There will be many development people reading this who know exactly what I look like. And I don’t mean in some carefully-posed corporate photograph either. I mean in the shambolic, 3D, real-world flesh. In fact they will be far more familiar with my ugly appearance than that of just about any other co-worker from Marketing. The reason for this is very simple and very complicated at the same time. For I am a practitioner of a dark management art called MBWA. An art so powerful that it was behind Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard building the biggest technology company in the world from an investment of just $538. An art that is often unknown by modern managers yet which yields almost mystical powers in those that have the vital knowledge. An art that has also been instrumental in the success of many of the the most successful companies on Earth, including Apple, GE, Wal-Mart, Pepsi, Disney, Dell, 3M, Lucasfilm and McDonalds—to name a few.
The Power of MBWA
To understand just a small part of the powers of MBWA in publishing a game that is a commercial success, there is an essential fact that everyone in the games industry needs to know. And that fact is that if a game has zero marketing it will have zero sales. Given that, just telling your mum about it constitutes marketing. You see, development and marketing work hand-in-hand. Like a rifle and bullet, they are pretty useless in isolation, yet used properly together they make a lethal combination. But in the real world of the modern game industry they rarely work together as they are supposed to—and it is the fault of the marketing people. It is their job to communicate. And in order to communicate they need knowledge. In fact they need more than knowledge, they need passion and commitment as well. Which can only come from visiting the team that makes the game they are marketing. Frequently.
MBWA is an acronym for Management By Walking (or Wandering) About. Seriously. If you Google it you will find that it is a well-regarded professional management technique. Books have been written about it, and it is well proven to be mightily effective, as the many number one games I have worked on help to illustrate. Yet too many managers in the video game industry do not know that it exists. They hide behind their keyboards and go to endless, time-wasting meetings with other marketing people instead. Which is a pity because MBWA is especially effective when you are bringing together disparate groups with widely differing skills, all in an effort to hit the bull’s-eye with that metaphorical rifle.