The sound comes first, a big booming voice trying to overcome a cacophony of exterior noise. Pounding on a barred oak door, the smashing of stain glass windows mixed with the screaming of frightened people hiding in a church. This is the new trailer to promote the second instalment in the Darksiders franchise. With any follow up title there are extended opportunities for marketing departments to exploit and the team at THQ have been going all out to get this IP into gamer’s consciousness.
This trailer described is a live action promo although not new, shows a different angle on the way trailers are used to promote titles. The Imagery and sound are used to convey desperation and the epic nature of the developer’s vision. You are supposed to feel emotion when playing titles such as this and the trailer helps to get that point across. Mix this with the use of a famous actor in this case James Cosmo from HBO’s Game of Thrones and you have a guaranteed way to fix your product in your consumer’s minds.
Trailers may they be live action or gameplay are an established promotional tool. Trade shows such as E3 are filled with developers showing their wears allowing the assembled media a glimpse of how a game feels and looks. The hope for the marketing push is that the journalists will then report favourably to their readership and so raise the profile of their title. However with readership of print media dropping, the question must be asked is this enough to guarantee full exposure?
In a highly competitive market companies have to develop increasingly ingenious ways to raise awareness of their forthcoming titles. As Darksiders 2 is a second instalment it has allowed the publisher a new form of marketing in the form of Playstation Plus. Sony’s membership service is offering a huge array of free games in the next year helping to attract new subscribers and keep their existing base. Wars initial foray into a Demon infested world was one of the rollout offerings of the new free game package. The economics of which may not seem sound until you start to look at the bigger picture of what THQ are trying to achieve.
The Publisher is hoping this giveaway will create an install base from their first title and carry that over to the second game. Due to its 2010 release date the free title is not full price in most stores and so THQ are losing little in sales of the first instalment, rather they are hoping their revenue will increase as people will enjoy the game and then make a purchase of the follow up.
The other reason for the placement of the Game within the free realm is the modern trend of social media. When you are playing a game while online your friends are able to see the title you are active in. This then leads to the inevitable question ‘What’s it like?’ Allowing the player to become a games critic with a healthy dose of good will and so helping to solidify a positive response for your title. Add Facebook, Twitter and other forms of communication into the mix and you can have a relatively labour easy promotional tool.
This form of promotion will only work if the title is up to scratch and not every game will benefit from this type of scheme. For those titles strong enough to survive under scrutiny there is a new way to spread the word. It may mean forgoing immediate returns but as long as your product is strong enough the rewards will hopefully be there in the end.