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ESRB Comments As Promotion

I've noticed an interesting trend in reporting on new video games. The hunger for new information is so great in this market, that writers (bloggers especially, but often the game press as well) will latch onto comments in ESRB press releases (Electronic Software Ratings Board) for clues as to a game's content. And since these releases will either come prior to hands-on experience with a game or supersede embargoed knowledge, they make excellent fodder for content.

Here's the rub, though. Can game marketers be looking more closely at this trend as a marketing opportunity?

This insight comes from a series of recent tweets from a Kotaku.com writer about an upcoming game. In the tweets about an ESRB press release, it was revealed the game had received an M rating (mature) for "shooting people in the buttocks."

Now I don't know about you, but that reeks of studio involvement. A ratings board alone would have probably said, "excessive violence." But this specific hint as to what the game is like intrigues gamers and makes people laugh. It adds character and dimension to a game. It's something to talk about. And it creates pass-along buzz.

And it's smart marketing.

If I was a game studio marketer, I'd always be looking at the ESRB submission paperwork and seeding it with "descriptively creative" explanations of the game, to help seed more such commentary. It's a slam-dunk social strategy.

Now if you excuse me, I've got some buttocks to shoot.

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