Marketing Fail

These video game trailers and screenshots aren't cutting it marketing departments.  They just don't work for me.  Take some notes.  Here we go:

New screenshots and trailers are released all the time for upcoming games, but they are not compelling.  I'm not buying it anymore.  As a gamer, all I want are hands-on impressions and videos with actual gameplay.  Think of all the trailers and videos that are released which are entirely CG cutscenes or quick cuts of in-game footage that only last for 2 seconds each.  This is entirely the wrong approach.

Games are not movies!  Marketing departments forget this.  Games are interactive!  Show me how I will be interacting with this game.  Don't show me the introductory video.  Don't show me a "badass" CG clip.  Don't show me a video that was made entirely for marketing purposes!  I want to know what the experience will be like once I get to the gameplay.  The meat of the game, as it were.

If you are showing me a pre-rendered CG movie then I equate it with the fact that you don't think the gameplay can stand on its own two feet.  That is the message you are sending.  If you take the tact of quickly cutting together 2 second shots to make a 30 second montage you are no better.  I didn't see your gameplay, all I saw was a flashy commercial.  Guess what you forgot?  That you are selling an interactive game, not a movie.

Want to see the right way to do it?  Look at StarCraft 2.  I know I have used this example before, but it bears spelling it out again.  The StarCraft 2 beta has no NDA which in effect allows gamers to talk, write, and make videos about the beta.  There is no Blizzard marketing department shoving pre-packaged 30 second commercials down our throats (yet) but there is still an enormous amount of community support and excitement about SC2's upcoming release.  Job well done.

Want to know another way to get people pumped for your game's release day?  Release the demo before the game comes out.  I can't believe how many companies put this off until months down the road.  If you want the demo to be effective it needs to arrive with all the other marketing efforts that happen around a game's release.  If your game has been out for a month and you are now releasing a demo for it you have already failed.

Learn your lesson marketing departments, gamers want to know about gameplay!  If we see a game that looks interesting we want to get our hands on it right away.  Don't make us watch a generic flashy video instead.


  1. FF13 is another story all together. Heavy Rain, that's movie like. It really depends on the game, but most games call for gameplay footage.

  2. I completely agree, I was recently thinking of buying Legend of Heracles, since the print ad/art style looked interesting. Took me WAY too long to get enough gameplay footage to realize that the ad art and the in-game graphics were really different.

    As for SC2, Blizzard is advertising it by showing matches between two people, through youtube etc. They know where their market is.

  3. For the purpose of promoting games, I think marketers are doing just fine.

    Take Modern Warfare. Excellent campaign and some of the TV spots barely even showed screenshots.

    Now that said, I think your spot on from a game evaluators point of view. If you are a consumer and want to know about a game, you want the "facts" and example of actual gameplay.

    But from a marketers perspective, if you have a crappy product, you want to promote it -- not give away trials. Particularly if someone trials it and says, "that sucks." Better to use pretty little screenshots and wait till you buy it before exposing you to the fact it sucks.

    The problem here is that you expect the game developer to act in a way that is rational to the consumer. When, in truth, the dev just wants to sell games by any means possible.

  4. Sid, I totally understand that side of it. If they have an inferior product they will obviously want to cover it up while marketing the game.

    But, as a gamer I still wish they went about it differently.


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