What Breath of the Wild Can Teach About Marketing

Digital Gaming IconDigital Gaming October 27, 2017

Hundreds, if not thousands of video games come out every year. Few come out with such anticipation and fanfare as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Having been delayed for numerous years, the game was well worth the wait with hundreds of reviewers giving the game a perfect rating. There are many aspects of Breath of the Wild (BotW) that make it particularly engaging. Looking at the game through the lens of marketing, it becomes clear that BotW is much more than just dungeon-crawling, Princess-saving, and boss battles—it is a master work in video game marketing.

Spoiler Alert: Before continuing, know that there are spoilers in this post. Continue at your own risk if you haven’t finished the game. ?

One of the things Breath of the Wild does well is maintaining player interest. When exploring the vast open world, there’s always that next tree to climb, star fragment to grab, dragon to pursue, and shine to reach. Exploring the map is exciting with every little nook having some point of engagement. Quests further this with mostly small ascertainable goals that keep players wanting more.

Compare this idea to one’s website.

A website can be built just like any other game, or it can be made in a way that sets it apart and maintains user interest (BotW).

Be the Breath of the Wild site!

Nowadays, most modern browsers, with help from CSS and jQuery, can display some fairly neat effects. From parallax to hover, much of current web design is just limited by one’s imagination. It’s really no excuse not to think about how your website can be designed to encourage interaction—especially if space can be budgeted for a better user experience

In addition to website design, copy can be a vehicle for minimizing and enhancing interest. Great copy speaks well to a target audience. It may even be a bit controversial. One example of great copywriting that I like to refer to comes from Woot. Even if you’ve never wanted a Roomba, an outdoor storage tent for your bike, or an upside-down umbrella; they manage to intrigue and engage customers old and new with excellent copy.

As of this writing, here’s a small snippet from their site about a Pellet Grill and Smoker:

We get it. You’re tough. You could totally survive in the wilderness for a week eating nothing but bugs and grass. But be honest with yourself: is that what you really want? Probably not. So use this Camp Chef grill to cook outside… And if you still really want to eat bugs, then you can always use this to grill them.

Who doesn’t want to be called tough? We like to think we know more than we actually do. This copy takes advantage of who we are to create an offer that gets people wanting the product and more.

Another lesson from Breath of the Wild is making the effort worth it. Though much can be said about what happens when you finally collect all 900 Korok Seeds, most every bit of effort in the game is satisfying. From defeating a strong enemy with barely any weaponry or clothing to annoying NPC’s by standing on their counters, the attention to detail leads to further exploration.

When it comes to marketing, there are man different hoops that customers have to jump through. Whether filling out a wall of contact information or perusing a catalog of products, some aspects of marketing are inevitable. They can, however, be designed in such a way that the process results in a desire to explore and complete (as opposed to give up).

Progress bars are a good way of increasing conversions during a multi-step process. Elsewhere, actions like adding an unexpected gift in a shipment, or giving out a coupon at the end of a successful checkout can increase the likelihood that customers will “hang around town” (and become a repeat customer).

Breath of the Wild, in all of its grandeur also has some pretty odd characters. In part of the story, you learn about a peculiar character that only comes around at night. Village-goers talk about him in a way that intrigues.

You want to find him, but how and why?

Even if people aren’t really sure why, pointing something out and otherwise making something appear special is a great way of improving the appeal of that item or service. Limited availabilities (even if they’re feigned), lines out the door, people congregating around, special editions, sets, spinning something common into something uncommon, etc. these are all ways of making your product or service appear more desirable.

One thing that quickly becomes intriguing in BotW is the ability to climb. Timed correctly, climbing can be an easy way to avoid a bunch of badies. The manner in which players can use food or potions to boost stamina (used to climb) means that oftentimes a successful climb is only limited by the amount of resources a player has.

Sure you can later fly clear across the map just like you can acquire your next 100 customers, but at what cost?

Will you dump $1,000 into a low performing display campaign or use this more creatively to acquire even better results?

Instead of a brute force approach, players can use climbing as a tool in a toolkit to achieve results. Paired with smart engagement of the right enemies and the best armor, one can find success without even turning to consumables like stamina potions. Gentle slopes and cliffs can even slow the rate of stamina burn much like taking the time to better understand and fine tune advertising platforms.

Smart usage of real time and money, like the smart usage of stamina in BotW can lead to similar, if not better results.

Speaking of results, fighting enemies can be a losing battle, especially when they are just a bit stronger than you. Elemental types and attacks create a system where a single attack can result in a huge blow (if not fatal attempt) to an enemy. This isn’t much different in real life where the right tools for the job can result in higher efficacy.

As I’m writing this post on paper (first) even, it’s amazing how much more I’m able to write in the same amount of time with a Uni-ball Rollerball pen as opposed to the G-2 pens I used to use—what’s not to like about that?

Understanding what tools are available is the first step in using your own version of elemental attacks in business. If you need some way of better designing products, for instance, it’s good to know what design tools are available out there to then decide which one is best for your situation.

Through playing Breath of the Wild, players inadvertently experience many marketing concepts in real time. From wanting to complete all 120 shrines to experimenting with different recipes, finding a skeleton horse to helping build a new town, there’s a lot of things the game gets players to do. By understanding these concepts more and the reasons behind how they work, we can all learn more about better marketing.

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