It's been a great run for Mega Dry Erase Board, but all good things come to an end.

Death always comes too early or too late. ~ English Saying

We came a long way together, me and the the Mega Dry Erase Board. From office to office; from house to house; from West Coast to East Coast. And this is our sad goodbye.

We’ve been together for about eight years and launched literally dozens and dozens of video games together.  Mounted in offices and homes, MDEB was as happy being a drawing pad for kids as it was pleased to be a month-by-month diagram of exclusives and stories.  Now, like Old Yeller, I gotta put it down.

The Classic RRRRROADKILL Bumper Sticker from UT04.

MDEB and I came together back in 2002 at the doomed offices of Atari Santa Monica, a colorful warehouse full of mad people working on too many games in too little time.  MDEB laid out the PR programs for games like Unreal Tournament 2004, Enter the Matrix and DRIV3R and a take-your-pick grab bag of European republished titles.  MDEB carried reminders about asset drops and cover stories while at the same time providing a sweet barrier between my cube and the next.

MDEB was the place where we listed the invitees to the epic Cabos San Lucas “Atari University” event.

MDEB listed departure and arrival times for the European jaunts for Stuntman, Superman, and Driver.

MDEB was where I wrote the server address for the UT2004 message board battles and the names of posters I would gunning for.

MDEB held colorful messages for other people in the office too, like “If I don’t turn around when you say my name, just go away” and “I hate you all, can’t you see that?”

A unerasable reminder to write the World in Conflict E3 Awards Release

MDEB moved home with me when the Atari offices closed (along with a busted executive desk chair and several copies of UT04 Editor’s Choice Edition).  It became the central figure in my new home office, and when I joined up with Maverick PR, it was what helped me organize plans and business activities.  It worked hard on World in Conflict.

It amused the kid when he hung out with me, giving him a place to draw, and it welcomed potential buyers to our home on Open House days, encouraging them with messages like “If you lived here, you would be home right now” and “Wow! What a fantastic home office this is! It should be YOURS!”

A place of honor in the Los Angeles home office, on the wall on the left (barely visible)

But alas, time has caught up to Mega Dry Erase Board.  Namely, it no longer erases.  My kid’s owl is permanent and so are the notes about World in Conflict and the diagram of our new property in Mass.  The Unreal franchise stickers are dated.  And it’s metal edge is bent horribly from the cross country move.

So today we say goodbye to the Mega Dry Erase Board and wish it well on its journey to the local landfill.  It’s the end of an era here, and with great sorrow, we say farewell.

I apologize to my handful of readers.  I let my entries reduce to a slow trickle and I know, I have to face what I have done and eat sh** for being so bad about it… I think a quick recap is in order to bring us up to speed:

Wicked Quick E3 2009 Recap

The short of it is: the show is definitely BACK and returning to where it needs to be to become an impactful global presence. I was relieved to see people happy and excited to be there again.

No E3 is E3 without Marcus, the AnnoyedGamer, in the house.  He really is annoyed most of the time you know...

No E3 is E3 without my buddy Marcus, known officially as The Annoyed Gamer. He really is annoyed most of the time you know...

As for me going in without a title to promote – I at least had myself and Maverick PR to push!  I had an amazing time wandering the floor free for the very first time in my career checking out games and catching up with the West Coasters.

I had lots of new business meetings – and made a bunch of new connections that I’m hopeful will turn into some really fun partnerships down the road.

I really dug the press conferences but the MSFT line management at their conference was ridiculously poorly executed.  At the same time, Sony’s morning open bar was a win-win – it was great crowd-pleaser and made entering orderly and relaxing.  Take notes for next year, people!

Sony's 10am open bar spanked Miscrosoft's endless line with 5 different check-ins; um... who makes the EIC of GI wait in the BACK of the line at your biggest event of the year?  Answer: Microsoft

Sony's 10am open bar spanked Microsoft's endless line and check-ins; um... who makes the EIC of GI wait in the BACK of the line at your biggest press event of the year? Answer: Microsoft

Overall, I felt that the game lineup at E3 2009 significantly underwhelmed while the hardware lineup was exciting.  Seemed like there was a lot of the same old stuff (sequels, same-old racing games, sports, blah, blah) and derivative titles that simply don’t appeal to me in any way (um, DJ Hero, I’m sorry, you don’t make any sense to me and you will never be in my house).  No game jumped out as being really cool and exciting.  At least L4D2 was there.🙂

iRacing Emerges to the Gamer Crowd…

At MavPR we’ve been busy firing up the engines for iRacing… if you’ve missed any of that coverage, you can check it out by visiting the links off the MavPR site here, here, and here. There’s a lot more coming from this awesome Boston-area online sim racing league, so stay tuned…

iRacing is making the rounds; it's more realistic with better online features than GT5. There. I said it. Deal with it.

iRacing is making the rounds; it's more realistic with better online features than GT5. There. I said it. Deal with it.

New Business News on the Horizon… Big News!

We’ve also been lining up some very big new business deals and some fun projects for the coming year… we’re going to have a fat announcement about that very shortly, which brings me great joy…

Maverick PR Rolls On As A Successful Small Business

round3_newcard back1 copyThe really cool thing is that I’m now into my third year working from Maverick PR.  THAT is pretty awesome – I think that’s coming up on as long as I have worked anywhere.  I’m really proud that we’re beating the odds on small businesses, “especially  in this economy.” 🙂

We’re certainly helped by our forward-thinking structure with virtual office space and super-low overhead.  But we do things a bit differently here – we have a really intense focus on setting high expectations for ourselves, developing and utilizing very strategic thinking and planning, and delivering with superior performance and bottom line results.  Sure, I’ve bonked heads with some people along the way who I didn’t think shared that same commitment to a title’s success – but really, it was all worth it in the end. I tend to focus singularly on the success of a title and PR program, and how we can leverage buzz to further that success.  I know it irritates some people how passionate and driven I can be in those situations.

Here’s to a few more successful years of our little “micro-boutique” agency.

– PR_Flak

PS – be sure to check out the Big Huge List of games that Brandon and I have worked on – I just posted it yesterday and I think it’s hilarious.  And shocking.  Who could forget some of those HITS!?  Feedn’ Chloe? Wee!

What Will E3 Be Like For A PR Flak With No Game to Hype?

E3For the first time ever, I’m heading to E3 without a specific project or company to push (besides MavPR of course).

I’m not relentlessly booking (and double-booking) appointments.  I’m not debating the merits and lameness of tchotchkes, t-shirts and booth layouts.  I’m not training demo teams and booth staff in key messages, protocols, “what not to say” and who to bring to me and who to shoo along.

So what, exactly, am I going to be doing this year?  I’m flying out at my own expense to be there… so what’s the angle?

Still working on that.

Read the rest of this entry »

With new business models, exploding DLC, emerging MMO imports and more, the definition of “shipping” a game has become increasingly obtuse.  What does this mean for PR and how are the media adapting?

Historically, media coverage of video games within the “enthusiast press” has followed very straight, and very narrow, line.  It’s boundaries were limited and restrictive and went, basically, like this:

ANNOUNCE! PREVIEW! REVIEW! … OK, now what’s next…?

And this process worked efficiently for years. The media was a reflection of the timelines and needs of retailers and publishers.  A game got its hype prior to release which led to critical “pre-sells” at GameStop which in turn indicated to buyers that the title would succeed which caused them to buy more copies and fill more shelves… then the game would hit shelves and mega-sales followed.  The game disappeared from the press, and shortly thereafter it faded from shelves and found its way to the bargain bin. Read the rest of this entry »

So a former colleague/industry friend started a PR/marketing blogging site where we can all gather and share thoughts and invited me to contribute.  So I have!  Check out my first post, talking about focusing on a field before an industry over on the site.

CLICK HERE

lunchtimegaming-copy

As I mentioned earlier, I really have gotten back into PC gaming with Valve’s brilliant Left 4 Dead.  It has completely reinvigorated my love of PC FPS and I’ve been buried in the game ever since.

Admittedly, my lonely Xbox360 lays idle now as I explore the zombie infested hallways and cityscapes.  First it was the campaign mode, with it’s awesome reliance on co-op teamwork.  Then I got up the gumption to jump into Versus and feel what it’s like to eat human face, laughing all the time… that move alone sucked me in for days.

And now Valve has released their free DLC – Survival Pack – which of course, I instantly loaded up for an update of the Lunchtime Gaming Series.  So how does it stack up?  Read the rest of this entry »

OR… How To Use A Specific and Justified “ASK” to Get The Screens You Need.

artofscreen2-copyOver on Mavpr.com I’ve thrown on my latest installment of The Art of the Screenshot, this time taking the more hands-on approach and discussing the best ways to request screenshots, the information you should be sharing and how to make PD your partner in the process.

The suggestions within are gleaned from years of working with some of the most finicky developers in this industry — those who are most intensely concerned with how their game is being represented, what shots are being used for what purpose, and of course, the overall quality of these assets.  This includes giants like Epic, Bioware, id, Massive and the IP managers at top licensors like Universal Pictures.

Here’s a snip:

By building a specific and justified ask and knowing what you need to know, you’ve streamlined the process and produced better assets for your game.  More importantly, you’ve invited the development team to participate in the PR process, creating a partner rather than an adversary in the effort to tell the story of the game.

I hope you enjoy the read.  Leading the asset creation process with vision rather than passively waiting for someone else to create vital materials for you is critical to true success.

– PR_Flakavatarprflak-whole

Every week, I root for this kid just in case it makes Andy happier in his secret double life.

andygokey3

with apologies…

– PR_Flak

or… “Why Playing With Double-Edged Swords Just Means Twice as Many Cuts”

An Image That Should Haunt Gamemakers Everywhere

An image that should haunt gamemakers Everywhere

I loathe MetaCritic.  It’s inaccurate.  It’s unfair.  It’s arbitrary.  And it wields way too much power.  What really gets me though, is how little MC seems to care about these issues.

I admit that this is well covered territory.  Actual journalists and journalists and industry bigwigs have been here.  Developers and publishers have lamented MC’s power.  Others have questioned whether MC has any power at all.

And yet, after all this chatter, nothing has changed.  So what’s going on here?

It comes down to a simple fact — MetaCritic casts a powerful shadow but it is constituted of editorial inaccuracy, factual distortions and unchecked subjectivity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Over on MavPR.com I’ve added the second installment of my ongoing screen shots series: “THE ART OF THE SCREENSHOT.”

In this entry I talk about injecting attitude  and stirring emotions with the screen shots you select.  While it’s important that an image looks great, of course, it’s even more important to find an image that is expressive of your key messaging and makes the viewer of that image feel what is cool about the game.

Here are a couple snips – head on over to www.mavpr.com to read the whole post:

Many of us get so caught up in finding screens that look cool, or have crazy violence… or cool action… or neat water reflections… that we forget to take into account the attitude that is being presented and how that attitude meshes with the key messaging of a game.

Our job as PR and Marketers is to create an emotional connection with our target audience; artwork is a critical device to do that, rather than a tool for explaining mundane details.

We need to give our audience a reason to to believe; emote an attitude that appeals; connect emotionally; and offer a small taste of the fun rather than an explanation of the activity.

I hope you enjoy the read.  Time to get started on Part III…

– PR_Flakavatarprflak-whole

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