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Published October 17th 2014

A Tale of Two Tech Giants: Why You Can’t Always Trust The Buzz Alone

Estimating how a product will fare in its market before its release is vital to every product launch. Understanding the buzz surrounding Xbox One and PS4 ...

Estimating how a product will fare in its market before its release is vital to every product launch, allowing you to work out ROI, stock levels, distribution, pricing strategies and so on and so forth.

Traditionally, companies went to potential customers to test their shiny new products and gauge how they would field in the real world. For example, Google Glass allowed fans to buy their beta product for £1,000. That’s right, £1,000 for an unfinished product.


Gaming gossip

Today, you don’t have to go and pick a customer’s brain in order to see what they think of an idea. You can listen to their opinions online.

Our Consumer Tech Report talks through some analysis we compiled on two video games released earlier this year. We monitored both for the 20 weeks between announcement and the product launch.

However, we didn’t just look at the amount of conversation surrounding the games, we also looked at the how much of that conversation expressed an interest in buying the product – an intent to purchase mention.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.10.25 AM

During the 20 week run-up from announcement to launch, Game 1 generated the majority of mentions.

It received huge spikes in buzz following the announcement, trailers and demo launch, culminating in a total of 70,143 online mention about the game.

Game 2, on the other hand, struggled to conjure the same quantity of conversation.

Relatively small spikes were generated by trailers and IGN previews culminating in a total of 30,456 pre launch mentions – a shortfall of 39,687 when compared to Game 1.

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The intent to purchase

However, the data also revealed that while Game 2 was discussed far less online, the intent to purchase language within those mentions was actually far higher than Game 1.

Despite the intense media coverage, press reviews, and general interest surrounding Game 1, it only generated a total of 1295 intent to purchase mentions. 

Game 2, with less coverage and less general discussion, managed to generate almost triple Game 1’s chatter with 4012 intent to purchase mentions. 



After carefully monitoring the sales of both games during the first week after release, we saw that the intent to purchase mentions gave a reliable indication to the actual sales.

  • Game 1 – generated 300,000 sales (1295 intent to purchase mentions).
  • Game 2 – generated 650,000 sales (4012 intent to purchase mentions).

Evidently, simply monitoring buzz was not enough to make confident predictions of a product’s success.

This type of data can be invaluable to those brands planning on releasing a new product. If intent to purchase mentions are low, then they have a chance to adapt and react before the product is released.

The Microsoft mistake

Microsoft proved covering your ears from customers online opinions can be extremely damaging with its management of the Xbox One release.

When the console was originally announced back in May 2013, many conflicting reports about DRM from Microsoft executives during interviews throughout the day gave an extremely unclear message.

Some execs said the console required an online check-in once every 24 hours, some said you could no longer sell used games, others said you could sell used games but for a fee.

There wasn’t a clear message, and the reaction from the most vocal of consumers was overwhelmingly negative.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.31.31 AM

Sony – developer of Xbox One’s prominent rival Playstation – added fuel to the already burning fire by bragging about their own policies for the PS4, which Sony said would not restrict the sale of used games or require an internet connection.

Microsoft eventually reversed their DRM strategy, canned many of the features and rewrote a clear message. 

By this time, plenty of damage had been done, and with just months until its release, Microsoft had delayed so long that Sony had generated a significant reputational advantage.


What can we learn from this?

Similarly to the video game example – sales figures for Xbox One have been bad reading for Microsoft executives with the numbers suggesting that the PS4 had sold almost double the number of Xbox One units.

Both of these example show that listening early and digging deep when analyzing online conversation is vital to successful product launch. Moreover, setting up a flexible strategy that adapts to any insights of this kind, will shield brands from causing this irreversible damage.

Learn more about this in detail and check out other tech related social insights in our latest report:

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