Who are third party marketing deals really for?

FIFA 18 appears to be the latest third party game to partner with PlayStation for marketing rights.

With today’s announcement trailer for FIFA 18, it looks as though PlayStation has nabbed yet another third party marketing deal. In the past, Xbox had the marketing for the FIFA franchise, but as Xbox head Phil Spencer repeatedly said gamers focus too much on third party deals, PlayStation quietly picked up what Xbox dropped.

Based off reveal trailers, we have some indication of Sony’s current marketing deals. Including FIFA 18, there’s also Far Cry 5, Call of Duty WWII, Star Wars Battlefront II and Destiny 2. Rumors have also circulated about Sony having marketing rights to Rockstar’s upcoming goliath Red Dead Redemption 2. Comparing that to Xbox’s current marketing deals which, as far as we know, only consists of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War – which is part of a deal to promote third party developers optimizing games for Xbox’s Project Scorpio due out later this year.

Still, as Xbox slowly drops its third party marketing ties to established franchises like FIFA and Call of Duty, one has to ask, “Who are these third party marketing deals really for?” The answer is a mixed bag.

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PlayStation’s Star Wars Battlefront promotional material

The most obvious answer is that the most casual consumers of video games are those wooed by marketing deals. People who own one or two consoles but only play and buy a handful of games per year are probably swayed to a console based of its ties to a game trailer or advertisements. These are the consumers who see an ad on television for a game they’ve never heard of, and they instantly associate the experience with the PlayStation or Xbox logo shown at the beginning or end of the trailer. These marketing deals probably don’t convince someone with one console to go out and buy another to play a game that’s most likely multiplatform. Instead, it might push someone who’s been hanging on to that PS3 or Xbox 360 to make the leap to current-gen hardware.

Third party marketing deals are explicitly not for someone who’s currently reading this. No one who regularly browses gaming websites or is active in gaming culture on social media is swayed or convinced by marketing deals because they likely already know that just because a game shown next to a console’s logo doesn’t mean the game isn’t coming to other platforms.

What likely impacts core gaming consumers more than third party marketing are platform exclusive content or benefits. For example, Xbox One and PC users get Call of Duty add-ons one month after PlayStation, and the same goes for Destiny 2, though the time that content remains exclusive is a little murkier. Gamers who own multiple gaming platforms may be tempted to purchase a game on the console that offers exclusive content.

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Still, core gamers are also far more likely to be members of Xbox One and PS4’s online communities, so they might be less swayed by exclusive content and instead may stick to wherever the majority of their friends play. If you owned both Xbox One and PS4 and most of your friends are on Xbox One, would you really pick up Destiny 2 for the exclusive content, or would you play where you know you can engage with friends? Your answer may vary.

With E3 less than a week away, we’re likely in for even more third party marketing deals and platform exclusive content on the way. As Xbox moves further from deals with publishers to market their games and PlayStation ramps up, we’ll develop an even better understanding of just how much these marketing deals sway consumers as a whole.

How important do you think marketing deals are? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.

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