Is a multiplayer game tougher to market?

Titanfall is, without question, one of the most anticipated games of the year (it will be launched on March 11). Let’s sum up:

  • It’s a multiplayer-centric first-person shooter, a combination that has proven successful when executed smoothly.
  • It’s exclusive for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Actually, Microsoft hopes that it becomes a system seller for Xbox One (it’s even getting its own controller).
  • It’s going to be published by Electronic Arts (the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue after Nintendo and Activision Blizzard).
  • It’s being developed by part of the original team that turned the Call of Duty franchise into a billion-dollar business.
  • It’s been receiveing extremely positive buzz from the press, winning over 75 awards after its E3 2013 reveal.
  • And last but not least, it will let players fight each other as elite assault Pilots or as HEAVILY ARMORED TITANS.

So, it’s a game that’s being created by a team more than skilled in that genre, backed by Microsoft and Electronic Arts and with enough hype to fill a stadium. Therefore, a dream came true for marketing, right?

Apparently, no.

According to producer Drew McCoy, the multiplayer nature of the game forced the team to take a different approach to get the game noticed.

It’s actually been really tough trying to accurately market Titanfall. If you look at what we’ve done, its a lot different than what most FPS games do. Without a bunch of highly scripted singleplayer moments to recam from different angles, the usual ‘movie like’ trailer is just about right out.

Although Titanfall will provide some narrative moments, the main core of the experience is to play with other people, and that’s what they’re trying to emphasize (along with driving HEAVILY ARMORED TITANS, of course). So, their current marketing strategy consists in releasing full unedited 3-5 minutes segments, showing the flow of the game.

What I find interesting about this is that, when McCoy says that they have  had problems ‘accurately’ marketing Titanfall, what he’s really saying is that, because of its multiplayer nature, they had no choice but to use actual game situations to get audience’s attention.
The marketing guys didn't get the chance to build their own Titan (?)

Marketing guys didn’t get the chance to build their own Titan (?)

And actually… that sounds like a good thing to me. There are lots of games that were marketed in a dubious way, frustrating players (because they weren’t getting what they were expecting) and creators (because their game was being advertised as something else) alike. As a matter of fact, in the only trailer they published (the one at the top of this post) there are no first-person sequences… and it’s a first-person shooter! But I’ll write later about that.

Titanfall is a hardcore game (there’s nothing casual about it) that’s being marketed to its potential hardcore audience through actual footage, even minimizing risks. Instead of showing a more controlled experience (i.e. a regular trailer, like the one they used for presenting the game), they are simply showcasing gameplay.

I understand that it may be a change from the more classic way of advertising a game like this one (and that, at some stage, an edited video can be useful for awareness) but I hope in the future more companies start to be more transparent regarding their actual products. Or, as McCoy himself admits,

There’s no amount of polished marketing that can replace playing the actual game.

Source: IGN