29 May 2017

Why would you, as a game publisher, need a gamer in your research provider team? Because that’s who’s buying your products: people who care about games on a continuum from light entertainment to absolute obsession. Thing is, sometimes you need an obsessive gamer to understand the gaming industry from the inside out or you risk missing out on what’s really going on with your community of customers.

You don’t need to know everything there is to know about an industry to conduct relevant research. Generally speaking, the comprehensive entry-level knowledge of an industry combined with an expertise in market research should be more than enough to carry any research towards insights that will make sense and allow a business to move forward. We, as research providers, must often become versed in the ins and outs of multiple industries in order to be able to put our marketing expertise to use.

Sometimes though, you need a deeper understanding. Sometimes, as it is the case with the gaming industry, the lingo and the multiple specificities have to be known through and through in order to produce impactful insights. Just imagine a person who hasn’t played anything since the Pacman of their youth.

Now try to picture that person get the conversation going in a focus group about a modern day game. I’m not talking 1-hour-of-fun-Pacman but rather 50 hours of gameplay plus a fictional universe that’s well known in a bunch of sub-reddits (those are geeky blogs FYI). It may be wildly popular in the subculture but it’s never been covered in the news, so how is Mr. I loved to play Pacman supposed to know what it’s about?

It would be rather unrealistic for someone who considers games a trivial hobby to come up with a suggestion such as tying in XP progression and customization options in an RPG in order to improve gamers’ engagement on a long term basis. And that has nothing to do with their usual ease of moderating focus groups or the quality of their analytical thinking, they just don’t know how important a dragon-looking armor with good stats is!

There is no doubt that market research, conducted by long time veterans and curious professionals produce results. I’m not saying you should favor passion over expertise, but if you can get both then why not go for it if. Not only because people who are passionate about your industry are more likely to understand what you’re trying to achieve, but also because it comes easier to them, making the path to get results as interesting as the results themselves.

P.S. My name is Stephane Drapeau, I love videogames and I’m not alone here at Ad hoc who does 😉 Just saying…