Space Ramblings

Merchandising the Hell out of Game of Thrones

You can’t blame a writer for trying to make money from his creation. You can blame him for an extended narrative relying on gimmicks and you can also blame him for looking at Farmville and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we made something like that except with Game of Thrones.”

Yes sadly that’s a thing. And it comes from George R.R. Martin’s blog, alongside pitches for the actual Iron Throne, swords and figurines from the TV series.

I don’t know much about social media. I don’t have a facebook or twitter account. But I’ve been told a few people have them, and that some of those people like to play social media games. I’m told the biggest social media game involves running a farm.

Surely, I thought, there must be something one could do on social media that would be more fun that growing turnips and feeding chickens. Like, say, scheming and plotting, murders and marriages, contesting for power.

HBO shared the feeling, and together we have granted the license for a social media game based on GAME OF THRONES to a great new start-up company called Disruptor Beam ((http://disruptorbeam.com/ )) Game development is already well under way.

I’m not a major expert on Zynga country, but I’m sure they already have a ton of games that cover that territory. Just not one with the Game of Thrones brand.

The news stories on Disruptor’s site keep pushing the “It’s not Farmville” angle so my guess is that Disruptor’s PR people handed

game of thrones merchandising crap

Tacky merchandising is coming

Martin that angle and told him to go with it. Disruptor Beam lists no previous games so I’m assuming a few veterans of other social gaming companies who came together to make their own company, hire some newbies, get a lucrative license, put out a game that gets some attention entirely because it’s based on a TV series that gets some attention mainly because it’s on HBO which has a smooth PR machine.

But isn’t this overkill?

Martin’s blog is full of a ton of merchandising Game of Thrones crap. There’s already a game out.  There’s also reportedly going to be an MMO. Now there’s a social media game out. There’s a TV series and a graphic novel. All for a series of books that isn’t close to finished.

At this rate most people will be sick of Game of Thrones long before it’s finished. It’s not just oversaturated, it’s supersaturated. It’s everywhere and it’s really not that good. But even if it were that good, nothing survives this much stuff being associated with it. Even Lord of the Rings lost some of its stature because for a while you couldn’t turn left without seeing another figurine or game. And that’s a time tested series.

If you think this isn’t overkill, have a look at the HBO Game of Thrones store for things like a concert tour shirt with the names of Season 2 episodes, an iPhone skin that just says Khal on it, and an actual crown. This is the definition of pump and dump. Saturate a topic, sell as much of it as you can, until everyone is sick of it.

Oversaturating Game of Thrones serves HBO’s interests. They want to pull as much money out of it as possible, out of the gate, and move on to the next thing. Saturating Game of Thrones keeps it a trending topic and pulls in viewers to subscribe to HBO which is the game plan. When people get bored, HBO will have already rolled out the next thing.

But is it in Martin’s interest? George R.R. Martin wasn’t a major personality before this. He was a talented writer, but now he’s gone pop culture. It’s a big opportunity and cashing in on it is natural, but he needs to think of his long term interests which don’t just revolve around selling as many Game of Thrones trinkets as possible. It’s in how people see Game of Thrones after HBO has pumped it and dumped it and his image as a writer who can do more than Game of Thrones, not as the bearded guy on the Game of Thrones shopping network.

Memes, catchphrases, trends wear out quickly. The more you oversaturate it, the faster it wears out. Game of Thrones will wear out before the last book is done. The backlash will come even earlier. And what happens then?

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