Qyzen Fess can STICK IT!!!

I’m a big fan of using gameplay data to trigger personalized marketing campaigns.  Since woefully few games do this, I’m usually a fan with little to cheer about.  Most games have the data, they send out lots of emails, but they hardly ever marry the two.  This week, however, I got something in my inbox to cheer about. 

Like many Star Wars fans, I jumped into SWTOR when it launched.  And like many gamers, I got tired of waiting for the cinematic to load for every NPC interaction.  So I stopped playing a couple of weeks ago  (aka the gameplay “trigger”).  So what did EA/Bioware do?  They sent me a nice email asking me to come back.  Smart marketing!  I opened the email because the title was personalized to my gameplay, “Qyzen Fess misses the adventure.”  Smart marketing!  Qyzen, you see, is my sidekick in SWTOR.  Every character class has a specific sidekick to help you level up.  My character was a long-range DPS caster, so having a tank like Qyzen on my team was a big help.

So here I am getting a trigger-based, personalized email.  As a fan of game marketing, I’m doing the wave!  And I cheer EA/Bioware for helping pioneer what good game marketing should be.

But here’s the rub.  As a fan of games, I hated that email and am now doubly determined to NEVER go back to the game.  Why?  I HATED Qyzen Fess.  He’s a main reason I ditched the game.   First, he’s ugly, Sleestak ugly.  Second, he speaks like a Sleestak, which got annoying quick in a game where everything is a voiceover.  Third, what are the Sleestak doing in the Star Wars universe anyway?  Fourth,  I didn’t get to pick my sidekick and I sure wouldn’t have picked Qyzen.  In a game with a zillion interchange-able characters, not being able to tune your sidekick Toon seems like a crazy limitation.  Fifth, with the camera mechanics in SWTOR, I saw more of Qyzen than I ever did of the character I actually DID get to pick and customize.  Sixth, since the early game is class-based, everyone has a Qyzen at their side.  I guess the Kaminoans got their start cloning NPCs!  Seventh, ok, you get the point.

But let’s return to marketing.  The retention mail was personalized, but not enough.  Since they never asked me what I thought of Qyzen Fess, they had no idea he would be the exactly wrong spokesman for the retention pitch.  They could have fixed that by letting me customize my sidekick.  Or, they simply could have asked me what I thought of Qyzen Fess at some point in the game before picking him as their spokeslizard.  That’s the real opportunity here.  Now that we have the capability to trigger and personalize marketing messages, we need to be more intentional about the data we collect and how we use it so that we KNOW it will be effective when used in marketing.   

So we’re heading in the right direction, but still live in a galaxy Far, Far Away from where we should be.