Make them cry, they will buy!

I have given Apple a break for this weak. I have decided to blog about video games.  More importantly how companies get you to buy and continue playing their video games.

The purpose of video games are to engage the player in an entertaining way (Dickey, 2005). Video games tell a story using a unique technique which involves you, the user, to play the story. How would you advertise and sell a product that does something that unique, that allows the user to play the story? This is what this blog will explore.

My favourite game trailer:

After you have watched these two game trailers have a think about how you feel. Ask yourself the questions ‘Did I like the advert?’, ‘Did I feel involved with the characters?’ and ‘I want to know what happens next to the character?’. The key feature that these trailers elicit, and so do many others, is emotional linking. Coincidently, individuals have a need to seek out emotional stimuli (Raman et al., 1995) Video games meet this emotional need as they do elicit emotional responses from users (Ravaja et al., 2004). Emotions such as joy, pleasure, fear and anger. Ravaja et al., stated that video games are a useful stimuli for ‘sensation seeking’ people. This emotion from video games derives from the involvement users have with the video game. Newman (2012), suggests that the main character in a video game is a selection of equipment utilised and embodied by the player. Newman further states that players have an empathic emotional link with the main character in a video game. Hefner, Klimmt and Vorderer (2007) additionally state that players change their concept of themselves to match that of the main character in the game. Collins (2011) links the mirror neurons to this empathy relationship with video game characters. Mirror neurons are located in the premotor cortex of the brain. These mirror neurons activate when we observe another person’s actions as well as performing the action ourselves (Cattaneo & Rizzolatti, 2009). They are key to how we learn behaviour.

This alteration of self-concept and activation of mirror neurons further strengthens the bond between player and character. This emotional link with the main character is utilised and developed in the advertisement campaign of a new game. 

Hollis (2010) suggests that emotion is key to a person’s survival and is more important in advertisement then companies believe. Lerner et al., (2004) additionally discovered that emotion can have significant influence over consumers buying behaviours. Weinberg and Gottwald (1982) also found that induced emotion can cause impulse buying. Therefore, to get consumers to purchase a video game the companies must elicit emotion in their advertisement.  The advert will establish emotional links with the viewer and the primary character. This established emotional link with the player and character will cause the player to purchase the game.

So as we can see from this blog video game adverts can use emotion to entice the viewers to purchase the game. The use of emotion creates a link between the viewer and the character. Thus, keeping the consumer playing the game and using the product.

Saddest moment ever . . .
R.I.P. Dom


4 thoughts on “Make them cry, they will buy!

  1. I quite agree with the idea that purchasing behavior of consumers has a close relationship with the emotional effects. People have need for emotion (NFE), which makes them show a preference to use emotion in interacting with the world (Raman et al, 1995). Currently, most producers are familiar with the importance of emotion, and they often use it in the advertisements campaign. Once customers are moved or amused by the ads, the possibility for their purchasing will increase a lot. Several days before, I saw an advertisement of P & G, and I have to say it really moves me. Because of this advertisement, my impression on the brand becomes better than before, and I almost pay more attention to its products when I go to supermarkets. So I know how powerful emotion factors are.
    Since you are focusing on video games, I find the factor of suspense also effective in promoting consumers’ purchasing behavior. After I saw these ads, I was really curious about what would happen next. Maybe I will buy these video games later and try them. : )

  2. Your research is really interesting; Hefner, Klimmt and Vorderer (2007) Collins (2011) about we create a relationship with and mirror our characters. we only need to look at games such as ‘The Sims’ where we create an avatar of ourselves (or what we would like to look like) and live life how we desire, full of fun, causing mayhem but without the repercussions. Games are so interesting to study because they’re not just all about entertainment. The allow us to achieve goals and ‘missions’ we wouldn’t normally be able to achieve, live out out our emotions and desires the way we would like to (rather than have to). So, yes! I am even in agreement with your title.

    There are so many other points that can also be considered in future to do with the games industry such as how they are used to educate and develop key skills. As Caroline Bowman mentioned in her class today, they can have has a dark reputation but personally, I think they can help us to have brighter future especially, for school children. Here’s a link to ‘Simulations, Games and Learning’ by By Oblinger (2006) should you ever want to draw upon it in future. Thank You.

  3. This is a great blog. There are some really interesting pieces of research you mentioned. I particularly found the research conducted by Collins (2011), focusing on mirror neurons extremely fascinating. Although i’m not a huge game fan, i completely agree that games nowadays show really strong emotional connections with the characters. I recently brought assassins Creed 3 for my partner, and the main reason why he loves assassins creed and other similar games, like the uncharted series is because they tell and follow a very strong emotional story. Game developers put a lot of emphasis on ’empathy’, they want consumers to put themselves in the characters shoes, to feel what they feel, to do what they do and i feel the use of empathy and emotions is extremely evident in the games you listed above. I find in the gaming industry a lot of the focus has now turned towards the ‘story’ rather than the conventional platformer. If you get the story right and connect with the consumer on a emotional level then you’ve potentially got them hooked. This is because consumers are inherently driven by emotions. Emotions influence a huge array of things from purchase behaviour to feelings toward products/ brands, Game developers have cleverly tapped into how important emotions are to us, and have harnessed this to reel in the consumers. If consumers feel positive emotions towards a brand/ service or product then they are likely to continue to purchase it.

  4. I really enjoyed this blog, and I think undercoverconsumer hits the nail squarely on the head too.

    I personally really engage with emotion in video games. For me, the greatest video game experiences are the best stories with the best characters.

    I think if a video game company wants to sell lots and lots of games in the long run, then having a long running story that emotionally enagages the audience is the best strategy.

    Take my relationship with the resident evil series of games for example.

    I bought and played resident evil 1, 2, 3 for the sony playstation. Then I bought Code Veronica on the PS2. Then they remade all the originals for the gamecube so I bought one just to play them all over again. And I’ve played everyone since, and I will most likely continue to play them until they stop releasing them (or I die), despite the fact that most gamers (and reviewers) are convinced that the series has been on a downward slope for a while.

    Contrast this with the fate of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). Believe it or not, between 1995 and 1999, international superstar soccer was the ONLY football game any self respecting football fan would buy. The Fifa series was widely accepted to be significantly inferior in comparison. I had various iterations of that series on the Super Nintendo, N64 and the Playstation. It then changed its name to Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) and continued dominating on the PS2, Xbox, PS3 and Xbox 360.

    At some point though, something changed.

    Some say that Fifa simply caught up, others say that PES got worse. Some even claim that fifa copied PES. Whatever happened, somehow Fifa ended up dominating, to the point where Fifa 2012 outsold PES 2012 by a ratio of 25:1. The last copy I bought was PES 2009.

    The difference is in the stories and the emotional journey the games take you on. Even if Konami releases a bad version of Resident Evil, I’ll still play through it and buy the next one, because I love the story. The same went for the Mass Effect series. I was pretty disappointed that they only decided to make 3 games and end the series – I would have probably played that series forever.

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