hifi fevera game based on the concept of pure joy, stood out last week for two things. one, it is very very good! And two, it accomplished the rarest feat in video games: a successful surprise launch.
By surprise I mean absolute surprise. One minute no one knew the game even existed, the next it was available to download and play on Xbox and PC. In this, The Year of Our Lord 2023, how often does that happen… to something? Anywhere? Never, that’s the frequency!
As a result, the game doesn’t feel like a breath of fresh air, it feels like a gust of wind throwing us off balance, and while I don’t want to underestimate any aspect of the game itself when I talk about its success, let’s be honest. Here: This game feels so new not just because it’s an amazing game, but because it didn’t slip away for 12 months from a protracted marketing campaign.
What I’m going to say here is not meant to directly disparage anyone who works in game marketing: you have jobs to do selling video games, and in the vast majority of cases, that involves people who do a very good job. Whether it’s putting together blockbuster trailers or just chatting with (potential) fans on social media, it’s a tough job, and in most cases I fully understand and sympathize with it, especially since the system they operate in: sell games. in storefronts obsessed with pre-orders and wish listsrequires it.
But I am not responsible for doing a single ad campaign. I, like you, am on the receiving end of one thousand of them, all at once, wherever we look. From previews on big sites to YouTube, Twitter, and Discord, anyone interested in gaming on the internet is under siege from the moment they log in to the moment they log out. Here’s a thing, pre-order it, get more information on this thing, pre-order it.
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I’ve covered this in my deathblood pieces of the saga previously, but video game marketing always has some predictability. Not in terms of the specifics of their campaign (a AAA blockbuster obviously has a different marketing budget than a small indie release), but in the way that they can often be guaranteed to blow us away.
It’s not enough to be shown the world, genre, and premise of a game. They have to tell us the backstory of each main character. An explainer of lore is shown to the world. We are told how many lines of dialogue are in the script, how many thousands of hours it might take to finish it, who each voice actor is. We are conditioned, and in many cases expected at launch, to be fans of a game we haven’t played yet. that of course, it’s the whole point.
Imagine if, instead of appearing out of nowhere, hifi fever it had been the subject of a traditional Bethesda marketing campaign. Imagine seeing it revealed at The Game Awards in December 2021, its bright light dimmed by the weight of the biggest and most expensive games it was revealed with. Imagine being subjected to Chai’s worst lines as part of a character reveal trailer on YouTube, instead of warming up to his Fry-From-futurama-esque charms over the course of the game’s opening hours. What if instead of the game being able to take so much delight in revealing its cast and world on its own terms, we’d already spoiled it with a Meet Project Armstrong documentary?
It would have sucked! The game itself would have been great, of course, but much of the joy of discovery that has accompanied its release, a modern school buzz, would have been lost. To be clear, as I’ve already said, I’m not saying any of this to embarrass any particular worker, studio, or agency involved in the marketing of any other video game. Trees are not the problem here. it’s the forest
What does he do hifi fever so special. It’s one of the only games you could get away with. Note that I haven’t called for an end to game marketing here, nor have I said that more games should try this, because the former would be pointless (it’s a big forest!) and the latter would be unwise advice. As much as hifi fever it feels like a remastered GameCube game, and unlike everything else, it was developed by a prominent AAA studio and published by Bethesda, then released on Xbox Game Pass so people can try it “for free.” It was lucky to be perhaps the only possible combination of style, range, and pedigree that could afford to try this, let alone hope to get away with it.
So I don’t want to say hifi fever should be a example. I just want to say that we should all treasure this game for what it is and how it came to us, because in both cases the circumstances are as perfect as we could have hoped they would be, and we may never see them line up like this again. Surprises are nice, but few are as nice as a good surprise from a video game.
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