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Infinium to Infiltrate Gamer Forums 91

Opposable Thumbs, over at Ars Technica, points out something we have have overlooked last week when Infinium Labs opened its books. Besides dropping the Phantom in favour of getting the keyboard to market, one of their business plans calls for the company to "infiltrate best-in-class video game communities with simple, easy to understand message and seeding on tech blogs, gaming sites and on-line player forums with compelling imagery and links to lapboard eye candy." Because that's sure to net them some goodwill and customer loyalty.
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Infinium to Infiltrate Gamer Forums

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  • I frequent one of these "best-in-class" forums (BeyondUnreal), and we get the "HAY CHEK OUT MY SITE" posts all of the time. They usually get banned and culled within five minutes as the community mocks them mercilessly.
    • I frequent one of these "best-in-class" forums (BeyondUnreal), and we get the "HAY CHEK OUT MY SITE" posts all of the time. They usually get banned and culled within five minutes as the community mocks them mercilessly.

      Thing is, these are probably not the paid shills. The real shills, you don't even know about.

      It is true that companies occasionally get caught for this - it happened to Midway pretty publicly on Usenet about 5-6 years ago, for example. But take it from someone who used to both do it and rec
      • Still, even without this news, it would be easy to spot the pro-Infinium shills, anyone promoting their stuff as if it was cool gets a strike against them.
        • A skilled manipulator can make you desire a feature(set) without mentioning any products by name or company. I can mention my desire for an on-demand on-line game distribution service because it would free me from physical game media, without saying that such a product is a good thing, nor mentioning that any particular console product claims to be able to give me that benefit.

          Did you assume that I was talking about Infinium?
      • Just curious, how well did it pay?

        Because honestly, no offense, but if you get paid a decent amount for it, the companies should be spending that money on better developers to improve their (largely shitty, nowadays) games.
        • Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works. If you have the best game in the world but nobody knows about it, you just have a good game you've probably invested a lot into. (For an indie, that's probably a lot of time in addition to some of what should have been your retirement fund.) Once people know about it, then you have a profitable business that lets you make other games.

          The main purpose of marketing is to let you know about a product and drive demand. Of course, many times marketers use ma
          • I liked your post, but the other side can be argued too. An example would be hotmail, that grew originally at a fast pace with no marketing (pre-MS). The product was in itself viral and required no outside marketing. Google and Firefox were spread with groundswell from the lowly man on the street - no paid shills required, all geeks become the shills. An insanely good product will sell itself, and begs the question - if the effort to market a product is inversely proportional to quality of product? I know t
            • I certainly didn't mean to make it sound like "online street teams" are the only way to market, but you do need a good marketing plan. A "viral" product becomes so because of a marketing plan. Hotmail had a hook in being one of the first and better webmail applications, and they were advertised every time someone sent an email: "Hotmail.com, what ISP is that you're sending from?" Firefox definitely had a very strong marketing angle, they were just lucky enough to have enthusiastic supporters. And, they
          • I actually played Meridian 59 when it first came out. No offense, but I wasn't that impressed. Then again, I'm not really a MMO-gamer, so I'm probably not a target demographic (it all went downhill after the original Neverwinter Nights :)

            I was looking at someone like stardock, in particular the fact that they have basically built a game based on what they would want (from the beginning with GalCiv for OS/2)

            Obviously, they've supported themselves with other projects in the meantime, but it looks very likely
            • I actually played Meridian 59 when it first came out. No offense, but I wasn't that impressed.

              Of course, things have changed in the past 10 years since M59 came out. This is another aspect of marketing, to let people know that the product is "New and Improved!" We've poured a lot of new content into the game, rebalanced things, even got a new rendering engine [meridian59.com] as an alternative to the old software renderer. Of course, it's still the same game that focuses on character advancement and PvP combat, but even
      • I regularly frequent the official Atari Rollercoaster Tycoon forums and there seems to be a bit of wallpapering/shills going on there. For example, there are always people who say "most people dont care about making this ride better" or "casual gamers dont want scenery importing" or otherwise come up with an excuse as to why xyz bug doesnt in fact need to be fixed or why xyz feature suggestion shouldnt be implemented. (to be honest, I actually do think that some of the feature suggestions shouldnt be implem
      • Penny Arcade had a rather interesting blog post about this a couple of weeks ago. I'm starting to look suspeciously upon any uncritical announcement of a gigantic, mass-market piece of media culture as potential astroturfing. They tend to be easy to mock, at least.

        Unfortunately, that also makes it difficult to get past people's internal turf-filters in order to express honest appreciation for stuff. There are certainly people here who look askance at the prevalence of Nintendo support here, but I conside
  • Their lap board sure is amazing! Here are some pictures! I'm going to buy twelve! How about you!

    Seriously though, havn't people been accusing companies of this for awhile now?
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
      heh, if you follow the link to gamespot, they have a picture and some comments. The first comment says

      Yes, because we all love typing at an angle. And why does the mouse have a wire coming out of it if it's wireless?

      I cropped the pic and blew up a section, so you can see it easily.

      http://img226.imageshack.us/img226/8233/phantomwir ed1ft.jpg [imageshack.us]

      What a joke, even their Press Pic don't jive with the product they're selling.

      • Good point.

        First of all, I'm still completely convinced it is all a hoax, and second of all, I'm really having trouble wrapping my brain around that lapboard thingy. How the hell is that going to be any good, I just don't get it. I mean, is the lower part in front or below and where does the lap goe ann uhh .... oh no, I've gone cross-eyed.
      • I like ripping on infinium as much as anyone, but unfortunatly, I think the part of that picture that looks like a wire is just a seam on the edge of that platform.

        Lord knows why there's a seam there, but I'm pretty sure it's not a wire.

        • Here's the original picture
          http://img.gamespot.com/gamespot/images/2006/news/ 01/03/phantom_screen001.jpg [gamespot.com]

          blow it up, play with the gamma settings and then hit the picture with a contrast enhance. That wire stands out very nicely.

          Tweak the original pic & decide for yourself. Recompressing jpegs usually introduces noise.
          • There's also very clearly a USB cable plugged into the top of the keyboard on the upper left side. So the mouse plugs into the keyboard and you only have to worry about keeping batteries charged in one device.

            I fail to see what the big deal is.
        • I think the part of that picture that looks like a wire is just a seam on the edge of that platform.

          Lord knows why there's a seam there, but I'm pretty sure it's not a wire.

          No, it's not a seam. I think it's an halibut.

      • My guess is that the mouse has a wire that attaches to the back of the keyboard, and the whole unit then wirelessly connects back to your computer.

        Typing at an angle does look really awkward though, especially for a keyboard that's going to be on your knees. My right wrist hurts just looking at it.
        • It's only at an angle until you buy Infinium shoes. The left shoe is 4" taller. Of course, the mousing surface won't be level then, so you'll have to buy the special angled Infinium chair. Only then will you realize that the chair negates the shoes, and the keyboard is once again at an angle, but by then you will have invested so much money into the whole thing that you'll just use it anyway.
      • Astroturfer^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Marketing drone^H^H^H^H^H expert: That's not a wire, that's just, um, the mouse's tail. Yes. The tail. Because mice have tails, right? Ahaha. Hey look, behind you, a three-headed monkey!

    • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

      by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:14PM (#14812162) Homepage Journal
      I used to accuse companies of such trickery, but then I got the all-new Infinium Labs Lapboard [infiniumlabs.com]. What makes the Infinium Labs Lapboard [infiniumlabs.com] very unique is that the keyboard can be angled upwards to create a surface for the mouse to operate on underneath. The Infinium Labs Lapboard [infiniumlabs.com] is also wireless and can operate at a distance of up to 30 feet. That's more than nine metres of connectivity, which is great because I can play games like Battlefield Earth 1942 with my Infinium Labs Lapboard [infiniumlabs.com] on my Microsoft Windows Media Centre Edition Personal Computer Powered by Gateway on my Gateway Enhanced Definition Plasma Television whilst sitting on my exquisite Ikea Spruengvar leather sofa. Check the Infinium Labs Lapboard [infiniumlabs.com] out right away.
      • I'm particulary happy to see that it's "very unique". That's so much better than boring old "unique".
  • Ha! (Score:3, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:02PM (#14812043) Journal
    This won't end well.

    Forum administrators hate it when people go into their forum and start shilling for some company.

    For their ad campaign to work, they're going to have to subvert members of the forum who have some credibility. A new account full of "this is teh c00l" posts is going to be ignored.
    • Re:Ha! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      In related news, I'm willing to sell my slashdot account to infinium. A 5 year old account with 2K comments and Excellent karma. All for the low, low price of $1 million US dollars. I believe this price is perfectly in line with their priorities, given their marketing budget is 10x their design budget.
    • The Infinium hardware is Da Bomb. I was showing the specs to the guys in study hall, and they were all jealous that I already had it on pre-order. Then some girls at the desk behind us saw the pictures of the hardware, and they said it looked sexy! W00T!

      Chech out teh awesom website! [infiniumlabs.com] W00T there it is!
      W00T there it is!
      W00T there it is!

    • Re:Ha! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mazarin5 ( 309432 )
      Appropriately, Slashdot's QOTM is:

      Reliable source, n.: The guy you just met.

    • Unfortunately, this happens every day even in major newspapers, not only on a community bulletin board. In fact, we're at the point where at least half the news you read are actually PR. In some cases, more.

      PR is a very insidious thing. They don't release outright ads, which people are already deveolopping a resistance too. They release stuff looking like genuine news, or like genuine buyer reviews.

      E.g., one such PR hack discussed on Slashdot was the _flood_ of news pieces saying that the suit is back, that
  • The best part is that anyone who gives the product legitimate positive feedback on a message board will now be met with a lot of skepticism. Even more than before, I mean.

    Way to shoot yourself in the foot...

    • This whole thing is now actually a good way to subvert the marketing campaigns of your competition - just start spreading rumours that their marketing campaigns involve paying people to say nice things about their products on forums. Any positive feedback, as you say, will then have a shadow of doubt cast over its authenticity.
  • They should start by campaigning on the Duke Nukem Forever forums.
  • Some companies might have second thoughts about sending virtual spambots to represent a poorly-marketed, largely-discredited, and a general laughingstock of a product.

    But not Infinium Labs.

    Well, gotta go. Time to go get ready to be influenced positively by the image-bombardment of 1-post members on my favorite gaming communities' forums!
  • Given its track record, when will we see the infiltration happening?
  • by hurfy ( 735314 )
    Seems like coming up with enough posts that won't get nuked by moderators (which forums allow blatant ads?) but somehow compel people to look might be tough. But hey, Anyone that can blow 62 million bucks with nothing to show for it can do anything i am sure :O

    Oh well guess those employees finally have to DO something after all this time....

    Funny thing is after all this, they have enough name recognition that it would probably sell itself if it's half as good as they think ;p
    • It has enough name recognition you can put one into a store behind the glass and there'd always be people around pointing and laughing or making "hell froze over" jokes.
  • I mean, Penny Arcade covered this kind of "shill-age" being performed by major companies days ago. They even made a comic [penny-arcade.com] about it. Really though, anyone surprised by this news story is woefully naive... speaking of which, anyone want to buy this golden bridge in San Fransico? Real cheap.
  • I think you are not giving Infinium Labs(TM) a fair chance. The company, founded in 2002 by Tim Roberts, is a shining example of what a gaming company should be. Take a few examples: When the company first announced a gaming console the entire community took notice gaining mention by many such luminaries as www.penny-arcade.com and www.hardocp.com They later developed a keyboard which is currently poised to change the way in which all people interact with computers; namely by allowing them to keep their
  • Because that's sure to net them some goodwill and customer loyalty.

    I was thinking maybe they could do the same thing by announcing a cool product and then selling it sometime shortly after that.
    • Because that's sure to net them some goodwill and customer loyalty.

      Now marketing classes weren't my fave, but don't you actually need a product and customers before building customer loyalty ?

  • My greatest fear in reviews begins to come into fruition... I've always loved customer reviews of stuff (like newegg, amazon, and even ePinions), since it can give a more joe schmoe look at the product, and it is not of a sample of the product that a manufacturer may have hand-picked and inspected for a reviewer to review because it will not have problems (it isn't always that way, but I'm sure sometimes it is). This ploy sounds border-line on this type of situation, and the only next step they could take
    • I've always loved customer reviews of stuff (like newegg, amazon, and even ePinions), since it can give a more joe schmoe look at the product, and it is not of a sample of the product that a manufacturer may have hand-picked and inspected for a reviewer to review because it will not have problems (it isn't always that way, but I'm sure sometimes it is).

      A wonderful notion, except that allowing you to post 3-5 sentences about the product on a web site hardly qualifies as a review. Most of the reviews I se
    • Not only are these posts filtered or have deliberate post plants, even joe schmoe will psychologically want to give glowing postive reviews immediately after buying something because they've just blown money on it and their minds don't want to accept that they've wasted their money. It's a subconscious self-rationalization that is fairly common. It also appears more often because these the ones that the sites want shown.

      When looking through user reviews, I only look at the negatives for a clue on what you m
  • So...is Slashdot the first stop? Remember, any press is good press, and right now they're reaching a LOT of readers, some of whom might potentially see one of these images and think to themselves, "hmm...this is the scummiest company on earth, and I hate how they are intentionally trying to subvert these gaming forums to reach me...but damn, thats a cool looking keyboard, I might have to buy it".

  • It seems to have gotten them on the front page of /. just fine.
  • Okay, so remember the old saying...no such thing as bad advertising? All these articles about the lapboard only makes it that much more popular and known. Maybe Slashdot should stop posting any articles for Infinium? Otherwise they'll never die!
  • lots of incomplete sentences?
  • This astro-turf style of marketing is already happening. I've run into at least one such user on my forum (not for Infinium, but for another product). They log into several forums, make some generic posts for a while (so people think they're just normal users) then, once they get the call to advertise a certain product, they do couple of "soft sell" posts saying how much they like a product.

    I got one that was a little too obvious, but I'm guessing there are a few more who play the game better (and I'm s

  • ...like this? [slashdot.org]
  • Aforementioned messages are rumored to be REALLY COOL sparking a revolution in video game forum messaging. Each post will, however, take the company 20 years to write, will cost millions in venture capital dollars and will turn out to be less interesting than other messages about the company posted when the original messages were announced.
  • Astroturfing is getting way too pervasive, take a look at the comments of people who LOVED "Date Movie" on IMDB:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0466342/usercomments?f ilter=love [imdb.com]

    If you look at most of the users who gave it 10, that's the only comment they made... so you'd have to believe that coming out of that movie, they were so overwhelmed that they ran home, and joined IMDB to rave about only that movie.

    The next step of course, is to make your astroturfing seem more realistic... over time give your co

  • Just go and check out the producers

    http://www.producersonbroadway.com/ [producersonbroadway.com]

    Replace the crappy play with the Phantom console and there you go

    "Based on real events" is in the titles now.

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson