Friday, June 5, 2009

Wolfenstein 3D is BRILLIANT Marketing

I've been taking a mini-break from the RPG action lately to get down and dirty with id's classic FPS title, Wolfenstein 3D, which was released earlier with week on XBLA for a mere 400 Microsoft Points, which is a heck of a deal. How often do we see 400 point games these days? Even cash-strapped, unemployed recent college graduates like me can afford the $5 to download this icon of gaming history.

I'm surprised to find that I've ben enjoying this title a lot more than DOOM, and I like DOOM. What bothered me about that game though was the fact that you could only aim left or right, yet you could be shooting at enemies at your level or above you. It didn't make sense to me, and made me really wish for Y-axis aiming. With Wolfenstein, everything I've encountered so far it at the same level as the player, which has spared me this confusion, and made it more fun for me. Wolfenstein 3D is a game I can enjoy in 30 minute increments, as a fun way to destress and enjoy a classic game I hadn't had the opportunity to play until now.

Of course, the release of Wolfenstein 3D in this fashion is also a brilliant marketing strategy. Gamers are getting a great game at a great price, which of course makes the fan base happy. Now build on that with the fact that playing through this game will unlock rewards in the upcoming Wolfenstein game, and players become more interested in checking out the new game. And, of course, why not seal the deal by including a trailor for the new Wolfenstein as a required part of the download? (Truthfully, the Wolfenstein trailor probably constitutes 50% or more of the game's total file size) It's a 1-2-3 combo to raise interest and awareness of an upcoming product, and I think more companies should try something like this, where that can. I mean, I got a fun game, and (eventually) 200 achievement points, and they got the word out about Wolfenstein in a way that didn't feel at all intrusive.

Who else could profit from this same marketing tactic? SEGA has already re-released the majority of their back-catalogue, so I don't think they could, but I'd be happy to download Road Rash as a promo for some new racing game. {EDIT: I'm not sure who actually own Road Rash these days, I think it might be EA, not Sega...} Square-Enix has been busy re-releasing their old games by every means but direct-download. How great would it be to see XBLA ports of the early Final Fantasy classics to stir the waters before FFXIII releases?

Of course, re-releasing games would cost money, as they'd have to be reworked for the arcade, but if you offer a known quality game at a reasonable price, people will surely download it, and depending on the game and development costs, companies could be making good money on these re-releases, while getting "free" advertising for their upcoming products, and the gaming public has little to no problem with it, since we're getting a pretty good deal.

Activision's release of Wolfenstein 3D is brilliant marketing, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if other companies try similar tactics in the future. If the results continue to work out this well, will any of us mind?

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