor of.
concluded a string of special events in its Live Arcade game
store, allowing users to pick up old games at prices that were best described as almost criminally low. I personally got in on this one myself, buying--for me--an almost disturbing number of games in one place. I picked up old favorites "Bioshock" and "Rayman: Raving Rabbids", and two I'd never seen anywhere else: "El Shaddai" and "Dark Messiah: Might and Magic Elements." Turns out that, for the last two, there was a good reason I hadn't seen them anywhere. The first two, however, were a joy.
More recently, though, came word of the upcoming double experience weekend of "Star Wars: The Old Republic" from Bioware, in advance of its big new expansion. That was what really tipped it over for me.
See, there are a lot of competitors out there in game circles. Lots of different games, each one eager for a slice of that gaming dollar. Let's further bear in mind that those gaming dollars are in increasingly short supply of late. We're having to make decisions about what stays and what goes, and that means a lot of pressure on gaming in general.
This is where game companies can learn the attraction of extra bonuses to gaming. A double experience weekend here, a game sale there, a free week over there...these are the things that add up to an improved experience for the gamer, an experienc that they're likely to keep going with.
I spent a lot of time as a Dish Network
subscriber. One thing I looked forward to among any other were the free preview weekends. Sure, there were always a few extra channels thrown in, and that was fine, but every couple months or so, they'd bust open the movie channels. Free HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax...all for a weekend. Sometimes it was even on a holiday weekend, and that made things even better. But that's the kind of thing that can easily be applied to games.
Special bonuses, special discounts, special events. It doesn't have to be done often, and it doesn't have to be a big deal. But it does have to be often enough to keep an experience in front of mind for the user base. That in turn improves the likelihood that they'll stick around, and makes it a smart idea to offer these events, especially in a tough economy.