The Minecraft generation is your future customer. So how will you engage the new media consumer?
I love the puzzles that my kids present. There’s so much from the way they learn and interact that – well if I’m honest yes can make me feel quite human – but which also inspires me every day.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “my-kids-are-my-Oscars-speech” articles. It’s about the simple fact that in the same way I preferred guitars and rock music to Gardeners Question Time and Vivaldi, my children’s generation has their own way of kicking back and consuming. Each successive generation disrupts the norm.
Obviously as a father I want to wrap my head around this to ensure I always keep the maximum lines of communication open with my young ones. I’m naturally interested to see what stimulates them and what makes them happy. But it also matters because how they communicate and interact is quite literally how our future customers will communicate and interact. And what really blows me away is how discerning they are as consumers.
You may have come across Minecraft. It’s quite amazing. Players build blocks and create amazing structures (though at first there’s an element of battling nocturnal baddies) in virtual worlds. They can play solo or cooperate online. They’ll even watch YouTube videos or live casting of other people playing it. Well over 20 million people have bought the PC/Mac version of the game, but you can also get it for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Steam, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Amazon Kindle Fire. My son loves it – and he’ll think nothing of playing with people in different countries, communicating via voicechat and merrily staying up all night.
Engaging the new media consumer
Aside from wishing that we’d thought of it first and wondering how to invest, what can we learn? For me, the most powerful thing is that it shows the platform is suddenly irrelevant. The Minecraft generation – and their peers – are increasingly device agnostic. When I grew up you were either a Commodore C64 chap or a ZX Spectrum kind of guy (and now enjoying a revival), then an Atari or an Amiga head. Big brands thrive on this kind of rivalry.
Now though, the loyalty – and the snob value – is applied more to the product than to the hardware. For players (or customers) it’s simply a question of choosing the best tools for the job, ensuring that their game (or solution) will work on as many platforms as possible. This kind of flexibility isn’t just expected, it’s assumed. So for us, the challenge is to do our best to make sure we meet that demand and have the confidence to keep things open.
The next generation will always challenge its predecessor.
But rather than beat them down, it’s the job of the incumbents to let that happen, to use wisdom and experience to give them the tools and expertise to make their own place in the world and take things forward for all of us.