Breaking The Wheel

A picture of Sun Tzu's the Art of War, which, it turns out, is an amazing book about marketing.

Marketing Games: Sun Tzu And The Fine Art of Succeeding Before You Begin

Marketing games. Some people consider it a necessary evil at best.  At worst, it’s the root of all of the industry’s ills. But what is marketing? The problem is that most people don’t know – and don’t realize they don’t know. And if you don’t know what it is, you can’t effectively develop a marketing strategy or manage the people who do so. You can’t ask your marketing department the right questions if you don’t know what the right questions are. So, before we dive into the functional aspects of marketing, let’s formalize our understanding of the field.

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A stack of pancakes

Friday Short Stack, September 30th Edition

Friday Short Stack posts are shorter, more bite-sized pieces – a little nugget of buttery knowledge before you head off for the weekend. Because everybody love pancakes! This week, it’s three of my favorite books for developing your “soft skills” – those esoteric abilities that help you work with (and in some cases around) people and their hang-ups, quirks, and egos. These are the three books that have provided me with the most utility, personally and professionally. If you find yourself struggling managing up, managing down, or just getting along, you could do worse than these weighty tomes.

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Sunk-Costs and Ugly Babies: On The Value of The Scientific Method – Game Planning With Science! Part 8 Featured Image

Sunk-Costs and Ugly Babies: On The Value of The Scientific Method – Game Planning With Science! Part 8

It struck me one day that “Game Planing With Science” has a glaring omission: the value of scrapping a plan. The goal of “Game Planning With Science” is to forecast, not predict. It’s to estimate and understand, but not to codify. You can’t codify the creative process, or the future for that matter. Just as important is the fact that life doesn’t care about your plans. Reality is going to be what it’s going to be. You can’t change reality to fit your plan, so modifying your plan to fit reality is the only path forward. As Dwight Eisenhower, one of the most immensely quotable people ever, once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.”

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A diagram of Porter's Five Forces Analysis

Five-Forces Analysis has Grim Tidings for Free-To-Play on Mobile

This post about five forces analysis originally appeared on my old blog and Gamasutra. I find that it’s as relevant today as it was then. Mobile is still a hot bed of both independent and publisher-backed development. And for good reason. There is a massive addressable market and mobile devices have high user engagement. Mobile also supports smaller test launches and rapid iteration, meaning that developers and publishers can treat mobile games less like products and more like businesses. Add to that the lack of any marginal production or distribution costs, and you have a super-sexy platform. And that’s exactly the problem. Mobile is so attractive and so accessible that the market place is perhaps the purest example of “perfect competition”, the yin to a monopoly’s yang.

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A woman with so much anxiety and stress that she's trying to eat her laptop. Ouch!

Anxiety And Stress Managment For Game Developers: Some Practical Tools

The video games industry is a fertile breeding ground for anxiety and stress. Almost every game is an entrepreneurial endeavor. Expeditionary. And uncertain. Uncertain  schedules, uncertain results, uncertain job security. It’s not for the faint of heart. In this article, I’m going to take a break from the usual managerial tone of Breaking The Wheel in order to focus on something more important than any game: your mental health.

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