Avatar Day Fail

We reported last week on a special promotion for James Cameron’s upcoming 3D sci-fi epic Avatar, where 20th Century Fox would hold one day of special 20-minute screenings for fans.

The movie has been hyped to no end, and the buzz has only been growing as its mid-December release approaches.  So if you offer a bunch of free tickets to limited screenings across the country, you d expect a lot of traffic, right?

Unfortunately, when the clock hit noon Pacific Time on Monday and the Avatar preview ticket site opened, thousands of fans were unable to actually see the site.  Either the pages were loading but there was no theater information, or a general server error would appear.

In any case, the reaction was swift and brutal from the movie fan community.

From Ain t It Cool News talkback: {link no longer active}

I tried FireFox & Safari. Nothing. There’s no list of theaters. If it was a plug-in that I don’t have, I would see a broken link somewhere. But nothing. Now, I’m getting connection time-outs. Disappointing, Mr Cameron, disappointing.

All this hype for a sh***y website. Good job Avatar.

Fox dropped the ball on this one

avatar day = fail

Reaction on Twitter {link no longer active} was just as negative, but today the problem seems to have been fixed {link no longer active}.  As we all know, though, 24 hours on the Internet is a lifetime.

The moral of the story?   If you’re expecting visitors, make sure you can handle all of them!

Modern Warfare 2 Comic Book

From Big Download:

DC Comics’ Wildstorm division has been taking the lead on releasing a number of game-based comics lately including World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Prototype, Mirror’s Edge, Gears of War and others. Now it looks like Wildstorm will be releasing a mini-series based on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The diversification of gaming’s biggest brands continues with Activision’s push of Modern Warfare 2 into comics territory.

Because the mediums share a similar hardcore demographics (young males), are these efforts going to pay off, or are you just talking to the same exact audience who already knows your brand?

Then again, taking a look at the Xbox Live most played chart for last week, Call of Duty 4 and 5 are in top three (Halo 3 is still the number one game). Maybe this is all about extending the brand since those games have an insanely long shelf life thanks to their multiplayer components.

 

360 Price Going Up, PS3 Price Going Down

It looks like Sony has finally pulled the trigger and taken the price of the standard PlayStation 3 console down by $100, to an MSRP of $299.  This move was widely anticipated, and should help console sales entering the holiday season.

Going in the completely opposite direction, Eurogamer is reporting the price of Xbox 360 s in the United Kingdom are actually going up by around £30, due in large part to the weakening of the pound sterling to the U.S. dollar.

A tale of two marketing problems — we d rather take the account with the price cut hardware, thank you very much.

Video Of The Day: Rally Rally Good

Dirt 2 is looking like one of the must-have racers of the year, and it’s in no small part due to the phenomenal visuals of the game.  Our video of the day comes from their viral marketing efforts in showing everyone just how good the game looks by splicing real world video with in-game footage.

Can you tell what’s real and what’s not?

AFK: The Game Factory

If you’ve ever wondered how the golden rings of Sonic the Hedgehog are made, or who crafts the thousands of blocks used in a game of Arkanoid, wonder no longer.

Photographer Marc Da Cunha Lopes shows us a fantastic look inside a game factory where all of these items are made.  Jaw-droppingly awesome.

[Via Offworld] {link no longer active}

1 Vs. 100 Season Finale

From Xbox 360 Press:

In fact, up to 200,000 people tune in to play 1 vs 100 on Xbox LIVE every day around the globe. Yes, every single day! In one evening alone, more than 215,000 people in Europe and 230,000 in people North America dressed their Avatars to compete in 1 vs 100.

And, up to 114,000 contestants have competed simultaneously in 1 vs 100 Live shows in North America, effectively beating the Guinness Book of World Record holder in the most game show contestants – single TV show category. Up to 79,000 contestants have competed simultaneously in 1 vs 100 Live shows in the UK and Ireland.

The Xbox 360 1 Vs. 100 shows were an interesting experiment, noth in gaming and in marketing.  Events would take place every weekend, with a live host joining in on the action.

Prizes would be given out to top players, and this season is wrapping up with a few guests, including nerd goddess Felicia Day and Shadow Complex creative director Donald Mustard — David Letterman, this is not.

It is a great look at how many people would get together for a concerted event, as the game wasn t playable any time, whenever you wanted.  Gamers actually had to wait for the shows to start at regular 30-minute intervals that would normally take place from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.

If these numbers are correct, it proves that gamers will indeed wait for a more communal experience (the live shows are truly innovative), and they’ll even watch advertising while doing so (Sprint is this season s main sponsor, with video commercials running a few times per show).

Check it out this weekend before the season wraps up.  We ll be curious to see how quickly this comes back, and if Microsoft finds it successful enough to try other games in this format.

The Next Gaming Sex Symbol

Kotaku has a nice write-up on a recent Bayonetta showcase in New York City:

The last time, I had a reporter sit next to me, watch Bayonetta high-kick and unwrap her skin-tight (made of hair!) outfit so she could turn it into a giant boot weapon, and he said: “I really like the glasses.” She’s got the sexy librarian glasses, you see.

After that last demo, a Sega public relations person asked me if I thought Bayonetta had potential as a crossover character. Maybe, I said, though her game might make her too weird a persona to bring her to that Lara Croft virtual celebrity status. Croft’s Indiana Jones in a porn star’s body and short shorts. Bayonetta fights angels to a jazzy soundtrack while colorful butterfly imagery springs off her body.

What’s Bayonetta’s potential There is no other female game character that I’ve observed elicit such a reaction from my reporting peers, and it’s not like she’s been the only one of such gender, measurements and posture to possibly draw such comments.

One answer could lie in the fact that, the better you do at killing people, the less clothes she ends up wearing.  Sega is publishing this title for a holiday release, and we’re still on the fence about the potential success of this game.

Does anyone remember Bloodrayne   The main character there had crossover potential that meted out to an abysmal, straight-to-DVD release, and is now just an afterthought.

The problem will come in marketing a ridiculously-dressed (not that it’s bad) ass-kicking lady that has the potential to get naked with every combo you execute.  We d probably stick with some R-rated theatrical trailers that let her loose (and make it onto YouTube) than heavily-edited commercials that will make this look like just another heroine game.

This should also give us all a chance to see how much impact word of mouth and the blogosphere have on one game s release.  Could be great (District 9), but there’s always the chance to overvalue the Internet’s opinion (Snakes on a Plane).

Xbox 360 Failure Rate Huge, But Customers Don’t Mind

From The Consumerist:

The poorly manufactured, red ring of death-prone console has a 54.2 percent failure rate, compared to 10.6 percent for the PS3 and the Wii’s 6.8 percent.

The most shocking number from the survey and frightening from a consumer perspective is only 3.8 percent of Xbox 360 owners said they’d never buy another Xbox because of hardware failure.

Let s repeat those numbers.  54 percent of Xbox 360 s failed in this survey, but only 4 percent of those people would never buy another Xbox.

Is this a testament to great software, great features, great marketing, or mass psychosis   We’ll go for a combination of all of the above.

EyePet Box Art Drops PlayStation 3 Brand

Kotaku reports:

The box art for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s EyePet recently made its way out to retailers like Amazon.co.uk a new branding treatment for PlayStation 3 games that downplays the console’s previous branding. In particular, the “PlayStation 3” portion.

Taking a look at the box art, the only mention of PlayStation 3 comes along the top edge of the box, in a transparent etching.  The only PlayStation logos given prominent color treatment are for PlayStation Network and the general PlayStation brand (now a sleek silver than the multicolored kind that has been with PlayStation since day one).

We ll be curious to see if the very subtle PlayStation 3 branding continues to carry favor with PS3 games, and if this foreshadows a larger push towards the PlayStation brand rather than the PS3 one.

Project Natal + Classic Rare IP = World-Beating Product

Videogamer.com recently interviewed executives at Rare, and boy do they know how to hype up a product years in advance of its release.

[Design director George] Andreas said: Natal as well gives us an opportunity to maybe at some point in the future investigate some of those older IPs. I won t name names.

One in particular actually I think we can do an absolutely phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal version on with Natal. The interface, the way you interact with it I think it would be an absolutely world-beating product. But we need to explore a little bit more in that direction.

Our guess will be a virtual fighter like Killer Instinct, which has been one of those IPs many hardcore gamers want.  Those hardcore gamers tend to be your early adopters and the way to start word of mouth, so Killer Instinct seems like a natural fit.

We just like Andreas response and how it strikes just the right tone between fanboyism, elitism and hype.  That combination always seems to do well on video game sites.