Got a hot tip yesterday that this was coming. Kmart announced today during #gamerchat an interesting new (and likely industry and retail first) social media effort to bridge their online gaming community at MyKmart.com with off-line retail activity. Starting today, qualified reviews of games posted at MyKmart.com may start appearing along with the reviewed game on store shelves.
While I know gamers are a passionate and active online community, I don’t get a sense they’re overly active in retail store forums. The MyKmart.com site has a handful of reviews, but nothing in the volume you would see from a passionate community. Kmart is trying to build an environment for the gamers to connect in, which I admire. They spearheaded today’s first gamer chat on Twitter as well that saw some interest. Regardless of whether or not they’ll embrace Kmart’s effort to drive community around their passion, gamers take a lot of pride in their online connections and sharing reviews, tricks and tips and more around the games they play.
Now take that pride and let these guys and gals know their qualified review (there are some prerequisites, but nothing out of the ordinary) could help not only gamers, but mainstream non-gamers in knowing how good, bad or indifferent the games are? That’s a neat idea. They’ve used this to date by putting the customer reviews on the product page on Kmart’s website (not new). But putting customer reviews out in the open on the retail floor? First I’ve heard of it. Very cool.
Kmart is taking social capital produced online and bringing to to bear in a useful way off-line. But to take that notion one more step, they are providing useful information to their retail shoppers, generated by independent, third-party, but qualified sources that doesn’t necessarily affect sales of one game or another. (I’ve been told negative reviews will make the cut, too. We’ll see.)
This effort will be interesting to follow. Will negative reviews move through to the shelves? How will people react to it? Will it help sell more games? How will activity on MyKmart.com change?
Never know ’til you try. Good on ya, Kmart.