First day back

Today (7/23/2012) was my first day back at EA, otherwise known as Electronic Arts. It also marks my first day back in the video game industry, after a nine month fling in the ever alluring music industry. I’m now a Community Manager for Origin, EA’s one year old digital store and PC Game download client. I’m working alongside J “OneLetter” Goldberg, who previously worked for Volition as the Community Manager for games like Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row: The Third.

Being back in video games, and being back at EA (for the 3rd time)…it honestly all feels quite surreal. The closest analogy I can come up with is your first day back at school, after a long summer break.

As I waited for the shuttle down to EA’s main campus (EA Redwood Shores), I ran into several people that I knew and used to work with. As I walked around the campus and waited for my orientation, I saw several people that I knew and they welcomed me back to EA. It was all a reminder that I used to work for EA..I used to work in video games..and I know some people!

And then came the meetings, meetings with a bunch of new people, and the hazy feeling I had for about half of the day. That feeling that you get when you show up for your first class, or when you sit down at your desk after a long vacation from work. I had a hard time shifting gears, changing my mindset from what works for musicians to what could work for an international public company with over 9,000 employees. I had a tough time remembering community management tactics and strategies for the game industry, as well as remembering what I like to do in this space and what I’m really good at. I knew that I was good and that I had fun with all of these things…but I couldn’t put anything into words just yet.

But luckily it started to come back to me. I started to remember how things worked, remembered all of the great people that I’ve worked with and met in video games, and I started to get genuinely excited about what could be done and what we should do at Origin. That’s not to say that I wasn’t excited before, but now it felt a bit different.

Up until that point, it was hard for me to understand what had happened in the past month. It was only just over a week ago that I was working at a 40 person startup in downtown San Francisco, but now I’m working on the 5th floor of one building that is a part of a campus of four buildings with thousands of employees.

When I left video games last year I was a bit jaded about the whole industry. I was frustrated with where it was going, with some of the latest trends, and with where my career was headed. But now I’m excited again, excited to work with J and the other Community Managers and marketing and public relations folks across EA, to work with the and Origin teams, and to help shape the future of EA’s relationship with gamers.

The team wants to make an impact and do something a bit different. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we can do it.

Thanks to everyone that reached out to me over the past few weeks and gave me support and words of encouragement, and recently all of the words of congratulations. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of very supportive and friendly people (friends!) in my life.

I’m still going to do some music stuff for fun and outside of work, and I hope to continue to explore my writing on this blog and perhaps other blogs.

Thanks for coming along for the journey! ūüôā

I’m speaking at PAX East this weekend!

Hey everyone – just a quick update…

Tomorrow morning I'm heading to Boston to attend Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East 2011!  I can't wait to visit Boston again, see all my gamerDNA buddies, and see a PAX East that has been reborn to be bigger and better. I'm also going to be speaking on three different panels, each of them about Community Management and/or Social Media.

Here's the list – I hope you can make it out to one of them (or all!) and say hello!:

How Your Favorite Game Companies Use Facebook
Manticore Theatre

Friday, 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Like this. Like that. Facebook has taken the world by storm and has become a crucial platform for community managers and companies to help keep in touch with and grow their online communities. With the constant evolution of social media and Facebook in particular, you may not know some of the cool things happening on your favorite game studio's Facebook page. Join Collin Moore (Community Management Vet) as he moderates a discussion with community managers from across the game industry (Insomniac Games, Playfish/EA, Harmonix, and Robot Entertainment), about the importance of Facebook to game companies, and how pressing the "LIKE" button is just the beginning.

Panelists include: Collin Moore [Game Industry Vet], Sam Houston [Online Content Manager, Playfish – EA], John Drake [Manager of Communications and Special Projects, Harmonix], James Stevenson [Senior Community Manager, Insomniac Games], Justin Korthof [Community Manager, Robot Entertainment]


The Roads to Becoming a Community Manager (East Coast Version!)
Wyvern Theatre

Saturday, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Based on the great feedback we received after this panel at PAX Prime, we've decided to do it again! East-Coast Style. You hear us on podcasts, see us in videos, read our blogs on websites, retweet us, argue with us on forums, and give us high fives at PAX. But have you ever wondered how we became community managers? From games journalism to forum moderation to public policy and QA, every road is different. Find out the random history of some of your favorite game studio community managers, and hear their advice on what skills and knowledge you’ll need to become one of gaming’s next-generation of community managers.

Panelists include: Alli Thresher [Community Moderator, Harmonix Music Systems, Inc], James Stevenson [Community Manager, Insomniac Games], Arne Meyer [Manager, Community, Naughty Dog], Sam Houston [Online Content Manager, Playfish, EA], Jennifer Kye [Company Blogger, Social Media Editor, Gameloft]


So I Still Have This Website…
Cat Theatre

Sunday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

The community-focused panel from PAX Prime is making its way to the East Coast. You've spent the time and money building your community site, and now you're looking to take it to the next level. Maybe you want to get a job as a professional Community Manager, or maybe you're just looking for tips on how to get publishers and developers to pay more attention to your site. Whether you're just starting out, or have been running a site for years, this panel is the best place to get your questions answered. Together, these community managers have represented some of the biggest franchises, developers, and publishers in the game industry, and most of them started out just like you – running a fan site.

Panelists include: Justin Korthof [Community Manager, Robot Entertainment], James Stephenson [Senior Community Manager, Insomniac Games], Matthew Pruitt [FPS Community Manager, Electronic Arts], Sam Houston [Community Manager, Independent], Jessica Shea [Community Manager, 343 Industries]


Please stop by the panels if you can, I'd love to meet more gamer friends, and if you have any questions about Community/Social Media, I'd love to help you.  This is a total vacation for me and I can't wait to relax, walk around PAX, and try to experience the show as a gamer and not as a guy doing press interviews all day.  I also can't wait to see my gamerDNA buddies, as it has been over a year since I've seen most of them.

Accepting a position at Playfish (EA)!

Hello everyone!

Great news! Today I'm accepting at position to work at Playfish full-time as an Online Content Manager in their San Francisco office.  The Online Content Manager is basically a Community Manager, handling all community efforts for their particular game, and I'll be working on the games coming out of the SF office.  This comes with just about a week left before my prediction of getting a job before December would be void – I sure cut it close!

Playfish is a Facebook game company that was acquired by EA a year ago for ~$300 million,  and the company has created about 20 Facebook games over the years.  They're probably most famous for titles like Restaurant City, Hotel City, Pet Society, and most recently have recently released EA IP titles like Madden and Fifa.  It's very exciting to see the opportunities that Playfish has, to leverage both original IP, as well as EA portfolio IP's when creating new games.

While Playfish is owned by EA, they still manage to preserve a lot of the startup feel and atmosphere, and in general they're going to just trust me and expect me to do great work.  There won't be a lot of hand holding, just the expectation that I'll be creative, collaborate with the team across the board, and do great work.  This is what I LOVED about gamerDNA, and I can't wait to do it in a company that still has the backing of a company like Playfish/EA.  It's a great opportunity for me to learn more about community in the social gaming atmosphere, as well as a great opportunity to learn more about building communities at a large scale via social media and traditional community efforts.  Not to mention the Facebook casual gaming demographic is pretty new for me, so there will definitely be a bit of learning curve that I will have to adjust to.

From the first call I had with Playfish, things felt right.  All my conversations with the SF Playfish people were great, with very intelligent and easy to talk to people.  You can tell everyone is very talented and passionate about doing great work, but at the same time they want to have a good time doing it.  I've even been contacted by folks on the team already, urging me to accept and congratulating me, saying how excited everyone is to have me on board.  It feels great to be working at a place where people want me to be there and are excited about working together.

I should be starting next week, and I'll be working from the Playfish office in downtown San Francisco.  I'll also get to work at the EA Redwood Shores office occasionally, which will be great because the campus is great and I've got a lot of friends that still work at EARS.

This is just a quick post that I wanted to throw up since I literally just accepted on the phone.  In the future I'll be sure to post some more detailed blog posts ūüôā

Update: Just spent two months with EA

Hi everyone! It's been a couple months since the last update..and as always, a lot has happened.

After I lost my job at Perfect World, I started receiving calls and emails almost immediately from people, interested in talking to me and trying to line me up with opportunities that were out there.  Through sheer luck, right timing, and knowing the right guy…I was called by EA, interviewed with them on Friday of the week that I lost my job..then started at EA the following Wednesday.

For the past two months I was a contract Community Management Specialist, and I worked on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – An upcoming action RPG being made by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios.  I worked with EA to create our social network accounts for the game, create all the assets for those social networks, as well as create assets and fill out data for Xbox Live/, and PSN.  That was just the first two weeks, because after that we had to officially announce the Amalur IP to the world at San Diego Comic Con via a panel starring Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore, and Ken Rolston.  Luckily I was able to convince the team that there was value to having me be at Comic Con to live-tweet/facebook the panel, so I got to go to Comic Con for a day and spend time with the four visionaries by 38 Studios.  It was pretty awesome!

After that, I worked on various Community plans for Reckoning, and transitioned on to doing more asset creation and data filing for the upcoming FPS "Bulletstorm", from Epic Games and People Can Fly.  All the new PSN icons, Xbox Live icons, etc for both Reckoning and Bulletstorm were made by me – so check em' out!

Besides all that, I got to work with the EA Partners video editor to create some community videos for Reckoning, one of which I'm really excited about since I selected the footage for it and the video came out pretty awesome.  I can't wait for it to release!

Unfortunately yesterday, August 31st, was my last day at EA.  The contract was only two months, and unfortunately there wasn't enough work for me to do to have me sign-on for another contract.  Everyone at EA was awesome to work with, EA Redwood Shores is an amazing campus, and I'm so glad I got to work there for the time that I did.  Working at EA was such a good experience and I'm glad I got insight into what it's like to work at a game company like EA, with a great team of supportive people.

Now I'm getting ready to go to PAX, speak on two panels, and generally have a great time.  I'm really excited to see my friends and have a relaxing weekend in Seattle.  I've got a lot of people to see, luckily some of them potentially job related, and a lot of business cards to hand out.

I'll be following up this blog post with some details about some contract gigs I'm going to be working on while looking for a full-time gig, as well as all my PAX Prime 2010 details and where you can find me.

Summary of this blog post:  EA was awesome, and I'm really glad I got to work there and wish it was longer.  Hopefully there's a next time!

Haven’t we been here before?

Looks like I'm back on the job hunt again!  Yesterday I was let go from Perfect World.

It's a long story, but basically I wasn't a great fit for the company and they weren't a great fit for me.  We saw things quite differently in terms of social media, branding, and other areas..and (in my opinion) that lead to me no longer being at the company.

All in all, it's for the better, and I'm thankful for at least a few things.  I now live in San Francisco, which I love more and more every day, and Perfect World gave me the chance to do things that I hadn't done before.

In my next job I'm hoping to be more community management focused, while still utilizing social media to grow the fan base.  I want to build brand loyality for the game and the company/studio that I'm working for.  I want to do this usual the many social media mediums to give people access to the studio in new and exciting ways.

To echo my post last time I was in this position…I'm so thankful for my time at gamerDNA.  It showed me how a company should work and how people can work together, respect each other's opinions and expertise, and work towards a common goal.  The things I learned about web development, working at a company, branding, social media, and the game industry are invaluable.

Now I just know a bit better what I want in my next gig and some more questions I should ask next time I'm in an interview.

If you know of anything or would like to talk to me about a Community/Social Media position in the game industry, you can contact me on LinkedIn at and via email at Sam at QforQ DotCom.

I'm hoping to stay in the SF Bay Area, but if something is exciting and the opportunity is great, I'm open to moving.

Thanks for your support everyone!

Just got back from E3 2010

Hello everyone!  It has been way too long since I blogged (as usual), but I thought I should write an entry since I just got back from E3..and since it's been over 6 months since my last entry.  Lots of things have changed since then.  I've moved to San Francisco, started the job at Perfect World Entertainment, went to PAX East and E3 2010, and even cut my hair (which I don't do enough!).

To pick up where I left off in my last blog post: Yes, I've started the job at Perfect World Entertainment as the "Senior Social Media Marketing Coordinator".  The transition from a small, very-flat (organizationally speaking) startup with little funding, to a huge Chinese MMO company with 80 employees (and 2k in China!) has been..pretty tough at times.  I'm not used to having multiple levels of people working on things, big departments of people – most of which I don't even know their names,  and in general the work environment/company is way different than GamerDNA.  

That's not to say things are some cases it's good, like having access to large budgets to do things like Facebook Games or Facebook Ads, where at a startup with a small amount of funding, you don't really get that kind of opportunity.  Working at a huge company like this definitely has its drawbacks, and I recognize that GamerDNA totally had me spoiled, but I've been given a lot of new challenges and tasks at Perfect World, and I'm going to come out of it with a ton of new experience.  I'm much more marketing/customer acquisition focused than I've ever been, which has been a challenge at times, but it's exciting to see how you can directly contribute to the bottomline with various initiatives.

Right now I'm working on a lot of different Facebook projects, one of which just launched – our Facebook Connect Project which rewards current players with in-game items if they promote our games to their Facebook Wall, similar to the way Facebook Games promote themselves.  You can check it out here:  We're also dabbling in Facebook Advertising, and I'm working on pushing forward a handful of other Facebook projects that are early on right now.  After we lay a great foundation on Facebook with multiple initiatives, I'd like to move into Twitter and other social networks.  Twitter's Ad platform has me pretty excited, and I hope to check it out later this year.

Being on a marketing team of 3 people (PR Manager, Marketing Coordinator, and myself), and being a guy that has no problem talking to press/the public, has given me the opportunity to represent the company at various events.  I went to PAX East (Boston) in March, and I just got back from E3 this week.  At E3 I did interviews with a lot of press that we couldn't schedule in for one of our product managers, and I talked all about Forsaken World, an upcoming high-quality Free to Play MMO that we have coming out this Winter.  It was great to do game demos and walkthroughs for press, something that I've seen so many times as a consumer, except this time it was me doing them!  It was great experience and I recognized how much fun I have talking to press about games.  Hopefully I can continue to do this at Perfect World and in the future.

Regarding my move to San Francisco:  It's freaking awesome.  I've found a great house full of awesome roommates (and now friends), found a great group of game industry friends that I hang out with every weekend and even during the week, I love my neighborhood, and I love this city.  I hope to live here for a long time, as the area is absolutely fantastic for the tech/game industries, and I love the chill vibe of everyone.   No matter your lifestyle or your interests, it's cool here.  I really love the acceptance of people's differences here..something refreshing coming after growing up in a very conservative town in Ohio.  My transition to SF couldn't be better.  I'm so thankful for my friends here!

As things move forward this year, I still have a lot left I want to do.  I've got a burning passion to get back into music some how…I'd really like to join a band of some sort.  I need to figure out where my professional passions lie…is it marketing, or community, or a mix of both?  I sometimes really miss interacting directly with consumers.  I also may want to start up a video game podcast of sorts, to give myself another creative outlet outside of work.  And I definitely need to explore more of this city.

This week I'm planning to pick up the new iPhone 4, another notch in my bedpost of complete consumer-whoreism.  Earlier this year I bought an iPad, which has been pretty great for me (I don't need a laptop and it's great for reading the internet and watching video!).

Next month I'm going back to Ohio for a much needed week long vacation.  It's going to be my nephew Adrian's 3rd birthday and I can't wait to see him!

See you guys soon.  Hopefully I'll update more often as ideas come up in the coming weeks.

Celebrating my 22nd Birthday – A look back at 21

Today is my 22nd Birthday, and I'd like to take some time to reflect on this past year, especially since so many things changed in my life during that time.

In terms of a theme for my 21st, I'd have to sum everything up under "Friendship".  This past year I really learned the value of friendship, as I went through some great highs, got through some tough times, and did it all with the help and alongside some great friends.

Coming in close second to Friendship as a theme for my 21st, I think "Twitter" or "Social Media" would be suitable themes.  Social media has made a huge impact on my life, and pretty much everything I did professionally revolved around social media and Twitter in particular.

Everything really kicked off when I made my "Video Game Companies on Twitter", back on January 11th, 2009 (ironically, I start my new job at Perfect World on January 11th 2010!).  What started out as a blog post that I was writing at 1am while watching Edward Scissorhands…quickly grew overnight and later that day was up on most of the major gaming blogs.  It later lead me to create as the permanent home for the list – a site that I hope to update sooner rather than later.

One of my favorite people of 2009/my 21st, is Gene Mauro, my former boss at gamerDNA.  Gene was a great boss because he gave me a lot of opportunities to do new things and put myself out there.  Not only that, but he taught me quite a bit and contributed many great things to gamerDNA.  Gene was the guy who helped me build off this new Twitter "celebrity" from GameIndustryTweet, and he gave me the opportunity to lead several projects that were based on Twitter and social media trends.

In March I went to my first GDC with gamerDNA, and we put on our first (the first?) GDC Tweetup, which had over 200 people in attendance.  It was a great event for us, and we went on to throw a similar event at (my first) E3 2009.  Both events were awesome, and I'm so thankful that I was given the opportunity to attend them.  Hopefully I get to go to these events and others this year!

At E3 we also launched, a site that tracks all of the video game mentions on Twitter.  This was a project that I co-lead from the beginning, from concept, through development, and then represented at E3 in interviews (both video and written form!) with gaming blogs and video companies.

Fast forward and later that summer I was promoted to Online Marketing Manager, took over PR for gamerDNA's Relaunch on September 2nd, and in late October – ended my journey with gamerDNA.

From left to right, Trapper Markelz (VP Product), Collin Waid (Interface Engineer), Steve Sopp (Data Architect), Antares Meketa (Engineer), Jon Radoff (CEO), Sam Houston (ME!! Online Marketing Manager), Russell Miner (Engineer), Sean Duhame (Creative Director).

GamerDNA made a huge impact on my career and my life, and gave me the opportunity to made a lot of great friends.   All the guys pictured above (and even the folks not pictured!) were fantastic people, and I'm happy to call them my friends.  Outside of the people I worked with directly, I also made many friends from all across the country that I owe a lot of gratitude to.  From letting me crash on their couch while I interviewed for my next job, to giving me advice, for being great friends on Twitter…I've met a ton of awesome people this past year and I'm seriously grateful for it!

Right now I'm just wrapping up my last few days in Ohio with my family, right before I fly out to San Francisco to find a new apartment and start my new job at Perfect World Entertainment.  In 2009 I started out the year as a Community Manager, went on to become an Online Marketing Manager, and I'm starting 2010 as Senior Social Media Marketing Manager for an online video game company.  I'm pretty happy about that! ūüôā

I owe huge thanks to my family and friends, as everyone has been more than nice to me this past year.  It has been truly amazing, and I can't wait to see what a new city, a new job, a new company and team, and a new year will bring for me.  Thanks everyone!

This year I hope to find a great place to live, make some awesome friends in my new home of San Francisco, and knock the socks off of everyone at Perfect World and kick some ass in the game industry.  2010 and 22 should be great years for me!


Sam "QforQ" Houston

Moving to San Francisco and working at Perfect World Entertainment

I've got a job!

Senior Social Media Marketing Coordinator – That's my new position at Perfect World Entertainment, a video game developer and publisher in Redwood Shores (South Bay of San Francisco, CA).

After about two months on the job hunt and several interviews and meetings with various companies, I was able to find a great opportunity with an exciting company – Perfect World Entertainment.  I will be joining the Marketing and PR team in just a couple weeks, working alongside ambitious and energetic folks that are trying to take over the Free to Play MMO space in the US.

Perfect World is probably most commonly known as the developer publisher of Perfect World International, their main MMO in the states which gamers can play for free, but can also buy items in-game through their cash mall.  You've also probably seen the Perfect World cash cards at your local 7-11 or GameStop.

Perfect World also has two other games out now, Jade Dynasty and Ether Saga Online.  They've got a number of new games coming out next year, with Kung FOO! coming out very soon.  What most people probably don't know, though, is that Perfect World published the popular PC RPG "Torchlight", which is a game that released this fall and was developed by former Diablo/Blizzard devs at Runic Games in Seattle.

To sum things up – Perfect World is a very ambitious company that is very successful in China and they want to make a big impact in the US.  Their current games are doing pretty well (1 million active players across their three F2P MMOs right now, I read in an article most recently), and they've got quite a few coming out in the new year and beyond.  They're doing some exciting publishing deals (Torchlight for example), and I'm very excited join Perfect World as they transition into a new phase of growth and expansion.

As I mentioned in my last post, the prospect of focusing 100% of my energy on using social media to build game communities and market games is *very* exciting to me..and it is ultimately what made this position a real winner for me.  I'll be joining a great team with some big goals and a totally open canvas in terms of what we can do.

Perfect World has community managers for their games, and I'm very excited to work with them to help build stronger and bigger communities around their games. With three games out now (and more coming next year), we should have a wealth of content to share and talk about with our community.  I'm going to try to really push things forward in the F2P MMO space, which based on some of my research doesn't seem to get a lot of love in the community department.  I'm very excited to get on Twitter, Facebook, build our blog presence, and hopefully get into other mediums/platforms so that we can interact with our community in the places that they are online.

Ironically, the week that I accepted the position, Perfect World relaunched their web portal and launched a new company blog.  I encourage you to check out the site – Nice work guys!

This job successfully rolls up my passion for community, social media and marketing into one role – and I'm very excited.  I've got big goals for myself in the social media/game space, and I think this company and this team will help me attain those goals.  I'm looking forward to starting in just a couple of weeks!

The whole F2P MMO space is new to me, and working directly for a game developer/publisher…but I'm looking forward to learning what works, what doesn't, and taking the journey along the way.  If anyone has any suggestions/insights on F2P MMO community, please feel free to contact me!

On a different  note – I now need to find a place in SF in a very short period of time. If anyone needs a roommate, or knows someone that does, *please* contact me ASAP.  I need everyone's help, since I need to move cross country *very* soon.  Thanks for any help you can provide!

In summary…I'm scared, excited, and very anxious to start a new chapter of my life in San Francisco at an awesome game company and in a dream role of a job.  It was a great Christmas/Birthday present, and I want to thank everyone for all the encouragement, support, and help that got me here!


Sam "QforQ" Houston

The possible changes and impact of the EA layoffs & Playfish Acquisition

Yesterday our industry saw some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in one day, with EA announcing the $400 million acquisition of social gaming startup Playfish, and the 1,500+ person downsizing and studio closures at EA. I totally agree with Shacknews’ Garnett Lee when he wrote in a column yesterday, “As the dust settles this marks one of the most dramatic signs of the times for the videogame industry“.¬† What I would like to do is share some of my thoughts on what this might mean for the game industry and some possible outcomes that I see from this huge change.¬† Some of this may dip more into “What is the new game industry”, rather than just what will happen in the aftermath of the changes at EA.

More social game company investment and development

A $400 million exit is a pretty good indicator that the social game market is huge, and that doesn’t even take into account the hundreds of millions of dollars a year companies like Zynga are making (Zynga is a competitor to Playfish, with games like Farmville and Mafia Wars in their portfolio).¬† These companies are crushing it, with what I’m guessing is huge profit margins.¬† These games aren’t particularly complicated..and in most cases aren’t even original.¬† They’ve got to be cheap to make and maintain, and the money that is made on microtransactions and offers is huge.¬† This market was already expanding quite rapidly, but I’m betting this encourages more game developers (that are now unemployed?) to create new businesses, and it encourages more Venture Capitalists to invest a few million in a social gaming startup.

More “social” elements and micro-transaction models in EA portfolio games

This isn’t anything particularly new, considering EA has been dabbling with this stuff for awhile now.¬† Most recently we saw them launch Battlefield Heroes, a free-to-play, micro-transaction funded game based on the popular Battlefield franchise.¬† I’m not sure how well it has done since launch, but I’m interested in seeing how many more games we’ll be seeing from EA that are micro-transaction based.

This should also manifest itself in the form of more paid DLC for released games, which EA has said “extend the life and profitability of our disc-based games“.¬† Last week Dragon Age: Origins released and had DLC immediately available, and EA reports that they have “seen strong early performance”.

More engaging social game experiences

In my opinion..most Facebook games are pretty lame.¬† I don’t feel particularly invested or engaged with the games, with most of the motivation for playing coming from the competition with friends to be a higher level Mobster/Farmer/whatever.¬† Ultimately everyone is the same, with your character and farm looking exactly the same as all the other players.¬† I never feel invested in my characters or the games themselves, which I think is a lost opportunity.

I personally would like to see more engaging and interesting experiences – something more along the lines of Quake Wars or even Battlefield Heroes, but in the browser and as a Facebook game.¬† I’ve never played a Facebook game that blew my socks off, and I’d like to see that changed.

Enthusiast Press will start covering the social game space

I think it has been interesting to note the lack of coverage of the social game market by the enthusiast press (Joystiq, 1up, Shacknews, Kotaku, Destructoid, etc).¬† I understand why they do it, though, since they’re writing content for their community, and most of their community probably doesn’t find this stuff very interesting.¬† If perhaps the game experiences become more interesting and advanced, the coverage of the space will start to increase.¬† Or maybe if EA continues to dump millions and millions of dollars into the space the enthusiast press (and hardcore gaming community) will have to take notice.

It’s probably worth noting that EA owns, a company that makes free internet games and casual retail games, and the enthusiast press don’t really cover that side of EA’s business…so perhaps this one won’t come true ūüėČ

Opportunities for game developers and publishers

I’m wondering what Activision thinks about all of this…Do they see a big opportunity to take market share in the vacuum that may form from all of the EA titles being canceled, or will Activision follow suit and join the social gaming market?

Since so many developers are now out of work, now is a great time for new businesses to be created.¬† Hopefully we will see all these creative and talented folks start new game companies that will push the boundaries and do interesting things.¬† The traditional big publisher model of funding isn’t the only way to go, with alternative funding models like Venture Capital investment being real opportunities for developers.¬† Riot Games recently spoke to Gamasutra about how they have funded League of Legends without taking money from publishers and sacrificing IP ownership.

These new indie studios could partner up with hungry publishers like Warner Bros. Interative Entertainment, who seems to be pretty eager these days to try new things.¬† They’ve been acquiring quite a few studios over the past year, and most recently published 5th Cell’s Nintendo DS game Scribblenauts.¬† With 194,000 unit sold in the first month, I’d guess that 5th Cell is pretty damn happy with that arrangement.

What are your thoughts on the impact of the EA changes?  Where do you think the game industry is going next year, and beyond?  Am I full of shit?

Interested in your thoughts!


Social Media and Game Industry Web Roundup 11/1/09

Since I’ve got a lot more free-time now, I’ve set several goals for myself that I can now attain. One of those is catching up on a lot of reading, online and offline, since for the past few months I basically had to unplug a bit from all the game news, community management articles, books, etc. ¬†It started this summer when I took over all the PR for gamerDNA’s relaunch, and then carried on through to the last couple months when things were still busy and slightly crazier. ¬†They used to call me “The Internet” at work because I knew so much about current gaming and tech news…and I don’t feel so internet-y any more. ¬†So anyways…I’m trying to fix that now, and I thought I’d create a blog post every once in awhile that shares some cool stuff I’ve come across in my internet travels.

BioWare Reveals Dragon Age’s “Massively Single-Player” Details – Stephen Totilo – Kotaku

Stephen Totilo has a really interesting article that goes into the details of the new BioWare Social Network that just launched recently. ¬†On the surface the social network doesn’t look a whole lot different than most other social networks powered by¬†Social Engine software. ¬†The customization is in the rich features, though, and it sounds like BioWare has spent a lot of money tying the game to this social network. ¬†The features described in this article get my really excited about this game and definitely make me want to check it out…at least for professional research purposes ¬†ūüėČ

The Future of the Social Web – Brian Solis – PR 2.0

Forrester Research published a report that describes what they believe will be the future of the social web.  I happen to agree with a lot of it, and it actually describes a lot of what we built at gamerDNA.  Relevance and reacting to what we knew about a member were two huge factors in what we built at gamerDNA.  Definitely worth a read.  Makes me think about how this would affect game community websites specifically (in house sites, like WoW Armory for example), and not just 3rd party internet consumer websites.

5 Ways to Use Twitter’s New List Feature for Marketers ¬†– Influential Marketing Blog

-This past week Twitter launched the List feature, which makes it so anyone can add a Twitter user to their own list, and that list can be shared with other people and even followed by others.  This blog article outlines some ways that people could use blogs and should help you think about some cool ways you could use Twitter Lists at your company.

From Strategy to ROI Model – slide deck from Dawn Lacallade, Community Manager for SolarWinds

As I get ready for job interviews, I’m trying to read up more on some various community manager topics and generally see how people are doing things these days. ¬†I liked this presentation because it was very basic and didn’t skip over much as it explains the process of pitching and creating a Community plan for your organization.

Getting Started 1: Do you know what people are saying about you? -Fresh Networks

Fresh Networks wrote a blog post series/guide to help organizations “Get Started in Social Media”. ¬†It’s all pretty basic, but I liked the list that they put together of free buzz tracking tools. ¬†In the paragraph prior to the list, Fresh Networks says, “The best results come from using paid-for services..”. ¬†I can’t really say this is right or wrong, since I didn’t have experience with paid services at a large scale. ¬†I tried out Radian6 (the service mentioned in the article) at gamerDNA and wasn’t very impressed with it, but I think that probably has more to do with our scale at the time and the amount of conversations on the web. That and the price tag was pretty hefty for a startup like us.

If I remember correctly, it was roughly $5,000+ a year or more for the type of account we would need with Radian6. ¬†It would have been a huge waste of money for gamerDNA, so we decided not to spend that money. ¬†If you’re a larger company and/or have a large amount of mentions (to the point it is truly overwhelming and you need help sifting through it all), I suggest looking into these services. ¬†Radian6 and Techrigy are two services that come to mind, and I know or have met people at both and they’re good people. ¬†Hopefully at my next gig I’ll have the chance to check these services out – They’re doing some interesting stuff, if you’ve got the money in your budget.

The best buzz tracking services that would fit into this blog post are: ¬†Google Blog Search, Technorati Search, Google Alerts, Twitter Search. ¬†IceRocket search was basically worthless, bringing up posts that were (relatively) ancient, so it just turned into a waste of time when you checked your searches. ¬†I covered this last year in my blog post “Are Video Game companies active in Social Media?“.

I think I’ll cover this topic in a bit more depth in a blog post later this week. ¬†There are some decent new, free tools and services that can help you monitor your brand and interact with your community. ¬†They can get you a long way, with no money spent at all (besides time).

Staying Power: Rethinking Feedback to Keep Players in the Game – Gamasutra

Microsoft Game Studios did some user research on gamers completing games and offers some solutions/insight into how game designers could help people complete their games.  This is a pretty in-depth article chock full of data..even with references at the end!  Worth checking out for sure.

That wraps it up for this blog post. ¬†If you have any thoughts on the above articles, I’m interested in hearing them!


Sam “QforQ” Houston