Sony Entertainment (2014) a top leader in multiple-player online games, is committed to creating an interactive, fun environment for gamers and consumers of all ages. One of the company’s popular games, Everquest II, is an innovative, three-dimensional virtual game that was designed by Sony in 2004. A multi-player fantasy game, Everquest II allows players to interact in a fictional world. With high-quality graphics and vivid storylines, players become enraptured with the game, which is based off of Sony’s earlier version, Everquest

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With the emergence of new high-tech, fantasy games, Everquest II has to revamp its marketing strategy to compete in the fast-changing gaming industry. One of its primary competitors is the game, The World of Warcraft developed by Blizzard (Blizzard Entertaiment, 2014). Through animated characters, the game has gained massive appeal among consumers and its fan base surpasses Everquest II. Thus, World of Warcraft is the largest MMORPG in the world (Blizzard Entertaiment, 2014). But Everquest II has a competitive advantage over the company due to its realistic characters and innovative storyline.

Sony Online Entertainment’s greatest strength is its recognizable, quality brand. But Everquest II weakness lies in its marketing strategy, which needs to be improved to meet the changing trends of the market. The constant threat of new online games with creative marketing campaigns continue to pose as a challenge for the company. Thus, Sony has a great opportunity to boost consumer appeal for Everquest II by focusing on an intensive marketing strategy increases visibility for its strong company brand and appeals to diverse consumers.

Although Everquest II has a strong consumer database, there are some competitors that could jeopardize the successes of this franchise. Similar to Everquest II, Ruins of Magic by Gameforge has developed a strong following. Ruins by Magic allows players to interact with others, fulfill different quests and change their players (Gameforge, 2014). Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn provides gamers with similar benefits, but the format is slightly different. Despite the difference in format, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was named one of the top online games by Forbes in 2013 (Forbes, 2013).

Even as more competitors emerge, Sony has managed to maintain a devoted following. Sony continues to reinvent and add new features to the current Everquest II franchise. One of these new features that was released last year was the Everquest II app. This app allowed gamers to play from their smartphones or tablets (Everquest II, 2013). However, of Everquest II’s competitors do not allow individuals to play on the go. As a result, this is one element that sets Everquest II apart from other online games.

According to Gartner, a technology research company, the spending on video online games is expected to reach $112 billion by 2015 (Bilton, 2011). Thus, the gaming market is continually growing at a high rate as newer, tech savvy games hit the market. But with digital devices such as mobile phones, many consumers are transitioning to their mobile phones to play games. Gaming companies such as Everquest II needs to keep up with the changing trends and redesign their marketing strategy to tailor to the unique interests of its consumers.

Sony offers Everquest II at a cost-effective price for its consumers. But with the onset of other games offering similar prices, the company needs to create an effective pricing strategy that will help it to combat its competition. For instance offering discounts on newly released games and other promotional price reductions such as ten dollars off of a particular collectible game will be extremely beneficial for the company. Television commercials and online ads displaying the features of the Everquest II and the promotional discounts will further promote and advertise the company.

Everquest II should also be offered in retail game stores and large stores such as Walmart and Target to increase its visibility and reach diverse consumers. Large stores such as Walmart in areas in close proximity to Everquest’s target consumers will allow Everquest to not only reach its target gamer consumers, but it will also gain high visibility among other diverse consumers as well.

The target consumer base for Everquest II consists of gamers between the ages of 10 to 45 (Sony Entertainment, 2014). These consumers share similar interests in online gaming, virtual interaction and character, storyline development in fantasy subjects. Also, they devote a lot of time interacting in these games and constantly need to be stimulated by innovative new plots. The development of new plots has further been shown to be successful in keeping players playing. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (2013) adults play online or video games for an average of twelve hours a week.

With the growing popularity of social media sites, Facebook will be an effective online marketing tool for the company. Sending out creative online posts to all of its Facebook followers advertising the newest game or current discounts will allow Everquest II to reach a large group of consumers. Also, the “likers” of the Everquest page indicate consumers who are interested in online games and support Everquest. Researching profiles from this list and grouping them into categories, such as Casual Gamers and Cafeteria gamers will allow the company to gauge the unique interests and needs of its consumers. Ultimately, online advertising through a popular medium such as Facebook will allow Sony to expand Everquest II’s consumer base and grow both nationally and globally.

In positioning the product, Sony will highlight the beneficial attributes of Everquest II. The diversified quests, ability to interact with other gamers, and the newly released app allowing consumers to play on the go will help Everquest II to differentiate Everquest II from other role-playing games. However, it is also important to explore elements that make Everquest II different from the original version of the game. Although Everquest I has a strong consumer following, the additional features and improved graphics Everquest II exhibits will be the focus of marketing tactics.

The product will be sold in large-scale retail stores throughout the country (Wal-Mart, Target, etc.). The product will also be sold on the company website and at large internet retailers (such as Amazon).

Sony should consider expanding Everquest II into Germany. Germany has a strong economy. According to BBC (2012) “the German economy is by far the most powerful in Europe” (para. 3). In addition to the strong economy, online gaming has a large consumer following in Germany. According to The Media, Center and Technology Research Specialists (2013), 42% of males between the ages of 16-64 reports currently playing an online game. Furthermore, this research demonstrated that online gaming is the most popular way to play games in Germany.

The United States and Germany have similar cultural values that would increase the likelihood that German consumers positively receive Everquest II. Similar to the United States, German consumers have a high level of low context communication (Sage Publications, 2012). This type of communication focuses on highlighting messages in a direct manner. In reviewing how the game functions, Everquest II has a high level of direct communication, as the instructions and messages given throughout the quests are direct, clear and concise. Furthermore, consumers in the United States and Germany both exhibit strong levels of individualism, which affects their behaviors and preferences.

In marketing the product to German consumers, Sony should focus on marketing the product to males between the ages of 16-34, as this population is significantly more likely to play online/video games (The Media, Center and Technology Research Specialists, 2013). Although determining how to effectively enter the German market is a difficult attribute, the similarities between consumers in the United States and German directly influence the likelihood that this game will be successfully received in Germany.