Friday, November 20, 2009

Big Business Impacts On Gaming

The recent news that Dante's Inferno the upcoming beat-em up hack 'n slasher has again pulled a PR stunt is shocking to me. PR Stunts are not new to the gaming industry but they usually are limited to one choice stunt at an event and then the game is usually out. But with Dante's Inferno over the past year I can count up several PR stunts that have brought this game to my attention over and over again. Maybe thats precisely what they want, I mean I honestly would not care at all about the game otherwise. But now I'm thinking about the game too much. Such that I'm thinking, if this game needs this much coverage just to attract people to it, what is the real story about this game's development? 

The question I'd like to address is the notion that EA is attempting to beat their competition through pure publicity? At the end of the day Dante's Inferno could be good, or mediocre but will it come close to matching the craze that is God of War III, its key competition. And do not forget there is only a month between the two titles, with Dante this February and Kratos in March, you can bet your dog/cat that EA knows they are taking on the champ in the ring in 2010. But is this how you do it?

There was a point in the gaming industry when you became a best seller by making the best possible game, but is that point long gone now. When Ubisoft brags about how great the Imagine series of DS games sells in spite of the dreadful quality capitalizing upon a  market that can't tell a Mad Dog McCree from a Half-Life? It feels like EA have capitulated to the line that their marketing department fed them: "You can't make a better game than Santa Monica, but we can sell a game better than they can." I mean I cannot understand any other reason why they would waste so much time and effort on cheap (that snag a photo of your act of lust was nothing else) ploys that accomplish nothing beyond proving that there is no such thing as bad advertisement. 

This is a troubling concept to me. Does this mean that in the future more publishers will adopt the attitude of marketing the game harder than the other guy? We know it works in other mediums, otherwise how would trash like Transformers, Robert Langdon novels, Twilight, and the current Disney music act of the week; rise above content that is genuinely moving their mediums forward (or at very least asking questions or their readers/listeners/viewers and making them think about the content before them). Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe the crap I just listed is popular because I am out of sync with quality entertainment today. But then again, I'm pretty sure anyone who has to used marketing ploys to push their game/movie/book is not concerned about pushing a medium forward (hell probably dont even care about keeping it lateral) and just want to make some money. Actually not even make some money, they want to make assloads of money, more than anyone else, they want good reviews also, but not because they want their game to be enjoyable for those who play it, but rather because good reviews are a means to an end. Good reviews = easier to sell the product with a shiny sticker that says "Indigenous Gaming Newts calls it spittle inducing good times!".

Course I could be wrong, and Dante's Inferno was alloted a shit load of cash the developers didn't need, so they authorized crap loads of tacky and blatant PR stunts to burn through that wad of cash. It could happen. 

And in comic book stuff: Rage of the Red Lanterns is pretty awesome, can't wait for Blackest Night when the collections start to come out next year. 
That will be all. See you in a few months.