Australia in the global scale of gaming

“sorry, I don’t have any more time to deal with Aus right now….” – a recent quote.

It was out of blue and quite perplexing in the context.  The person, although experienced, was in an understaffed gaming company that (like what people say to me when they meet my wife) is punching above its weight.

Now Ill preface this by saying I bear this person no personal ill will.  I have copped a hell of a lot worse in my years.  But it got me thinking….

This person clearly has good reasons for the quote – very busy.  We had been dealing for a couple of months and it all became a bit too difficult. Mind you I was doing everything possible to try and increase their global business.  In the end I was an Australian nuisance

For me it was a “wonderful” reminder of where we are seen in the corporate world of gaming.

I was lucky enough to work in a global marketing role for the now defunct THQ in LA on one of their massive titles – WWE.

It was not too long ago, PC was the minority and was only programmed for in console transitions – although it was enormously profitable.

So I had done enough of a job in the Australian office to get recruited over to LA and be a bit of a pioneer.  Development teams were smart enough (or desperate enough) to hire abroad – and that had been going on for a long time.  But for the gaming corporate world it was a bit unheard of.  Why you ask?

OK so most – if not all – gaming companies were based in Cali.  By sheer weight of numbers, if a game worked in the US – you made good money.  So US managers were employed to focus on US.  Everything outside of US was just there- and really didn’t exist.  All too hard.  Europe was an after thought and Australia “is part of Europe isnt it”?  Or it was just too far away with too few numbers to worry about.

So enter  a country boy from Australia who had a clue what was going on with business and how the WWE brand worked – being a fan.

I arrive in the country – obviously the first Aussie – because nobody had a freakin clue how to get the simple stuff sorted – like a social security number (you cant get paid without one and it took 6 weeks).  But I digress – seriously I could write a book on this – basically you cant do anything without a social security number.

My boss that employed me was awesome and very forward thinking.  But there were those few who were very open about it – I was Australian, too laid back and couldn’t understand big business, nor the brand I was working on.  Purely because I was Australian.  HR rules are a bit different there.

What they didn’t realise was that being from a small territory, you had to think creatively.  You had to work hard.  You had to turn every stone.  Because you didn’t have the luxury of large populations to make a quid.

So I seized the opportunity.  Grow the US incrementally, communicate with and empower Europe, APAC to grow massively.  Use campaigns that were were global – not US centric.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that this was successful.  40% over the previous best year.  As the great Geoffrey Boycott would say “Money for old rope”.

Those that were my biggest detractors became my greatest fans.

Because I was Australian.  I looked at all aspects of the brand and the business.  I listened to and included all opinions.  I turned every stone.  Because I was Australian.

As an aside, this opened the flood gates for Australians going over to THQ LA.

The point is – even in the heady days of console region protection (except PS3, then X360 followed suit), regional thinking and small mindedness minimised results.  In today’s gaming world with the death of region encoding and the rise of PC through Steam, Greenman, etc – you can not afford to be region only thinking.

1) As a gaming company, if you have these region focused sort of dinosaurs in your organisation – get rid of them.  The market has become too global, too diverse, too demanding for them.  You wont survive with this thinking.  Ill say it again: You wont survive with this thinking.

2) As a developer, marketer, entrepreneur, whatever from a small territory – never think it is too hard because you are from a small territory.  In fact, it may just be a competitive advantage.

The company that I referenced above will probably get mediocre results, but I really hope get awesome results – as the guys in the studio are awesome and work their asses off!

Best

Jon – Savemi