Bioshock Infinite — Announce Early, Advertise Often

Bioshock Infinite has seen several trailers, developer diaries, and exposes in gaming magazines and the game is still months away from releasing. Ken Levine says that the decision of getting info on the game out early was a marketing one.

“We probably would have announced it later, but we were worried about it leaking. We had a nice unintentional head fake, everyone thought we were working on this X-Com game, but we weren’t. It wasn’t what people expected,” Levine said. “Without our presentation, people would have gotten the wrong message about [Bioshock Infinite], it would have been confusing.”

Bioshock Infinite is a new take on an established franchise, pushing new characters in a new environment. Because of this, marketing has to help fill in the gaps for players so they know exactly what this new Bioshock game is about.

“I would have announced it significantly later if I wasn’t worried about that. We had this external factor. Generally, when you announce… f***ed if I know. Is there a science ” Levine asked Leonie Manshanden, the director of marketing for Irrational Games.

“Yes, there actually is, and it’s a very complicated formula that I cannot disclose,” she explained.

“In other words, no.” Levine countered.

To some, this drip-feed of information saturates information channels and detracts from the experience. “Many people are really hardcore and don’t want to know about it,” Levine said. The problem is that this sort of promotional campaign is necessary if you’re hoping to get through to the consumer. “If you step back, and this might not be a popular opinion, but compare how games are marketed versus movies. Look at the Hunger Games, a big movie. And Bioshock Infinite, a big game release. Or Call of Duty, look at the extreme examples. How many impressions do you think a Hunger Games gets on the average person versus Call of Duty How many opportunities are there to tell people about this cool thing ” He points out that games don’t get on the Tonight Show or get to do much marketing outside of the normal video game press. “We’re not covered in the New York Times in a major way, the way a movie would be. We’re not on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.”

“People overestimate how exposed games are, in comparison to other forms of media,” Levine said. The problem is that big name games with large budgets have to reach an audience that isn’t reading the gaming blogs on a daily basis. “There are maybe a million hardcore games, and Call of Duty is going to sell 25 million copies. You either find ways to reach the other [24 million] in ways you can’t normally, or repeat the imagery enough that when they go to IGN they might come across it.”

While it might be annoying to media-types that they end up getting exposed a lot to certain games, there’s no arguing with the benefits. Something like the simple “Heavy Hitter” series of videos, which are simple exposes on certain enemy types, were seen and talked about by hundreds of thousands of gamers, and that’s the sort of ROI marketers can live with.

“We’re asking them to spend a lot of money: $60. That’s a lot of money. It’s our responsibility to give them the information they need to make the purchasing decision,” Levine explained. “But at the end of the day, the last person you should listening to about making a buying decision about Bioshock Infinite is Ken Levine. I’m biased.”

Source: Penny Arcade {link no longer active}

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Says Series Committed To Authenticity

There are a lot of FPS titles that are given modern settings, but most fall short of being truly realistic. Rich Farley, creative director for Danger Close, says that Medal of Honor: Warfighter manages a higher level of authenticity.

“Something we’ve revived recently, since the last Medal of Honor, is this notion of our core tenets of respect for the soldier, telling the soldier’s story from the soldier’s point of view, and kind of a commitment to authenticity, and really trying not to deviate from that and trying to cement our identity in the shooter realm,” says Farley. “Other people have soldiers and weapons systems, and they do a great job of them, but I think what sets us apart is telling the soldier’s story from the soldier’s point of view, and we really take that seriously and dive into it. I would argue that story’s one of the most important things in Warfighter, it’s what really sets us apart as a player experience and an entertainment experience.”

Source: CVG {link no longer active}

NPD Report Shows High Conversion Rate Among Freemium Gamers

According to the NPD Group, four out of 10 of those who have played an upgradable freemium game have made an in-game payment. The report, titled “Insights into the Freemium Games Market”, also revealed that females are significantly more likely than males to have played a freemium game, but they are among the least likely to pay for an upgrade.

“The majority of freemium gamers who opt to pay to upgrade their experience do so within the first month of playing a particular game,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “When designing a game, it’s important to consider features that would drive quick conversion to pay.”

Since there’s little friction in adoption, only 15 percent of gamers that are aware of freemium games choose not to play them. There’s a conversion rate of 84 percent that continue to play among trial users; females are more likely to convert than males, while males and those ages 13 to 34 are the most likely to abandon freemium gaming after trying it.

“Males and those ages 18 to 34 are traditionally seen as a big part of the core gamer audience, so it’s likely these groups are not quite as engaged with freemium because the gaming experience is quite different from what they are used to from the games they play on consoles, handhelds or PC’s,” said Frazier.  “At a minimum, for these gamers a freemium game would provide a different experience, like a snack versus a full meal.”

High awareness, high trial and high adoption of freemium games means that about 38 percent of the U.S. population over the age of two currently plays some type of freemium game.

6waves Bringing BBC Properties To Facebook

6waves and BBC have announced a social game distribution agreement. The first BBC game, Top Gear: Speed World, will recreate many of the famous challenges of the series. Following Top Gear, BBC may be working on  a Dr. Who game.

“With Facebook’s global platform and user reach, it’s a natural fit to extend BBC’s IP to social games that can enrich experiences and connections for our fans and their friends,” said Robert Nashak, EVP BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games. “6waves was an obvious partner because of the company’s track record of driving success for the developers and brands it works with.”

“BBC Worldwide has made tremendous strides in expanding its brands to consumers through interactive channels,” said Jim Ying, SVP of Platform at 6waves. “Social games are a successful way to connect consumers directly with brands they love, we couldn’t be happier to be partnered with BBC in this step in their digital strategy.”

The Raven Photo Challenge

Get your creative juices flowing by taking a shot at the Digital Photography Review Photo Challenge {link no longer active}, sponsored by The Raven. Challenges are photographic mini-competitions (with no prize other than glory) open to all preview members and judged by popular vote. There are four suitably horrific weekly themes – Midnight, Entombed, Gothic, The Raven – to inspire your photographic creativity. Starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven hits theaters April 27.

War Inc. Launches Formally

Online Warmongers Group has announced that War Inc. Battle Zone has launched out of beta testing, where it saw players from over 175 countries who logged in excess of 120 million hours of game play. The game’s official release will see the introduction of 32 vs. 32 “platoon-on-platoon” battles and a deep weapon modification system.

“More than two years ago we set out to make a console-quality, competition-tuned shooter that would set a new standard in free-to-play,” said Sergey Titov, President of Online Warmongers.  “As our community of players came to recognize throughout our beta, we kept raising the bar for ourselves, and today we believe we’ve done it for the free shooter category as a whole.”

Additionally, Online Warmongers has partnered with Alienware Arena to commemorate the game’s launch with a massive giveaway.  New War Inc. Battle Zone players can enter to win an Alienware X51 gaming computer or one of 100,000 codes for a free in-game bundle that includes high-end weapons, custom gear and the exclusive Alienware Arena branded chest plate at {link no longer active}.

Kickstarter May Reach $300 Million Raised For 2012

Kickstarter might raise $300 million this year, roughly three times higher than 2011’s funding numbers. Leading the way is the Pebble smartwatch with $5.6 million pledged, but Double Fine raised $3.3 million on the service, InXile’s Wasteland 2 had $2.9 million, and Shadowrun Returns has raised $1.3 million.

Furthermore, a breakdown by Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler show that film was far and and away the most funded. Granted, this study was done in February, and numerous games projects have come out since then.

Source: VentureBeat