Before I get too deep into this article, I need to make clear that this is in no way a rant against Twitter.
In fact, I use and enjoy both sending and reading tweets every day of the week. Twitter is a great way to keep in touch daily with friends and family, and even celebrities whom you may be interested in. And when it comes to the world of gaming it is just as handy, as most developers and games companies have a Twitter feed now. This serves not only to keep us gamers up to date on new releases but also post-game release news keeping fans of their titles up to date concerning updates, patches and any downloadable content coming for games. In general, an excellent way for gamers to keep in contact with fellow gamers and also the people making the games that they play.
So, I hear you ask, where is this piece going?. Well, it’s all about a certain method of advertising which I have seen many companies over my time on Twitter using and when I say that, I do not just mean games companies although that is what I am focusing on here. It’s not that I mind games developers using this side of the social network application to advertise. If Naughty Dog wish to use their Twitter account to shout about Uncharted 3 then far be it from me to complain, and the same can be said for any group of game developers. The simple fact is that if someone does not enjoy reading tweets such as those then the ability to unfollow or even block the sender of those tweets is only a mouse click or two away. That kind of advertising I can handle and in some cases even welcome.
The best way I can describe the type of advertising I disagree with gaming companies using is to detail what brought me to writing this in the first place. I was having a completely unrelated conversation with a friend back and forth on Twitter and at one point I mentioned Call Of Duty. At first I did not realise that this is what triggered said event until later, when I looked more into it. Anyhow, moments after mentioning said game I received three mentions on Twitter from three separate “attractive women” and I say that because I do not believe these women were real. Of course they were pictures of real women, but I have serious doubts they were the ones behind the tweets for reasons which will become clear in a moment. All three Tweets, although worded slightly differently, contained the same message and was basically an advertisement for Electronic Arts’ upcoming first person shooter Battlefield 3 and offered the chance at a beta key upon following the included link. The link led to an official EA page for the game, therefore I assume that either Dice, the developers or EA, who are releasing the game, are behind this in some way.
Both EA and the game itself have their own Twitter accounts which could be used for this and would more than likely have reached far more people who would be interested in the game. So out of curiosity I delved a little deeper, checking out people who had also been mentioned by the same three accounts and noticed one thing. Moments before receiving said mentions, each person had mentioned Call Of Duty telling me that it was likely that not only were these people not who they made out to be, but they were not even people, more of a bot searching for a set of keywords before sending the messages out. A few hours later all three Twitter accounts had been closed down telling me that the people behind it saw some sense or more likely they were closed down by Twitter, proving that this practice is frowned upon. It may sound like I am picking on Electronic Arts and/or DICE games. But rest assured they are not the only ones playing this little game and it is not only games developers getting in on this. Over the past few weeks I have experienced the same thing from the Scandinavian furniture giants IKEA after tweeting about getting new glasses of all things.
I am not against companies and games developers using Twitter to advertise and tout their new games. But why not do the smart thing and use your companies account to do so? This way you know you are reaching your core audience, myself included as I do follow both EA and Battlefield on Twitter and Battlefield 3 is a game I am interested in playing and enjoyed the last incarnation. But again I would rather be getting the latest news and offers from these feeds than having it thrown at me by some automated tweet account. I understand that people are always looking for new ways to advertise and I can respect that. But some methods definitely need to be given a little more thought before being implemented. So come on games developers, if you are going to advertise using Twitter, which I have nothing against, at least do so using the sensible most obvious method. Do not pander to the old adage that all gamers are young boys and are going to fall for the make believe attractive young woman on Twitter telling them that they should be playing this game. Please use Twitter responsibly.