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How Sega TV adverts overcame bad Aliens CM reviews

While the industry itself might be experiencing wobbles, games still rake in a huge amount of money. But the traditional methods of promotion might be in trouble if the apparent lessons learned from the ‘Aliens: Colonial Marines’ launch prove accurate. KitGuru considers the power of a well placed ad campaign.

Some of the media reaction to the latest instalment of the Alien franchise was hostile to say the least.

Having read a lot of reviews and commentary, London’s largest newspaper, Metro, really managed to hammer home the point. Try not to smile while reading this:-

“Regarding the furore surrounding the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, I’ve come to the opinion that what happened with this game basically amounts to false advertising. It was promoted as a Gearbox game, not a TimeGate game. It was sold off the back of what’s turned out to be a demo created for a high-end PC on non-commercially available parts that had no possibility of ever looking like that on consumer grade PCs, never mind consoles. It was supposed to be developed by a team that ‘loved and respected’ the franchise, instead it was farmed out to whoever could do the job cheapest with no thought or care at all.”

Another review – this time for the XBox 360 version – kicked off, “Five minutes into Aliens: Colonial Marines the game makes a mistake from which it cannot recover”.

Just one more before we move on, “This latest of oh-so-many embarrassments bearing the much-abused Aliens name was six years in development, but you’d be forgiven for thinking Aliens: Colonial Marines was churned out in six months”.

OK. We get it. Bad game.

TV advertising managed to grab independent reviews by the throat with this launch


So here’s a question, ‘If you were running marketing for Sega on this title – and you had a fair idea that the critics were going to smash it- how would you spend your advertising dollars?’

Or, to put it another way, ‘How did this game manage to top the charts?’ – albeit briefly.

Instead of running campaigns over several months to build interest and intrigue, the chaps at Sega engaged a genius create agency called Uber and set about making a hardcore TV campaign that would last just 4 days.

Yep. That’s right.

4 days.

The purpose?

We reckon the marketing folks involved knew the game would not stand up to intense scrutiny, so why give people time to research their purchase?

Big campaign, with a highly focused spend (that shows images that will only be available to those with one of the most amazing PCs on the planet) – and let’s see what happens.

Here’s the trailer that got the job done. Did it work for you?

[yframe url=’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfOOOAN9e9w’]

KitGuru says: Hitting number one spot, even only for a moment, must be the aim of any game launch. Once the initial rush of ‘Not quite gullible, but maybe didn’t spend as much time checking out the game as we should have’ folks was over, sales dropped by almost 90%. But without the Uber campaign, it would never had hit near its launch revenue – so you have to say it worked. On the other hand, smart folks who read the reviews, made better purchasing decisions. Rock on reviewers, is what we say.

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