Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marketing Gap

I ran across this in a Wal-Mart the other day, and it made me shake my head. A quick bit of research later (ie - two minutes of Google searching) and I'm even more baffled.

I'm standing there, browsing the DS games. There is little order behind the glass; a haphazard attempt at alphabetization at best. My eyes skim over title after uninteresting title. Past Harvest Moon DS, which I take note of because I think Morgan might like it. Then on, to the end of the row and back across the next. Then I spot Harvest Moon again. Only "Cute". Harvest Moon DS Cute.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that marketing a game for a wider audience is fine. However, this boggles me. I know that, traditionally, the Harvest Moon series has had male protagonists. Since the game centers around making a living and finding a wife, I can see how this might limit the number of women who would want to play. Opening the game to a female protagonist sounds like the perfect solution.

But why two releases? Animal Crossing didn't need to have two releases to firmly land the coveted female game market. So why the *shudder* Cute release? The cases are nearly identical. Both have a variety of cute farm animals. Both have your agriculturally adept lead. One just happens to be a girl, and have the word CUTE, in pink, slapped over the corner of the Logo. Inside, from what I understand, the games are nearly identical too. Was there really too little room on the cartridge to put options for both male and female protagonists? Wait, the cute version also appears to have a few more ways to customize your clothes and house. Boys don't get to accessorize? No Queer Eye for the Game Guy? These options couldn't be added to the standard release?

And, icing on the already too-sweet cake, the games seem to have different prices. My Wal-Mart (Canadian) had the cute version of the game priced $10 lower than the standard version. Gamestop.com (US) has the cute version $10 more.

Sometimes I wish we could stop spending so much time marketing games to squeeze every last dollar out of the "new gaming markets".

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