Where have they gone? Sound Shapes & Starhawk
So yesterday was our weekly Saturday Smackdown event, and while I was modding the chat, we ended up with an interesting discussion about Sony games, and how strangely marketed they are. It led me to write this.
Soundshapes & Starhawk are two totally completely different games in terms of genre and game mechanics, but they are both awesome games. They both suffered from (in my opinion) the same fatal flaw; Being marketed by Sony.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Well, does anybody remember seeing commercials, advertisements, demo stations in stores for either game? I sure don’t. I really cannot remember much in the way of advertising for either game. God of War Ascension had that Super Bowl commercial. That commercial aired about 3 months before the release of the game. Remember The Last of Us Commercial that aired recently during an episode of The Walking Dead? About 3 months till the game releases. Strange right, but don’t you feel far more excited for TLoU than the GoW game?
(A lot of this is just my own opinion and speculation, feel free to credit me, discredit me, or trash me in the comments if you feel so inclined)
Sony spends far too much time sitting back and believing that their system and games need no promotion or advertising. The only Sony advertisements I can remember seeing recently are for televisions, or the PS3 itself. But isn’t it worth mentioning the huge library of awesome games it has? How about Playstation Plus, a premier service which provides gamers early access to betas/demos as well as FREE downloadable games. (and GOOD ones; Resident Evil 5, Demon Souls, Quantum Conundrum, Payday: The Heist, Spec Ops: The Line as examples) Why is this something Sony feels shouldn’t be mentioned to people. I’m not someone who watches a whole lot of TV but I definitely remember far more commercials for games like Gears of War and Halo before I saw commercials for Playstation All Stars or Starhawk or Sound Shapes.
Remember when Uncharted 3 came out, and they did the cross promotion with Subway? How many times did you see Nathan Drake falling out of that airplane and grabbing his subway sub and soda? A lot. I was already going to get the game but it certainly helped keep the game fresh in my mind. Even currently, The Last of Us just had a commercial released during The Walking Dead. How many millions of people watch that show? Not only is TLoU relevant to the show’s concept, but it is a huge way to get people excited about a game. We’re even getting early access to TLoU game with a demo included in God of War Ascension.
(go google “uncharted 3 subway” for yourself and see all the results)
Starhawk even had a beta access code inside Uncharted 3. So why is it that Starhawk just seems like a game that was pushed off to the side by most gamers? While I will say that there are a lot of people who play it, it just always feels like it could have been more popular. The same would go for Soundshapes. It first came out, I played it all the time on my Vita (much better experience with creating levels on the vita vs. ps3 because of touch controls) but then it seemed like the Sony community was like “okay the game is out, lets focus on something else!”
(One of Starhawk’s flying levels, which are awesome btw)
Soundshapes is just a really fun game that because it’s cross-play, you can take with you (if you have a Vita). Even the most non-musically inclined person can create a fun and exploratory level to venture through, creating a little tune along the way. If you go into the online levels now, there are hundreds of really amazing works being made, much like the community in Little Big Planet, with lots of unique levels being made in a way that might not have been expected. But again it just seems like the Sony-side of the community has let this game fall to the wayside and while there are still diehard fans in every game, you lose all the casual/occasional gamers who simply assume they need to move onto the next big thing sony starts to push.
(Shameless plug, a level I created called “Cool Whisper”)
I get that promoting a brand/game after it has been released is an expensive and sometimes difficult task, but that’s how you keep people interested in a game. Even really good games will suffer from poor marketing. As a small example, Halo 4 had a few stations when I was at PAX East a few weeks ago. How long has Halo 4 been out; Though MS felt it necessary to continue to remind people about the Halo franchise and keep it fresh in their memories?
At this point I am rambling, but let me know what you think in the comments below. Am I wrong? Am I right? I think Sony absolutely needs to step up their game when it comes to marketing things like PSPlus over the PS3 itself, and now with the PS4 on the approach this “Holiday 2013″ it will be interesting to see how they chose to market the new games as they come out.