While a whole slew of games are primed to launch this week, particularly on the PlayStation VR (PSVR), the biggest, baddest promotions go to these two AAA titles. From dangling a Jeep Wrangler from the top of a building to burning rubber in its very own drift car, these are the top game releases and promotions for the week of October 10.
Gears of War 4
Microsoft is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of its hit Gears of War franchise by ushering in a new era and telling gamers, “Never fight alone.” This slogan not only applies to the game’s story, but encourages multiplayer action, especially the Gears of War Pro Circuit eSports program. In addition to the usual Day One perks like gold-colored weapons and exclusive, playable characters, those who ordered the Ultimate Edition were able to begin playing the game four days before everyone else. Microsoft has maintained a strong convention presence since the game’s announcement during E3 with hands-on demos, panels and even collectible cards that unlock exclusive items in-game. The collectible cards even come with their own dedicated mobile app to help manage and collect them all. Gears of War 4 is the first Play Anywhere title for Xbox One and featured as the first Xbox One S themed bundle, making this iconic franchise the face of Microsoft’s new console campaigns.
Microsoft certainly doesn’t “fight alone,” especially when it comes to marketing. A movie is currently in development at Universal Studios, with Scott Stuber (Ted, Central Intelligence) and Dylan Clark (Planet of the Apes) attached as producers. As it has done in previous years, UFC 204 is sponsored by Gears of War 4 and Conan O’Brien tried his hand at the game for a Clueless Gamer sketch. An art exhibit was held in California for a special, 2-day event featuring concept art,original art pieces, life-sized replicas of armor and a debut of the game’s original soundtrack by Grammy-and-Emmy-award-winning composer, Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim). A Formula Drift car, driven by Matt Field was featured in the championship race on October 8. Other notable partnerships include a special edition of the HyperX CloudX Revolver gaming headphones, collectible figures by Funko Pop!, PlayArts KAI and McFarlane Toys, life-size lancer rifles from PDP and a special concept art book with Dark Horse. A special partnership with clothing brand, Undefeated resulted in an exclusive line of Gears-themed goods set to appear in a pop-up store in Los Angeles on October 11.
The launch itself has been accompanied by many, many livestreams that include developers and influencers alike, giveaways and special announcements (such as the film adaptation). The frontline marketing continued by creating a showcase of fan tattoos for Gears of War, which helped cement an emotional bond for the franchise, and fans are able to vote on new armor that will become free DLC. On Twitter, the #GearsOfWar4 hashtag comes with a sponsored emoji of COG soldier, gear-shaped dog tags to get players psyched for combat. As if the gameplay wasn’t amped enough, gamers can help keep the marathon going with specially-designed cans of Rockstar energy drinks. Anyone who purchases Gears of War 4 for Xbox One by December 31, 2016 will receive digital download tokens to obtain a free copy of Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment backward-compatible for the Xbox One.
Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration
Square Enix, meanwhile, is celebrating 20 years of Tomb Raider in a big way with a scavenger hunt, concert series and a ton of in-game bonuses. As the most iconic female video game character of all time, Lara Croft represents adventure and a whole lot of memories for gamers everywhere. Tapping into this nostalgia, while keeping Lara relevant is key to Square Enix’s marketing strategy. Those who pre-ordered the game, for example, can play Lara with a number of classic character models to bring back all those gaming feels. Bringing Lara into the future, meanwhile, involves PlayStation VR with a special, stand-alone experience called Blood Ties—allowing players to explore and interact with Lara’s manor in a whole new way.
In New York? Head over to Broadway & 52nd for your chance to win a @tombraider jeep! Parking not included. #NYCC2016 #PrizeOfTheTombRaider pic.twitter.com/XjFv5g88V1
— Square Enix (@SquareEnix) October 7, 2016
“With the 20 Year Celebration, we wanted to bring Lara’s Manor into the modern timeline,” Chris Johnson, associate brand manager at Crystal Dynamics told [a]listdaily at NYCC. “When players first got the cinematic experience of Lara in her childhood home, fans went totally nuts. Now is the perfect time to bring this to life.” Another DLC pits Lara Croft against zombies in Lara’s Nightmare, although not in VR. During the New York Comic-Con, Square Enix unveiled a special collaboration with Player Piano—a beautiful medley of Tomb Raider music from across the decades.
Speaking of conventions, Lara Croft remains one of the most popular cosplay choices every year, so Square Enix came up with a fun excuse to pull out the costumes. During Paris Games Week on October 29, Square Enix is attempting a Guinness World Record for “The Most People Dressed as Lara Croft” in one place, offering prizes and other incentives for fans to join in. In the spirit of adventure (and for those who prefer to drive rather than rock climb and flip around their real-world environments), fans can enter to win “Prize of the Tomb Raider,” a 2016 Jeep Wrangler. Those in New York for the big comic convention could even witness a real Jeep Wrangler hanging from a building! To further celebrate the adventures you’ll have, Square Enix teamed up with comic book artist, Andy Park to create exclusive art and an in-game outfit called “Woman Vs. Wild.”
Much like Gears of War 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider also features collectible in-game cards that unlock modifiers and game-modes for enhanced playing experiences. Those who play during the first week of the game’s launch will receive 10,000 in-game credits to spend on these cards.