Advertisements are a huge part of our lives. Every day we are bombarded by dozens if not hundreds of ads telling us to buy one product or another. Of course, video games are no exception. Over the last console generation, the amount of money a company is willing to spend to advertise a video game has gone through the roof. Activision with the Call of Duty franchise in particular has spent millions of dollars on them, even inserting ads into high-profile NBA and NFL games to sell their games to as many people as they can.
Call of Duty: Black Ops sold millions of copies on the first day of its release, making Activision over $300 million in one day. The game went on to make the company over $1 billion by the end of 2010. Today, it stands as the highest selling game of all time. Clearly, advertising worked out for them.
So why then didn’t they do the same with 2010’s Singularity? This FPS by Raven Software shared some similarities with Call of Duty games, mostly in the controls, but instead focused on a more intriguing and time-travel focused single player experience. It came out in the game-light month of June, months from the release of Black Ops. By targeting the same audience with ads, they might have roped a few gamers into a purchase, something to do during the doldrums of summer.
But they didn’t do this. In fact, advertising for Singularity was practically non-existent, aside from a few game trailers in the weeks up to its release. Anyone who wasn’t a game enthusiast most likely didn’t even notice it release and even some of them probably had it slip under their radar. Lack of word-of-mouth hurt the game’s sales; it barely broke 30,000 copies in its first month. It wasn’t necessarily because of the game’s quality either, as it boasts a respectable 76 on Metacritic (Xbox 360 version).
Why did this game tank so badly? Were all those reviewers wrong? Did the game’s summer release cripple its performance? Or was the lack of advertisement entirely to blame? As a video game enthusiast myself, I can’t always understand the importance of advertising, since I always know what is coming out and what I want to buy. Poor sales of games I enjoyed, like Singularity, always make me reevaluate the value of some commercials for a game’s well-being.
X-Men: Destiny is supposedly coming out tomorrow on each of the current consoles, published by Activision. I was surprised by this fact because I haven’t heard anything substantial about it for months, after being a bit excited when it was announced. A few trailers were released on the 23rdbut they didn’t make much of a splash on the major video game news sites and surely haven’t gotten around to anyone who isn’t somewhat interested in the game. Sound familiar?
Is the situation with Singularity happening all over again? X-Men is certainly a brand name that is recognized by the average person but it seems like this game is being pushed out the door without a second thought. Early word of mouth seems shaky and developer Silicon Knights’ (makers of Too Human) pedigree doesn’t give me much confidence. All I know for now is I can’t wait to see the game sales numbers next month…
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!