Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How a Brand Manager Shops for a Game

I'm so over Oblivion. No one will sell me a house and I keep losing the stuff I hide in a barrel. I'm over it I say!

So time for a new game. Hmm, this press release for Titan Quest looks interesting:

"THQ Inc. today announced that Titan Quest(TM), the epic and immersive action Role-Playing Game (RPG) developed by Brian Sullivan's (co-creator of Age of Empires) Iron Lore Entertainment, has shipped to retail outlets worldwide. Lauded for its next-generation graphics and original story penned by Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, Titan Quest is available exclusively for Windows PC at a suggested retail price of $49.99."
RPG game, good graphics, story by Hollywood screenwriter. Ok, let's keep reading:
"As huge fans of the action RPG genre, there was no question as to what Iron Lore's first project as a team would be," said Brian Sullivan, lead designer and president, Iron Lore Entertainment. "We are thrilled that after four years in development, our vision of the ultimate RPG experience is now releasing worldwide."
Wow four years, that's impressive. What does the press say? Quoted in the press release:
    * Game Informer (United States): "Easily the best-looking action/RPG
around." -- Review Score: 8.25 / 10

* (United States): "A propulsive experience that's very easy on
the eyes." -- Review Score: 8.1 / 10
I wasn't born yesterday; not going to believe what they have in a press release. What did they really say?

Game Informer Review: "Overall, Titan Quest gets the job done. It doesn’t really do much to bring the genre forward, but it doesn’t necessarily screw things up either."

Hehe, I can see why they didn't pick that part of the review for the press release. Review: "
If I'm harsh on Titan Quest, perhaps it's because I expected something clearly better than D2 to come out of the subgenre, after several years of opportunity -- and Iron Lore looked like a good fit.... If you find yourself a little disenchanted, though, it's probably not just you. I think it looks impressive and offers a ton of content, and there are certainly worse games with which to spend your summer days (and there are worse games coming out of new development houses)."

Hmm, modified truth in a press release? I'm SHOCKED. So what's the real story here?

GameSpot Review: "It doesn't take action RPGs to a whole new level or anything, but you'll probably have fun with it if you've enjoyed these kinds of games in the past."

GameSpy Review: "Just when you thought that the world had seen the l
ast Diablo clone, along comes what might be one of the best yet."

Ok, so it's a prettier updated version of Diablo but not from Blizzard. I get it. Let's check out the site. Not bad, it's got all the info and visual assets I'd want from a game site but pretty boring overall. You'd think with 4 years of development, they could have spent some time making a cooler site.

Moving on, let's look at the ad campaign. Looks like TitanQuest has a homepage takeover of GameSpy today (ad may not be there tomorrow). The ad unit has rollover functionality and deep content including videos. Wow! I'm more impressed with the ad unit than the site. When you take over a home page like that, it's important to give consumers the option of clicking to your site right away or playing around within an ad unit for more information. Most consumers hate to click away from what they're doing so an well done immersive ad unit can be incredibly valuable for brand awareness.

In Summary:

The press release was full of "bendy" truth and no good. The game reviews were more truthful but I had to read quite a few to get a good sense of the game's value proposition; it's a pretty Diablo update. Finally, what wrapped it all up nicely for me was the ad unit. It showed me what I needed to know and didn't waste my time clicking all over the Internet.

I think I'm sold. The visuals are very nice and if the gameplay is like Diablo, it should deliver on a few good hours of mindless hack and slash. I'll buy the game this weekend and let you guys know what I think.

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