Getting your game noticed isn’t always easy. Limited advertising budgets can often mean that developers and publishers are forced to try to find alternative, cheaper ways to get themselves and their games out there into an ever increasingly crowded market.
For gamers in the know, it’s easy enough to keep an eye on what’s due out each week, but how many of us know which digital download titles are released when, and at what cost? Even though PlayStation now detail each week’s Store output, a title can be lost in the list and forgotten forever.
For some developers – indie ones in particular – getting a game onto the PlayStation Plus promotion can be crucial, and more so than you might think.[videoyoutube]”Being on PlayStaton Plus has been great for us,” says Futurlab’s James Marsden, developers of minis hit Velocity.
“As a relatively unknown studio with limited (zero) marketing budget, we’d have found it very hard to achieve an install base of 100,000 units and more, but with PlayStation Plus we achieved that in just over a fortnight.”
Impressive figures, but the game was available free to Plus subscribers – so what’s in it for the developer? Officially details are kept confidential, but we assume that there’s enough in it for both parties to make it a worthwhile venture, and allowing the studios to concentrate on the game.
And the knock-on effects can be hugely positive. If a Plus offer expires, gamers will have heard about the title and are generally more likely to go looking for it and buy it, and then there’s always the chance that if they like the game they’ve downloaded, they’ll look for others from the same developer.
“The word now appears to be spreading,” confirmed James when we spoke to him last, “and gamers have also discovered our previous title Coconut Dodge, which has seen a significant sales boost!”
“We see Plus as a great opportunity for our publishing partners as well as our consumers,” said Ross McGrath, SCEE’s PlayStation Plus Product Manager to TheSixthAxis.
“For publishers, Plus opens up new revenue streams via an alternative business model, marketing and promotional opportunities across all PlayStation channels, as well as promoting brand awareness and franchise engagement.”
And for the customer? “We simply wanted to build a great value proposition with the Instant Game Collection – more than 45 quality games for around the price of a single Blu-ray, in addition to hundreds of pounds of savings and exclusive features”
It sounds like PR talk, but it’s technically true, as others will confirm.
“Being on PlayStation Plus in Europe has been a great experience,” agreed Stewart Gilray, CEO of Just Add Water, whose Stranger’s Wrath HD was part of the recent Plus promotion unveiled at E3. “It’s raised the awareness of the game and of us,” he told TheSixthAxis. “We’ve seen great feedback and that’s been very encouraging for us.”
Naturally, it’s not just the indies that benefit from being part of the deal. For established publishers with top tier titles that have ceased selling months ago, the added exposure to the brand can be invaluable. For example, THQ’s inclusion of both Warhammer 40,000 and Darksiders will surely see a knock on effect when the sequel to the latter releases soon.
Gamers will be familiar with the IP, and that’s only a good thing for a publisher releasing a title into the market. It’s free advertising, of a style, and the benefit surely outweighs the fact that the games are being given away for nothing.[drop]Mike Kebby, Digital Campaigns Manager at SEGA Europe, only has great things to say about the way PlayStation Plus-promoted games can reach a wider audience.
“With Virtua Fighter we know we have a franchise with an extremely hardcore following, but we really wanted to ensure that we introduced the latest iteration [VF5: Final Showdown] to as many new players as possible,” he told us.
“We’ve found that PlayStation Plus was a perfect way to do this, as well as ensure we made a big noise about the title’s release, it’s great to reach out to lots of potential new fans,” he continued.
“VF5: Final Showdown has done very well for us since launch, and we’re glad to have continued our strong relationship with SCE by offering it to PS Plus subscribers for free.”
It appears that the numbers can be substantial, too, and in the case of Renegade Ops, close to the sort of figures the game did at launch. “We can see that our multiplayer mode is starting to hit peaks similar to those at launch,” said Kebby. “It’s extremely important for a title like Renegade Ops to engage the online player-base, where the main focus, and most fun way of playing it, is to connect with friends online.”
Plus is a major part of Sony’s PlayStation strategy – it was heavily hinted at before E3 and going forward is arguably massive value for gamers. Just now you can grab the likes of LittleBigPlanet 2 and other AAA first party games as part of a monthly subscription, and the deals normally associated with the scheme are starting to appear on the Vita, too.
It’s encouraging to read that developers are coming off better as well as gamers, something that we don’t see often enough. It also appears to forge close relationships between the platform holder and studios, and hopefully that’ll ultimately mean more free games for us.