Ken Levine on why you’re bombarded with game coverage
If you’re a “core” gamer – and if you’re busy reading this, chances are you are – then you’re pretty aware that you’re constantly bombarded with news, trailers, and information about up-coming games. Games are revealed years before they come out, and then gamers are drip-fed little bits of information over time. It’s something that’s recently happened with Bioshock Infinite, where every week a new “heavy hitters” video showcasing one of the game’s enemy types was shown off to press – and subsequently gamers – by way of a trailer.
It’s something Polygon’s Justin McElroy took to Twitter to complain about. “The piecemeal reveal promotional strategy for BioShock Infinite is kinda bumming me out. Every week a new email I wish I hadn’t seen,” he said. It’s something I agree with – and personally feel that slowly drip-fed bits of largely inconsequential information sucks the excitement right out of me.
Ken Levine’s explained why the game was revealed years before release, and why we’re being bombarded with tidbits.
The problem, really is that if you announce your game too close to release, there’s not enough time to get it in to people’s minds – while if you announce it too early, you could end up losing your target audience when they get bored and move on to something else.
“We probably would have announced it later, but we were worried about it leaking. We had a nice unintentional head fake, everyone thought we were working on this X-Com game, but we weren’t. It wasn’t what people expected,” Levine said to Penny Arcade’s Ben Kuchera. “Without our presentation, people would have gotten the wrong message about [Bioshock Infinite], it would have been confusing.”
BioShock Infinite is not a direct sequel to the last games, with a whole new setting – but is it really necessary to inundate gamers with pre-release information that some might consider spoilerific?
“We get this a lot. Many people are really hardcore and don’t want to know about it,” Levine said. However, he asserts that it’s a necessary tactic to get through to consumers – the sort who might not read gaming news sites all day long. “If you step back, and this might not be a popular opinion, but compare how games are marketed versus movies. Look at the Hunger Games, a big movie. And Bioshock Infinite, a big game release. Or Call of Duty, look at the extreme examples. How many impressions do you think a Hunger Games gets on the average person versus Call of Duty? How many opportunities are there to tell people about this cool thing?”
Levine points out that unlike blockbuster films, games aren’t generally marketed in the same way as films.
“We’re not covered in the New York Times in a major way, the way a movie would be. We’re not on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.”
I’m terribly excited for BioShock Infinite. It’s probably the game I’m most looking forward to for the rest of this year – but when I get an email, or stumble across new information, my eyes tend to glaze over. Is there such a thing as too much exposure?
Bioshock infinite is out for Pc, PS3 and Xbox 360 in October this year. Expect at least 12 trailers before then.