Do Games Need Proper Marketing to be Successful?
by ZackC on May 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT

Games as of late are being advertised earlier and earlier. For some games this is not a bad thing. For game franchisees that have not established themselves, announcing and hyping games more then 2 months in advance will doom the game.  By making gamers only wait 2 months at the most, the game companies don’t raise expectations to unobtainable heights.

For most games, this would be referring to games that are not a part of big franchises, that are hyped roughly 2 months before release. This is because games that are not proven to be great ,will be forgotten if they are hyped too early, or will disappoint the gamers. Disappointed gamers is a death sentence for that specific title.

The idea behind hyping games early is so that people will want to play it. If a developer hypes a game to much, it may turn out to be disappointing. A perfect example of this would be Brutal Legend even though the game was fun, most people thought it was going to be way better then what they experienced. Most games that are over-hyped get tossed right into the discount bin and are never heard from again. The only company that is exempt from over hyping is Blizzard.  They announced that Diablo 3 was under development for a long time, and Blizzard has constantly been promoting the game since then with small announcements such as character designs and screenshots.

Games that are a part of big franchises, like Call of Duty, or Halo can be promoted months in advance. This is because they are already established as solid games. These franchises have shown us that they can make great games, the community will wait almost an indefinite amount of time. Look at Starcraft 2, the promotion of which started in 2007, when Blizzard announced that it was being produced.  StarCraft 2 was released in 2010, 3 years after it was announced, and almost 12 years after the release of Starcraft Brood War came out, and fans were still really excited about it coming out.

I feel the correct way to market a game would be to produce an announcement trailer telling people that the game is under development, and to allow people to see the direction the game is going. Then at about 2 months out, produce another set of trailers, showing a little bit of the plot and developing the characters. Then at a month out, release a trailer showing game play.  With this sort of set up, the game gets prolonged hype, keeping the community wanting more of the game, while not prolonging the wait time for the game.

Game developers should shorten the duration of time that they dedicate to promoting the game. Over promoting can cause a community backlash that can hurt the game. If developers and publishers only promote the game 2 months before the game comes out, they will have people wanting to play the game and then scrambling to buy it when it comes out.

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  • Joe

    The problem with Brutal Legend wasn’t that it wasn’t fun, it’s just that it was different from what was advertised. People were expecting a game which was, in gameplay terms, very simple and easy to play, like Psychonauts. The game they got was nothing of the sort – it ramped up to large scale action battles which were extremely fun and gratifying, but tricky to manage until you know what you’re doing.

    But because of the game’s advertising, people were not only angry at getting a much more gameplay oriented game than they were expecting, but ended up getting the wrong idea of how to play too – the battles came across as ‘RTS sections’, isolated from the rest of the gameplay, when in reality the point of them was as a culmination of all the gameplay mechanics of the rest of the game.

    So yeah – in answer to the article’s title, yes, games need proper marketing: marketing that actually advertises the game as it is rather than pretending it’s something different.

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