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In our private universe August 24, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, Video Games.
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From the “No-that’s-not-right-here-let-me-show-you” Department, Blizzard and Future Publishing have announced a World of Warcraft magazine, hoping to leverage an additional $40 a year out of their 11.5 million person base of players. At a time when I can’t imagine too many other companies entering a paper-based publishing medium, I actually think the move is genius and hits a few really key things, primary among them all is a hark back to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.

Of course in this case the fans number in the millions.

The premise is simple: your biggest fans will go above and beyond to have every ounce of content and information about you they can get their hands on; these people are not the mainstream, but they’re a profitable niche that usually go uncatered for, making do with what everyone else gets most of the time.

The World of Warcraft example above stems nicely from selling access to a service for everyone and then breaking away additional offerings for the hardcore within your audience (as I write this BlizzCon is concluding, in-person church for the faithful but also available as a pay-per-view event online…you couldn’t write this stuff!).

Mark Earls made a similar link to the music industry, referencing this piece in the New York Times and saying:

maybe this marks the end of that really selfish buy-to-own model (“it’s mine, all mine”) as opposed to pay-for-access?

Mark was referencing some interesting visual data showing the decline of physical music sales over the past 30 years (shown below). Personally the games industry leading the way here doesn’t surprise me; it’s a relatively young industry not bound vehemently by outdated models and able to flex with the times. It was the first to take user-generated content mainstream, I imagine it will be the first to do many, many other interesting things. But take note: create something genuinely of value to an audience, treat them right, and reap the rewards. Rinse and repeat.

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Comments»

1. Matt Granfield - August 24, 2009

Ooh I like those graphs… So would @waycooljnr

2. Andrew McMillen - August 24, 2009

Excellent commentary David. I’m way behind on what’s happening in the games industry, so articles like these are very helpful. And thanks to Matt for pointing it in the direction of @waycooljnr!

3. Cumulative Advantage and Social Currency at Andrew McMillen - August 24, 2009

[…] A straightforward online exchange: Matt Granfield tweeted a link at @waycooljnr, the Twitter account I run with Nick Crocker for music and marketing links. It was an interesting link worth sharing, so I thanked Matt via Twitter and left acomment on David Gillespie’s blog post. […]

4. David Gillespie - August 27, 2009

Gentlemen, always a pleasure. Thank you for stopping by!

And the games industry is where it is at, it’s worth keeping an eye on business developments there.


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