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}