Thursday, November 11, 2010

Milking the Rumor Mill

 by SandWyrm

It amazes me that people still fall for this crap.

It's a well-established pattern. GW releases a new codex and within a day or two rumors suddenly start appearing, offering tantalizing details of the next codex in line. Oftentimes, new rumors will also suddenly appear at the 3 month, 2 month, and 1 month to-go marks. 

Coincidence? Hardly. GW (or rather the viral marketing firm they've hired) is a master at milking the 40K rumor-verse for free advertising.

It's happened with every other codex. Orks came out and the rumors of the new Space Marine book immediately hit. When Marines arrived we got the first IG rumors. Then Wolves, then Nids, then Blood Angels. It's like clockwork.

Now we have the Dark Eldar codex in-hand, and suddenly yet more rumors come forth. Only this time GW's insecurities over the risky Dark Eldar release caused them to release the first GK rumors as soon as the DE codex was announced. As a sort of back-up plan should the new release fail.

I don't think they like what they heard in response.

"Oh no!" the interwebs cried. "There's Inquisitors, Stormtroopers, Valks, PDF/IG troops, and Hellhounds in the new codex! Waaaaaaaaaaa.... THEY'RE NOT PURE GK!!!"

Nevermind the existing fluff and the Black Library books, where small units of GKs arrive in the nick of time to stop the Daemons; with local PDF and IG troops as backup. Nevermind that Inquisitors like Eisenhorn are always running about with Naval Stormtroopers and PDF troops as an escort. Or that IG, Inquisitors, and such forth are in the old codex right now. These players want purity, in a deluded effort to make this Marine codex just like every other Marine codex instead of being interesting and different.

So dutifully enough,  the rumors got adjusted today. Using the website that GW has outsourced most of it's online presence to.

It's pure marketing. Get the audience to talk about what you want to talk about. And get people too twisted up in the apparent contradictions to ever forget about your product. The more brain-time you can get, the more money the product will bring in.

The charitable part of me says that maybe a January release was intended, but that they've put it off to March so they can work on appeasing the purists a bit more. But my more cynical side, the one with the art degree and 15 years of hard-bitten media experience, says the book is done and it's not going to change one bit before it's finally released.


  1. don't forget the new storm raven

  2. but *I* want inquisitors and IST's and not just a metallic marines FOTM Marines codex.

  3. I am interested to see how it all turns out. Though I agree, it is probably already done, and they are just toying with us.
    I would prefer a more GK oriented book. there is enough inquisitor/IG stuff as it is.... aka IG book and... shenanigans. lol

    Also, sorry to post so quickly after yours, but I was also checking bols rumors, and boom.

  4. I think we kinda crossed into Conspiracy Theory land at some point, there. In related news, GW also runs the Shadow Government that puts the chips in our heads to read our thoughts.

    BoLS gets their rumors solely from scanning dakkadakka and Warseer, where a handful of well known people post rumors from time to time. Considering the majority of the playerbase doesn't read blogs or forums, as a major marketing campaign this would fail pretty spectacularly, and you've giving GW credit for being far more competent at this whole process than they actually are.

    If they released the Codex with the kind of IG presence as was originally rumored, it would be borderline retarded. IG is already the top-tier tournament army--dumping all the IG stuff into a new Codex means you have to make the GK even BETTER than the current IG, or everyone will just use the overpowered IG bits and cherry-pick the two or three useful things from the GK Codex to make them even better.

    Oh, hey, maybe like this:

    They probably intend for people to actually have, you know, a Grey Knight in their Grey Knight armies.

  5. @Dodgerj3

    Viral marketing exists and is all around you. Whether you notice or not.

    Fake stories/comments on websites/blogs has been a well-known tactic for some time now (see, iTunes, or any Porn blog designed to funnel search queries). There are other methods that are less well known, but that pop up all the time in industry trade mags and websites as the next new thing. I've seen these. They exist. There are entire marketing companies built around them.

    Some examples:

    Drink companies have been known to hire people to walk into bars and start conversations about new products on purpose. To start a "buzz" about the product that won't be as easily ignored as traditional advertisements.

    Obama's campaign made no secret of it's efforts to mobilize bloggers to overwhelm competing message boards. Some of those were even directly paid by the campaign.

    The Bush White House knew exactly which journalists to call when it wanted to get info to the public without going through official channels (see Valarie Plame).

    Remember the Boston bomb scare when a viral marketing company started leaving LED signs all over the place to advertise a Cartoon Network show?

    All it requires for GW to use this tactic is one dedicated staff member (or contractor) to periodically release rumors to known sources and then monitor the results for effectiveness. These rumors are then seeded on the lesser sites and make their way to the majors as more and more people spread them.

    The proof is in the timing. 95% of all GW rumors are released on a predictable schedule. Hence, they are controlled.

  6. Yes, viral marketing exists. I don't believe I was disuputing that.

    If you want to talk about something like that, just go one post higher. Everyone knows they don't "accidentally" post pictures of unreleased models, as they've "accidentally" done it about four releases in a row.

    If you look to the rumors themselves and the people who post them, it's pretty clear it's not that kind of situation--nor do they fit into the kind of schedule you've laid out--that's solely when BoLS originally reports on them.

    Stickmonkey and other forum contributors had been posting most of the original wave of GK rumors since before there were solid DE rumors, and there was heavy discussion about whether DE or GK would end up in the November slot because of how fluid the DE situation was while we knew so much about GK.

    Somebody even posted a battle report from one of the test games (GK vs Orks, I believe it got copy/pasted into the last round of BoLS rumor updates). There's even been an original set of Necron rumors for about a month, and there's no way Necrons will be out in five months.

    The schedule you're talking about just doesn't exist. The people who provide the rumors (and people who have previously worked for GW) tend to talk about a 12-18 month process of making a new Codex, so obviously rumors will tend to start coming out at nearly the same time in the development cycle of each one. But it's hardly a set in stone marketing timeline--there are people who provide the rumors, and whenever the product reaches the point those people occupy on the totem pole, rumors start to happen.

  7. "I think we kinda crossed into Conspiracy Theory land at some point, there. In related news, GW also runs the Shadow Government that puts the chips in our heads to read our thoughts."

    That sounds pretty dismissive of the concept to me.

  8. Either way Dodger3. I cannot wait to get my new Grey Knight Codex so I can step on the field with you and your daemons and do something incredibly broken to the Chaos Spawn!


  9. "Considering the majority of the playerbase doesn't read blogs or forums, "

    First of all, MANY 40k gamers have an online presence. And for those who don't, they have friends who do. Even if only 1/3 of the people who play this game pick up the rumors online, they then discuss them with their friends in the store.

    It's not hard to figure out how that works.


out dang bot!

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