The marketing campaign of a game can make or break and has the potential to be misleading. With so much competition for between titles, the need for a strong pre-release strategy is key to success.
Naturally, the game has to stack up upon said release. However, especially when it comes to story-driven games there is a balance to strike between a compelling marketing campaign and not revealing the story. The Last of Us 2 which is dominating the GFK software charts right now, went for an interesting approach in the area.
BEFORE READING ANY FURTHER THIS ARTICLES CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR LAST OF US 2! LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE STORY!
Did the Last of Us Mislead Customers?
In the Last of Us 2’s marketing, it leaned heavily into the relationship between characters Joel and Ellie. This indicated that Joel would be an integral part of the game throughout. So when he died in the opening salvo some fans felt cheated.
Although many had predicted Joel’s death the trailers seemed to lead us away from this fact. This had the effect of making his death all the more impactful and shocking. Which is what the developers wanted it to be.
However, this has not stopped some for arguing that they had been misled and the game was not what was promised. Overall the Last of Us 2 handled the twist well and most can understand the reason behind it. However, this could tempt other developers to do the same.
Should Marketing Withold More
Marketing, especially in story-driven games, is a difficult balance to strike. On the one hand, companies need to show off their game to the best of their abilities. However, the do not wish to compromise the story.
The Last of Us 2 (PS4 photo mode) pic.twitter.com/DoX6FVAVIO
— Petri Levälahti (@Berduu) June 30, 2020
The move the Last of Us 2 pulled off could tempt other developers into pulling the same trick. If this type of misleading game marketing continues then more problems may arise.
In isolated incidents, the approach the Last of Us 2 took is more than acceptable. It was a sequel meaning established characters already existed and thus allowed this to work more effectively.
However, on the back of how divisive and shocking it has been the fear is more companies will follow suit. If this starts to become rife then the whole meaning of marketing campaigns could shift.
Should users become accustomed to marketing campaigns pulling tricks on us they could soon become ineffectual. That would be a big problem for gaming companies who rely heavily on pre-release strategies to sell games.
Time will tell if the Last of Us 2 has set a trend. However, if they have it could be a problematic one for gamers and gaming companies.