Hi-Fi Rusha game based on the concept of pure joyTwo things caught her eye last week. She, it’s really, really good! And second, it achieved the rarest feat of any video game: a successful surprise release.
By surprise, I mean absolute surprise. For a minute nobody knew the game existed, next it was available to download and play on Xbox and PC. How many times does that happen in this year of our Lord 2023…anything? All over? Never that often!
As a result, the game doesn’t feel like a breath of fresh air, it feels like a gust of wind blowing off our feet, and while I don’t want to underestimate any aspect of the game itself in discussing its success, let’s do it To be honest, this game feels fresh not only because it’s a great game, but because it hasn’t been wrung out by a lengthy marketing campaign for 12 months.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to disparage anyone who works in video game marketing directly: you have to sell video games, and for the vast majority of cases, they’re people who do a very good job. Whether it’s putting together blockbuster trailers or just chatting with (potential) fans on social media, it’s a tough job and one that in most cases I fully understand and can empathize with, especially given the system they operate in – selling games er Store fronts obsessed with pre-orders and Wishlists—demands it.
But I am not responsible for making a single advertising campaign. I’m on the receiving end of like you thousands of them, all at once, everywhere we look. From previews on major sites to YouTube and Twitter to Discord, anyone interested in video gaming on the web is under siege from the second we log in to the second we log out. Here’s a thing, pre-order it, learn more about this thing, pre-order it.
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I’ve covered this in my deathblood saga pieces before, but there is always a certain predictability to video game marketing. Not in terms of specific aspects of their campaign — a AAA blockbuster obviously has a different marketing budget than a small indie release — but in the way they can so often leave us jaded.
It’s not enough for us to be shown the world, genre and premise of a game. We need to be told the backstory of each main character. Shown is a lore explainer for the world. We are told how many lines of dialogue there are in the script, how many thousands of hours it could take to complete, who each voice actor is. We’re conditioned, and in many cases expected, to be fans of a game we haven’t even played at the time of release. What of course is the crux of the matter.
Imagine instead of appearing out of nowhere, Hi-Fi Rush subjected to a traditional Bethesda marketing campaign. Imagine it being unveiled at The Game Awards in December 2021, its bright light dimmed by the weight of the larger, more expensive games it was unveiled alongside. Imagine being exposed to Chai’s worst lines as part of a character reveal trailer on YouTube instead of dealing with his Fry-From-futurama-like charms throughout the opening hours of the game. What if, instead of taking so much pleasure in revealing its cast and world on its own terms, the game had already spoiled that for us with a Meet Project Armstrong documentary?
It would have sucked! The game itself would still have been great, of course, but so much of the joy of discovery that came with its release, a modern-day schoolyard buzz, would have been lost. To be clear, like I said before, I’m not saying anything to shame any particular worker, studio or agency involved in the marketing of another video game. The trees are not the problem here. It’s the forest.
what does Hi-Fi Rush with special. It’s one of the few games that could get away with it. Note: I wasn’t calling for an end to video game marketing here, or saying that more games should try it, as the former would be pointless (it’s a big forest!) and the latter would be reckless advice. As much as Hi-Fi Rush feels like a remastered GameCube game, and unlike anything else out there, it was developed by a well-known AAA studio and published by Bethesda, and then released on Xbox Game Pass for people to try for “free.” It was blessed to be perhaps the only possible combination of style, scope and pedigree that could afford to even try, let alone hope to get away with it.
So I don’t want to say it Hi-Fi Rush should be one example. I just want to say that we should all appreciate this game the way it is and the way it came to us because in both cases the circumstances are as perfect as we ever hoped and we may never be coordinate with each other see that again. Surprises are nice, but few are quite as nice as a good video game surprise.
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