I know, for example, that if you’ve got a big enough brand you can pretty much release what you like, when you like and it’ll make a big splash with your core audience.
I know that it makes sense to announce that there’s going to be a formal announcement on a certain date.
That gets you two fumbles under the jumper of the promiscuous mistress that is hype.
I know a fifteen second teaser for a proper trailer that won’t be out for another week is enough to bring your most dedicated fans to a squealing climax. If your fans are real nutjobs, they might even film it and post it on YouTube, giving your campaign an extra degree of viral appeal.
While we’re on that subject, isn’t it odd that marketing people have invested so strongly in “going viral” in recent years? I mean, what other walk of life would something “viral” be considered a good thing?
“Oh, hello Trevor, that’s a nasty rash you’ve got there.”
“Yeah, it’s really painful and it oozes a greenish yellow liquid at night that smells really bad. My wife’s left me and she’s taken the kids. They just couldn’t live with my grotesque appearance any longer. It’s going to kill me eventually, you know?”
“Really, Trev? That’s a shame. Still, with any luck, it’ll go viral and we’ll all get it, eh?”
“HAHA! Yeah, I hope so. God, it’s so painful, I really hope all my loved ones get to experience this! Let’s send them some scrapings in the post!”
Sorry, I got a little bit distracted there. Man, I hope Trevor makes a full recovery. No, actually, I don’t. We’re all better off without gawping morons like him and his friend who I couldn’t even be bothered imagining a name for.
Anyway, back on topic. I know something else about the modern marketing merry-go-round: it bloody well works.
This is all inspired by Grand Theft Auto V and its protracted teasing of images which were all building up to yesterday’s exclusive deal with GameInformer to put some actual information about the game in their magazine. I imagine that the deal is sweetened with some extra GameStop (GameInformer’s parent company) loving at retail but I don’t know that for sure and I think that’s one of the “intricacies” I’d rather not know about – the perception of game critics’ editorial/PR relationship is grubby enough at the moment.
Well, I’ve been growing increasingly cynical about the whole thing for weeks. You see, I really love Grand Theft Auto. I finally caved and bought my PlayStation 3 at the time I did specifically because I couldn’t bear not playing GTA IV any longer (it had been out for about a week). I spent countless hours with all of the previous games in the series on PlayStation and PlayStation 2 and although it wasn’t as maniacally fun as its predecessors, GTA IV occupied a large chunk of my life.
So the reveal video was very exciting. Just knowing that the next big GTA game was on the way is a bit of a thrill. Knowing that it’s going back to the west coast, seeing jetskis and helicopters, imagining motorbikes and gangs and bank heists. It was all very exciting. But the ensuing drip-feeding of a few images every now and then? A single piece of artwork once in a while? That has been tedious.[drop]My cynicism has increased with every lonely render they put out. I’ve become more jaded with every single bit of block-shaded artwork that arrives. Oh, a car spinning its wheels. Lovely. A tennis club. Brilliant. A high powered rifle. Ace. A female cop arresting a woman. Good one.
It’s all so tedious and predictable and meaningless. It’s almost entirely without relevance. What bearing does one piece of artwork have on the game? Well, we dissect each one, we fantasise about its meaning and the details we can see in the backdrop.
Dogs! Bicycles! Jets! Parachutes!
For me, that lengthy cycle of carefully managed access to images and the speculation about what those images might mean for a game, which some of them have little actual attachment to, has been dull. But, and this is the important bit, it hasn’t quite been so dull that I lost interest completely.
Rockstar took me to the brink of hitting the snooze button before the alarm went off on GTA V. Now the cat has slipped its bindings and sprung forth, into the world: we know some things about the game itself. Sure, it’s still all carefully controlled on message generalities but it’s substantial information we didn’t have before. I’m sure the trickling of snippets of vague information will be back soon enough.
For now, though, there are real facts to think about.
And I’m excited all over again.