I am positive that everyone reading this has heard of or even played a video game that was created as a transmedia branch of an existing universe. My question is, does this existing base that these games are created on impact on their popularity and reaction from players? Can a game influence an existing fan base of a fictional universe in such a way that a game becomes popular? Well, this week there are so many examples of games similar to this that this post is going to have some serious depth so buckle your seatbelts.
Some of the most popular franchises/stories in the world have eventually been adapted into video game form. Story world like Harry Potter, Start Wars, The Witcher, Assassins Creed, many superhero games like Batman and Spiderman were all also based of previously existing universes. So, this now begs the question, does the adaptation into a video game appeal to the existing fan base and impact its popularity. Did the game developers target their advertising efforts to the existing fanbase or attempt to branch out first to reach a new audience? It is a very effective technique for both the development of the game and the marketing of it as much of the design and play through concept and the target audience has already been established.
To really see if there are any marketing differences, we need to identify some examples of my theory. To begin with, I am going to analyse the classic adaptation of the Star Wars universe, Lego Star Wars. Now, before anything, I know that this game is very different from the likes of the Witcher or Batman, but it is still just as an important example for the point that I am attempting to make. The Lego video game brand has made games that span across many different franchises and has been widely successful. The Star Wars brand has also had many different games on multiple platforms like the most recent Star Wars Battle Front. Lego Star Wars however is much older and, for many, holds some serious sentimental value to much of the fan base. In its original release back in 2005, Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was a smash hit. It was released on the, back then anyway, newest and most popular consoles like the Nintendo DSi, X-Box, PS2 and others alike. So, how did it do sales wise? Well, because this game is amazing and STILL holds up, it would come as no surprise that, combined with the other three Lego Star Wars games that followed, the sales have recently surpassed 30 Million units sold. That is a huge success and it can be put down to how it was marketed. There are, from my assessment, 3 main reasons why it was able to be marketed so well.
- Being a Transmedia example, the ability to adapt a story world into a new medium is always going to sit well with the fan base.
- The multiple platforms that the game was released on meant the potential Audience was far greater.
- A brilliant marketing campaign fed the sales rush for the game.
Here is what worked, Lego, an established brand, released a marketing campaign that wasn’t only promoting the game, but the toys that Lego are so well known for. The Lego Companies ability to synchronize the release of the game with the Lego sets that kids would see and interact with in the game was a brilliant move. Honestly, these indirect marketing moves can be almost more effective than just advertising the game.
This is not the only game that has been adapted into the Lego universe, I know I have been going on a lot about Lego when there are many other examples, but I mean, Lego is awesome OK? Anyway, the Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and others have all been adapted into little Lego figurines to fit on our devices. But, for the final little bit of analysis, I want to stick with the Star Wars universe.
I briefly mentioned other adaptations of the Star Wars universe into video game form. Over 140 different variations of the game have been created off the fictional world and some were hits and some were absolute flobs *cough* Kinect Star Wars on the X-Box 360 *cough*. For those of you who don’t know, there was a dance off mini game involved in this one… enough said. But games like Battlefront II basically sold themselves as the timing of its release was close to the most recent Star Wars movies, it is a similar premise to the Lego Star Wars releasing toys at the same time, the two work hand in hand and this just boost sales like nothing before. I mean, 9 million copies sold in the first month is an insane sales record, 4th largest ever actually.
So, there we have it, the impact that a movie or existing universe has on a video game and the way its marketed is amazing. In the grand scheme of things, I cannot be more excited or the introduction of a more open world Harry Potter game… just going to keep dropping hints.
Until next time, stay classy.