Amid news of studios cracking down on negative reviews, and other companies releasing incomplete games under the guise of a final product, it's great to see a developer do really well thanks to its conscientious handling of promotion. The Stanley Parable is one such instance, where consideration of its audience has led to more press and promotion than you could ever buy.
First up, developer Galactic Cafe released a demo for the game. This is practically unheard of these days and according to some, a downright bad business practice, as studies have shown this can actually harm your sales, as it gives people a taste of a game that they then either like or dislike. If they've never tried it before, you can hype them all up on teasers and trick them into buying it because it may or may not be good. They don't know yet.
That's not what happened with The Stanley Parable. Instead, Galactic Cafe released a pretty fully formed demo, showcasing much of the type of action you'd expect in the main game, but without actually using any parts of the final product (if you discount art assets). It was also made very clear throughout – partly thanks to the ease at which the game breaks the fourth wall – that this was indeed a demo and that the main game would be much bigger, much more exciting and much more action packed. While that's true in some senses, the demo managed to convey a feeling for the game, entice you to play the full thing and give you the sense that the developer wants to share its work with you; not just extract money from your account.
When it came to trailers, Galactic Cafe got it right too. Showing weird things that aren't present in the final game – well, they sort of are, but not really.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF1L2LSP4eY']
Then there's the launch trailer itself, which is seemingly nonsensical, but equally intriguing and a little disturbing.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBtX0S2J32Y‘]
On top of all this trailering and demoing though, Galactic Cafe's chieftain, Davey Wreden, recently announced that he has absolutely no problem with anyone putting videos of the game online, spoiling anything and everything if they want to, and he's happy for them to monetise those videos too.
This was posted up on the Galactic Cafe blog yesterday:
“I, Davey Wreden, founder of Galactic Cafe, give full permission for anyone to record, stream, and upload any videos of our games (including Stanley Parable) to anywhere on the internet, and to monetize these videos with ads. No need to ask our permission, go forth, and cultivate revenue. Sow the seeds of your own financial viability. Monetize, and all is right with the world.
October 22, 2013”
This was just a confirmation of previous intentions though. The makers of the game had already reached out to several prominent Let's Players on Youtube and had them run through the game and see what they thought. On top of that though, Galactic Cafe had the narrator record lines specifically for the let's play, personalising it and making that content unique. Personalised marketing is a brilliant idea and it's amazing more companies with much bigger budgets and teams than Galactic Cafe don't do it.
What does this all mean for the game though? All this good will? All this effort into making unique content for the demo and the trailers and letting people do what they want with your art once you've released it? Decent sales numbers. Stanley Parable is a remake of a Source mod and it sold over 100,000 copies in just a few days
If you want to try out The Stanley Parable, you can pick it up with a 20 per cent first week discount (who does that? Good job GC) on Steam here.
KitGuru Says: I wont' say much about the game itself as that would spoil it, but it's a fun ride while it lasts, even if it does leave you scratching your head over what you just “played,” if indeed you did play anything at all.