This week in video game promotions, hearts race on an alien-infested space station and everyone’s favorite plumber races to 150 million downloads.
Bethesda and Arkane Studios’ promotion of Prey is one part flash, one part immersion and one part influence—reaching a wide variety of potential fans through some rather creative means.
A sci-fi thriller set in the far future, Prey tells the story of Morgan Yu, who awakens aboard a space station called Talos I, orbiting around the moon. “Morgan is the key subject in an experiment that is meant to alter humanity forever,” says Prey lead designer Ricardo Bare on Bethesda’s website. “But when you wake up—when you step out into the main lobby—you immediately see that things have gone terribly wrong. It’s up to you as the player to figure out, ‘How did I get here? What’s going on? How do I survive? And how do I get off this space station?’”
In the game, Talos I is as much of a character as Morgan so Arkane has laid the groundwork to immerse gamers into the space station and the challenges they will need to overcome as they battle an alien force called the Typhon. Care packages were mailed to various influential YouTubers such as Chaos that included “regulation rations” for the space station such as toilet paper, coffee and even a banana.
Gamers can explore Talos I early with a special, one-hour demo ahead of the game’s launch as well as a number of official livestreams with the development team. Sponsored livestreams with microinfluencers on YouTube and Twitch aided in creating awareness for Prey, as well, although the developer isn’t too worried about spoilers.
“That’s the world we live in,” Raphael Colantonio, creative director at Arkane Studios told AListDaily. “I think some players will want to know as much as they can before they touch the game and some others will protect themselves from any kind of spoilers. As long as both are happy, it’s cool with us. The game tailors itself to how you want to play and the experience you want to have. So, even if you’ve seen someone else play, your experience will still matter and be different.”
— Prey (@PreyGame) April 26, 2017
To celebrate science fiction horror films that inspired Prey, Bethesda and GameStop teamed up with the Alamo Drafthouse for a free, month-long nationwide sci-fi film festival featuring a series of movies and a hands-on gameplay experience for fans. Films included Aliens, The Matrix, Pitch Black, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Edge of Tomorrow and Moon. Another festival took place in the UK thanks to a partnership with Sony UK and Prince Charles Cinema in London.
Of course, gaming is more fun on a brand-new console, so the official Prey Twitter account gave away a custom PS4 Pro, asking users to share what they’re excited about in the game. For UK residents, gamers can enter to win a copy of the game, a custom PS4 Pro, 4K TV and merch galore by taking a “psychometric test” to determine which Prey character they are.
For those who love behind-the-scenes, Bethesda has been generous with developer diaries and tutorial videos. In Melbourne, the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI) will host a special Q&A session May 3 with Raphael Colantonio.
This weekend, the game made an especially fast appearance on a sponsored race car driven by Erik Jones in the NASCAR Cup Series.
— Erik Jones (@erik_jones) April 28, 2017
Super Mario Is Still Running
Mario’s debut onto mobile devices seems to be going rather well, according to Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima. Super Mario Run “will soon reach 150 million downloads” for iOS and Android combined, nearly double from 78 million as of January. Releasing first on iOS devices this past December and then on Android in March, Super Mario Run offers World One (four levels) for free (as of the most recent update), and unlimited access thereafter for $10 US. The update added additional characters which Nintendo hopes will further extend gameplay enjoyment and time spent in the app.
When the game launched in December, experts were concerned about the $10 price tag, especially in a market where consumers are used to the “freemium” model—that is, free with optional microtransactions. Despite the price—as well as the need to always be online—a worldwide love for the Super Mario franchise and availability in 165 countries/regions is making up for most concerns. The price tag includes any future updates, which is good news for players, but bad news for Nintendo who is now missing out on high-spending users.
“We aim for Super Mario Run to be an evergreen application with broad popularity worldwide that can be played without worrying about additional purchases,” Nintendo said in its Financial Results Briefing for Fiscal Year Ending March 2017. Super Mario thus far remains evergreen by offering special events for both single player mode and competitive “Toad Rally” mode. Going on through May 11, for example, the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Release event will reward Super Mario Run players with Mario Kart-themed items based on how many times Toad Rally has been played.