“Content Isn’t Worth a Damn…”
September 12, 2006
I was recently reading a speech given by acclaimed MMO designer Raph Koster (hat tip to GigaOm for highlighting this speech). Although Koster was addressing game designers, he made a great point which I think is eqally germane and instructive to social media and digital media executives more broadly:
“Content isn’t worth a damn. What is of value is the relationship between the consumer and the producer. Being good is no longer an exclusive. In a hit-driven business, the epitome of success is to be the Beatles or Elton John, which means having a consistent record of making blockbusters, or almost never screwing up, of always earning out reliably and of doing this over the course of decades. Those people are so rare they are the dodo, and their share of the audience as a percentage of the population is shrinking.
“The goal instead should be to be the Grateful Dead. You don’t want to be the number one hit, you want a relationship so that you can ding them over and over and over again. The band’s t-shirts may make more than their recordings.”
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For the record. He’s exactly right.
I like Bloomberg’s approach… content is a loss-leader to sell terminals (doesn’t mean the content isn’t good… just that the content is integrated tightly into the terminal business.)
Just look at Electronic Arts. A perfect example right in the Games space. As a former employer, I am a bit biased, but Madden was never the highest rated Football game in the market, but there was such an amazing level of trust built between the consumer and EA, that the game sold itself. And that in turn reflects on EA’s ability to sell other titles that are not rated nearly as high as competitor games, but outsells by a factor 3-10x. This is all about building a brand more than anything else. Call it a relationship between consumer and publisher, but at the end of day it is about building good product that has a familiar brand recognition. There is a reason why some still go back to Yahoo considering the numerous better alternatives.
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