There are two schools of thought when it comes to marketing a game. One requires the developer be patient and trust that the project they are working on is one that the market desires, that they will go absolutely bananas over once it is announced. The other, however, is a more community-based approach, whereby the project is allowed to evolve under the watchful eye of curious gamers, and makes several appearances at numerous press and trade events.
While not many developers are known for adhering to the arguably riskier latter route, there are a select, admired few that do — developers like Bethesda and Valve. And then there are those, like id Software, who see the advantage in such a strategy, and have vowed to stick to try it from here on out.
Several different factors certainly played a part in id’s decision, but Tim Willits cites the botched marketing of Rage as a major contributor. Willits admits that id showed Rage far too early, well before it was ready to be scrutinized by the media and the gaming public. The game itself was unveiled way back in 2009, but it wasn’t until last year that the post-apocalyptic shooter hit store shelves.
One of biggest concerns id Software, or more specifically Willits, had when they were first showing off Rage was that players wouldn’t understand the vehicle combat. So the developer invested heavily in explaining that first, and unfortunately gave players a distorted perspective on the title’s core gameplay.
In the future Willits doesn’t mind if gamers know they are working on a project, like we all assume Valve is with Half-Life 3, but doesn’t want to unveil it until he time is right. It’s the ten-month “campaign” that started with the unveiling of Skyrim at the VGAs that Willits thinks is “perfect.”
That isn’t to say the finished product was perfect, it had more than its fair share of flaws, but the marketing approach id Software undertakes in the future will be substantially different. Meaning we won’t be seeing anything about Doom 4 until 10-months before it releases.
Do you agree that Rage was shown off too early or did the game just need more time in development? How do you feel about developers employing the Valve approach to marketing games?