Why Did Sony Ditch The Spider-Man Font?

Kaz Hirai, head of SCEA, recently sat down with Times Online to answer a few questions about the new, redesigned PlayStation 3.  One of the big changes seen in the marketing and messaging was an emphasis on the brand PS3, with the PlayStation 3 Spider-Man font not seen at all.

Turns out it wasn’t just because that font was fugly, but the word PlayStation made the entire logo less than legible.

From the Times Online interview:

[Question:] Talking of form and design, I see you’ve ditched the Spider-man typeface from the new PlayStation?
[Hirai:] We wanted to make sure that we set a new direction for the PS3. The PS logo with the capital P and small S has always been our logo, has always been synonymous with video games and I wanted to reset the thinking. Also internally I wanted to send the message internally that we are resetting the thinking, going back to our roots. What better way to do it than by resetting the logo? That puts the entire organisation on its toes. On a practical level, when you have PlayStation 3 spelt out, the aspect ratio was such that if you wanted it on a billboard it became tiny. It didn’t work in terms of visibility.

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Marketing Key To Resident Evil 5’s Success

Reprinted with permission from IndustryGamers {link no longer active}

We recently reported on new findings from the folks at EEDAR. The firm’s latest report, revealed this week during the [a]list Summit by Ayzenberg Group, showed that the top 10 selling games this year through June have been mostly dominated by older titles like Wii Fit or Mario Kart Wii. There were a few exceptions, and Capcom’s blockbuster Resident Evil 5 was one of the big ones. The game is second in sales this year so far, only to Wii Fit. In fact, it’s sold close to 2 million in the U.S. and around 5 million globally, making it the most successful entry in the franchise yet.

So what did Capcom do differently this time Besides the fact that they made a very good game, the marketing team really kicked it up a notch prior to launch, and this was critical to the title’s success, EEDAR points out.

“RE5 demolished sales comparatively to any other RE game… and obviously there was the movie that came out [Resident Evil: Extinction] and to an extent I think that helped, but you have to look at why this RE really broke out. Was it because this was just the right time for zombies (Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, zombies in Call of Duty: World at War, etc.) Maybe, but I think their marketing campaign was really pushing the zombie element and getting people really excited about it. I think they just nailed an exciting zombie game with a mature franchise and a very experienced marketing team,” EEDAR executive chairman Greg Short told us.
Capcom had a great Kijuju viral marketing campaign, and the company also did a great job pushing trailers. Getting trailers in front up consumers’ eyes leading up to launch is always a good way to spark interest and potentially increase sales, and Capcom did just that. Indeed, Short pointed out that, according to GameTrailers.com StreamStats, RE5 saw 24.5 million media views, easily topping other big games like Capcom’s own Street Fighter IV (17.5 million media views) and Sony’s Killzone 2 (17 million media views).

“I think what’s interesting is we’re starting to see companies understanding that you really do need to spend money – from a marketing budget perspective – if you want people to get very excited about your game. There are so many games out there that are only spending $1.5-$3.0 million on their marketing campaign. And they’ll spend $20 million developing their game, but when it comes time to get consumers to chatter about it, they kind of trip over the finish line,” Short commented. “It’s so different from Hollywood and the percentage they spend from their marketing budgets compared to what the development budget is. In some cases, 20-30 percent of the production budget goes toward marketing, just getting people aware and excited. So what stands out to me for RE5 is they did the right marketing campaign and they put the right amount of money behind it.”


He added, “Even if you look at other titles that have done well – look at Professor Layton on the DS with Lisa Kudrow doing marketing for it, and look at Guitar Hero and how Activision hired on pretty big name sports athletes for their promotional campaign – the titles that are really blowing out in comparison to their competitors are the ones that are laying down the money on the marketing front. And I think long-term the industry is going to start maturing a little more in terms of allocating higher amounts to marketing budgets, particularly on the larger investment titles and hopefully on some of the more medium investment titles too – there’s just such a wide variety of games these days… that sometimes we even forget about some big name title coming out.”

Of course, all of this effort put into marketing is ultimately wasted if the game is of poor quality. Video game consumers are savvy these days, and if the game sucks, word will spread quickly. “Even amongst franchise based products… when you’re dealing with core consumer you can’t just rely on a brand or franchise name to get you home. Quality at the end of the day is still [a key factor] and helps greatly over the long-term sales of the product. … If the game is crap, ultimately long-term that’s going to damage you and it can potentially damage your franchise,” said Short. “But we’ve definitely seen the RE games trending up in quality over time too, which shows that Capcom has really been seeing the light in terms of spending more money on marketing and releasing quality games. And if you look at other publishers in the industry – like EA, THQ, Activision – there’s a big movement right now to focus on quality and to try and deliver comprehensive quality experience that consumers will identify with.”


Microsoft And Rare On ‘The Same Path’ With Natal

Videogamer.com recently spoke with Rare design director George Andreas, and got his quick take on how Project Natal is bringing Rare’s expertise in creating mainstream products to Microsoft.

From Videogamer.com:

“I do feel in many ways that and I ve said this to some people as well for me this is really the first time that Microsoft and Rare are on a very similar path,” said Andreas. “We ve obviously been tasked to create experiences that nobody else can create, which explains things like your Kameos and your Piñatas and your Banjos. But obviously the hardware is aimed at a different demographic, and so we ve always battled against that.”

“Whereas now with Natal, it looks like the roads are on the same path. It’s a union of the two philosophies of the different companies, I guess. Natal is supposed to reach out to a broader audience and a broader consumer, and Rare’s products are always aiming in that direction as well.”

Microsoft Game Studios has leaned heavily on Rare to deliver more mainstream titles (like Viva Pinata and Banjo-Kazooie) than the hardcore Halo and Gears of War fare synonymous with Xbox 360.  The British developer was also instrumental in the creation of the new Xbox 360 Dashboard and Avatars, which seems to have paved the way for much further collaboration between these two companies with Project Natal.

Let s just hope they market Natal better than Rare’s Grabbed by the Ghoulies.  Yikes.

Diablo III For Kids?

Diablo III is one of the most anticipated games, dare we say, ever.  The violent, dark and demonic Diablo and Diablo II were huge hits on the PC, and the third installment looks to bring more blood, gore and action to owners everywhere.

But when a game is that violent, is there a risk of reducing your audience to only those of an older age   Is there a way that parental controls can actually make it into this game, and not just by turning red blood green.

According to game director Jay Wilson in an interview with Wired, they sure as hell will try.

From Wired:

Wilson: We intend to have people to be able to tone down the actual gore levels. In terms of whether we go beyond that, we ll probably do something. But we haven’t really gotten into a specific design for it yet, so it s hard to say.

Wired.com: Are you thinking it’s possible to turn off the blood completely? Or simply change the blood color?

Wilson: Yeah, we re going to have to be able to turn off blood, change the color and things like that, because you can’t have red blood in some regions, regions that we would very much like to sell the game in. So we definitely build everything, that every bit of gore, in a deposited manner so that at a future date, we can go through and change it all or turn it off. In terms of what kind options we give, we actually give within a particular version. We’ve haven’t nailed it down, but if you turn down the gore, you can actually change it to not have red blood. That seems to be really the sticking point for a lot of people because a lot of times we use blood as feedback. And so if we take that out, that actually hurts the gameplay. But we can change the note of that feedback so that it s something that people are more okay with.

Parental controls in Diablo III?   Think of how Gears of War 2 could be handled with parental controls   Pretty tough without cutting whole chunks of the game and making everyone a robot.

But we’re game for anything that increases the potential market for these games, and are very interested to see what Blizzard does when the game comes out sometime next year.

Special Editions Jumping The Shark?

Eidos & WB this week released Batman: Arkham Asylum, an action-adventure game that has gotten a great start out of the gate with positive reviews, midnight sales and great word of mouth.

One thing that may hurt it?   Its special edition package which, according to at least one highly-prominent blog, isn’t all its cracked up to be.

We’ve embedded the Joystiq unboxing video below, but a couple of things have to be said.  In the lead up to the release of the special edition Batman, the batarang looked a lot better, with a bit of weight to it.  The video shows the prop is a small hunk of plastic that, in the words of the video taker, made him feel a bit ripped off.

Special editions are a great way to increase the profit margins on these games, and can be a marketer s best friend, especially when dealing with a fanbase as loyal as the Batman one.

Unfortunately, it can backfire if the quality of product isn t what its cracked up to be.  Maybe not right now, but if it continues, consumers will get wise really quickly, and any potential additional revenue will fly out the door, much like a (wait for it) batarang.

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Capcom’s Innovative Twitter Usage

A possible trend in video game characters having their own Twitter accounts is being taken one step further by Capcom, who has the two main characters of an upcoming Wii Resident Evil game each recounting their adventures on the microblogger.

From Kotaku: {link no longer active}

Leon’s Twitter feed started in mid-July, with just one message: “Sharing my adventure with you.” Then he went quiet for a couple of weeks, returning in early August with what has become a steady stream of updates every day, all of which are in-character and which even show up on the weekends.

Claire Redfield, labeled on Twitter as Claire Darkside, for some reason, has been maintaining a feed too. She follows Leon. Leon follows her. They follow no one else and have about 900 followers apiece.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles ships November 17 for the Nintendo Wii, tweets not included.

Rockstar Announces Date For Next GTA On Twitter

Rockstar Games today announced an October 20 date for the upcoming PSP game Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

The announcement dropped on the official Rockstar Games Twitter, which is news in itself as more publishers try to reach out directly to their users rather than through media outlets and blogs.  Nice to see Rockstar stay ahead of the game in this regard.

The new portable is a port of a Nintendo DS game by the same name that was met with critical praise but a lukewarm sales reception.

Nintendo’s audience may indeed be too family-friendly for a series like GTA, so Rockstar is putting this out on the PSP as a retail UMD and a downloadable game through the PlayStation Store.

AFK: S*** My Dad Says

Today s AFK has to do with dear old dad, and the messed up things he can say from time to time.

The Twitter account ShitMyDadSays recounts the things a 73-year-old dad says to his 28-year-old son.  A few examples:

How the f*** should I know if it’s still good? Eat it. You get sick, it wasn’t good. You people, you think I got microscopic f***ing eyes.

You need to flush the toilet more than once…No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet.

The dog is not bored, it’s a f***ing dog. It’s not like he’s waiting for me to give him a f***ing rubix cube. He’s a g** d***ed dog.

[Follow him on Twitter]