Recoil developer Skyrocket has teamed up with photo entertainment site theCHIVE to create a series of videos and community events around what they hope to be the biggest retail launch of this holiday season.
Recoil is one of those games you have to try to fully understand. Players attach their smartphones to plastic weapons both physically and with Bluetooth, then connect to a provided WiFi router to track movements and damage. It’s essentially the cops and robbers game you played as a kid, souped up with modern technology. The AR game can be played indoors or outdoors in an area ranging up to 500 feet. While the game is already at retailers, Skyrocket will begin an aggressive marketing push beginning August 15.
In an interview with AListDaily, Albert Briggs, vice president of sales and brand strategy at theCHIVE, and Craig Mitchell, senior director at Skyrocket, discussed millennial marketing, building a community around a brand and how cool guys never look at explosions.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of depth and strategy to a game like Recoil that we want to show off to a lot of people,” said Mitchell. “I think there’s a big part of building credibility to this product early on. It ties into our strategy of why we showed it to IGN and why we showed it to Gizmodo and CNET and taking it to [San Diego] Comic-Con. We’re building credibility around the product so it’s not perceived as, ‘Oh it looks like laser tag.'”
“We’ve got a pretty long history of working with video games,” said Briggs. “TheCHIVE is an environment that appeals very heavily to millennial men, and gaming tends to be a big part of their lives. When people come to theCHIVE, they’re not only coming to laugh, but they’re also coming to get a good amount of relative, relatable gaming information.”
With its brand message, “making the world 10 percent happier,” theCHIVE partners with brands to create content it knows its followers will enjoy.
Since Recoil is played in the real world, Briggs explained how this particular campaign will be different. “When we approach a game like [Recoil], there are elements of the campaign that live digitally online, where a lot of people are going to purchase this game,” he said. “But also experiential—off-site elements so people can actually experience and play the game with our other community members and other ‘Chivers’ out there.”
In addition to community events, theCHIVE is creating what it calls “the ultimate war room” in its home base of Austin, Texas. It’s an indoor environment complete with couches, big screens and (of course) air conditioning to watch the action from afar. The company is also planning internal promotion around the Austin city area, timed with an upcoming college football game.
“We know that, in speaking to a younger audience, they want to be wowed and they want an experience that is truly unique,” Briggs continued. “If a brand or an advertiser can come in and say, ‘let’s be additives to that experience,’ then that’s truly the best way to reach someone. We’ve been seeing that in the masses in the last year-and-a-half of brands coming to theCHIVE saying, ‘we know that your community is very loyal and awesome and we want to add to that experience.’ I think Skyrocket nailed it with this program.”
For Skyrocket, partnering with such an engaged community has great potential for its new game.
“TheCHIVE has been such a great partner with us,” says Mitchell. “The fun part of this product is that we think it appeals to so many different audiences. We’re going after gamers [and] we’re going after tech-focused people, because this is really a new piece of technology, and play pattern that’s going to apply to that group. TheCHIVE is gonna be great because I think it’s going to get a few different audiences like dads playing with their kids, and a younger audience that’s going to take advantage of that larger, 16-player experience—getting people outside.
“We joke that for certain audiences, Recoil is going to turn into an awesome drinking game and I think that kind of aligns with theCHIVE‘s audience. Our directive to them is to have a lot of fun with the product and show it off in a lot of interesting environments.”
Recoil is similar to games like laser tag or Nerf, but at the same time, completely different. To help illustrate Skyrocket’s vision for turning anywhere into a battlefield, Skyrocket worked with creative agency Battery to build a brand strategy and campaign, starting with a character that would train “new recruits.” Veteran actor Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) embodies the role of Striker—a grizzled general preparing today’s youth to become “Recoil soldiers.”
Separate from theCHIVE partnership, a new spot starring Madsen will debut on August 15. While filming, Mitchell and his team were particularly impressed with the actor’s professionalism.
“There’s a giant explosion in the shot 100 feet away from [Madsen],” Mitchell says. “He’s leaning against this tree and we set off this massive explosion next to him. I was there and I remember we all jumped out of our seats—it was that loud and it took everybody off guard—and there’s Madsen with his back turned, eyes on the camera when the explosion goes off and he does not flinch. You don’t even notice a twinge on his face and I thought, ‘Man this guy is a professional.'”
Mitchell says that technology has changed how we interact with each other, and while it has brought about many great things, it also led to “people staring at their phones all day.”
“I love that there are companies out there that are trying to take technology to improve our lives and improve interaction and get people going outside,” he said. “I think Pokémon GO was such a great example of that—taking the play pattern that people are doing that is interacting with their phone, but also getting them off the couch, interacting with their friends and going outside. I really think Recoil is a further evolution of that play pattern. I think we’re going to see a lot more of that over the next few years and that’s a great thing.”