The array of games on display at E3 was vast, and there are many games worthy of focusing on. One interesting new IP was Battleborn, showcased by TakeTwo’s 2K Games studio with a significant floor presence. The game, created by Gearbox Software, is a first-person shooter with a vibe reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, in a cel-shaded style that’s colorful and appealing. This was one of the games at E3 that’s not a sequel, and it’s going to have to battle for attention and sales in a crowded field. Just how Battleborn is waging the fight offers some interesting tips for marketers.
Battleborn statues at E3
The marketing efforts for Battleborn were substantial at the show, pointing towards what will probably be a strong campaign for the fall (the game’s release is only listed as “Winter.”) The massive statues in the front of the booth were a major attractor for the crowds, drawing a steady stream of attendees posing in front to have their pictures taken. This is a common technique (last year, 2K did the same thing with Evolve) and an effective one, creating a draw from quite a distance across the hall even in an expo floor crowded with bright colors and signs. The biggest problem would be finding an effective use for these statues when they aren’t at shows â€“ hopefully the company has a huge lobby or common room somewhere.
The company describes Battleborn as “a first-person-shooter with a deep roster of 25 playable heroes. Every hero has their own personality and comes equipped with their own unique weapons and powers. Through Battleborn’s accelerated character growth system, players will fully experience each hero’s leveling progression in a single story mission or multiplayer match.” This is a key differentiator that the company will no doubt continue to highlight in its marketing efforts. This progression system brings in an RPG element where players can level up to improve their augments, skills, and non-game-play things like ranks, titles, and badges. These are, effectively, marketing tools incorporated into the game design to encourage social sharing. This shows the importance of integrating marketing thinking into the game design process, because it will make marketing the game that much more effective later on.
Battleborn on display
Battleborn offers multiple different modes to broaden its appeal, from a story mode that can be played solo or with friends, to teams of players cooperating against waves of AI-controlled minions, to (of course) team vs. team deathmatches. This array of play options will help attract a variety of players, and no one can say for sure in advance which play mode will be most popular. When you’ve got all the pieces in place, why not offer more play modes The additional time and effort in development may offer a big benefit once the game is launched.
The marketing efforts shown at E3 center around the characters, who are plentiful (there are 25 so far), colorful, and clearly designed with an eye towards marketability. 2K Games produced a booklet they gave away at E3 showcasing some of the characters with colorful artwork and some descriptions. This shows that the lessons of games like League of Legends are being well learned by other companies. Colorful characters that have outsize personas and a distinctive look and attitude help pique player interest and drive people to look at the game. In the best case scenario, such characters become self-sustaining marketing efforts. Look, for example, at the large numbers of cosplayers who dress as various League of Legends characters. They are, in effect, walking billboards at many large consumer shows. No doubt 2K Games would love to see this happen with Battleborn.
Battleborn is coming out for Xbox One, PS4, and PC in the winter for $59.99. This may be something of a handicap for a multiplayer online game in this age of free-to-play games, but Battleborn’s quality and wealth of play modes should easily justify the purchase. While there will be plenty of competition, the game was fast, fluid, and fun, and it should easily hold its own. Doubtless there will be strong marketing support from 2K Games, and from the looks of the crowds lining up to play the game at E3 there should be plenty of eager fans ready to join this fight.