Tag Archives: Gaming

Creativity in Action: Marketing Rise of the Tomb Raider

In 2013 “a survivor was born” when Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix released Tomb Raider, a complete reboot to an already beloved series. The game met with incredible success and news of a sequel. Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced and fans were excited everywhere.

Tomb RaiderThat was until it was announced that Rise was going to be an Xbox One “timed exclusive”, which meant that for the first year of release, Rise was only available to the Xbox. This was met with an overwhelming amount of criticism. So how was Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics going to sell the game? With a really cool marketing campaign.

Tomb RaiderWe’ll start with the Survival Billboard. This was a challenge that was held in London, the home city of Lara Croft, and sponsored by Microsoft in an attempt to promote the game. The challenge sounded simple, eight contestants stood on a billboard. The contestants had to remain on the billboard for as long as they could while facing harsh weather conditions such as cold rain, strong wind, freezing snow and intense heat.

The event was live streamed via Twitch, an internet live streaming service, and played ads for the upcoming video game within the breaks of streaming. Microsoft also launched a website that viewers could go to. The website allowed viewers to choose what weather condition the contestants would have to deal with next. What is incredible is that the event lasted 20 hours and 45 minutes before there was only one contestant left standing. This marketing stunt won Microsoft several Cannes Lions and left one contestant with some hypothermia. The Cannes Lion is an award for those in advertising and communications.

The next bit of advertising that Microsoft threw together was “Escape from Siberia”. In “Escape” four fairly popular YouTube personalities were tasked with surviving the elements for 48 hours. The YouTubers had to complete “obstacles” such as camping, which I guess is an obstacle? Ziplining, rock climbing and archer. The vlogs were uploaded to the “Xbox On” YouTube channel as well as each of the individual YouTube channels.

Now we will head over to “The Climb”, which was aired in 2015 on Comedy Central. The commercial was a cross promotional event with the stars from the show Broad City, in which they are trying to climb up scaffolding while mixing in gameplay for Rise makes for a really funny commercial.

Something that this marketing campaign did that I thought was really cool was it tried to reach the female gaming community, as well as just females in general. If you haven’t watched Broad City, 1. You should and 2. You need to know it has a large female audience.

Another thing that Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics did was to hire Karen O, the frontwoman for the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen wrote the song and performed it for a music video that featured Lara Croft fighting and overcoming challenges from the video game, the song is called “I Shall Rise” The video was uploaded to the “Xbox On” YouTube channel on November 12th 2015. As I was saying this campaign tried to reach a larger female audience than most games do in general. However, I do not know whether or not Rise of the Tomb Raider was successful in gaining a female audience.

Now with any marketing campaign you have to have a presence on social media, and this game had just that. “Lara Croft’s Adventures” was the name given to the Instagram promotions that included several accounts which all linked together. One account was the Tomb Raider Journals in which several pictures are displayed with notes written by Lara to provide context on her current journey.

The next Instagram account was called Tomb Raider Research in which it showed Lara’s “virtual bulletin board, the account had photos, newspaper clippings, artifacts and notes and like the other account all were used to help provide context.

Tomb Raider

With all of these avenues of advertisement at their fingertips, was Microsoft successful? Yes and no, and here is why. It is true from a marketing standpoint that this campaign was brilliant and fun, in fact it won the Game Marketing Awards: “Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign 2016”. It is true that the game was the highest selling Xbox One game during the week of Christmas 2015 and by the end of 2015 the game had sold over 1 million copies. So, it’s not like the company lost money. But the downfall comes from the fact that it was a timed exclusive for one year and on one console. Because when the game was released for the other systems such as PC, the game sold three times the amount in its first month of release.       

I guess in the end the game was a success, even for the Xbox, just not as much sales as they had projected. Crystal Dynamics is already developing a third entry for the rebooted series. Maybe they will think about pairing up with Microsoft again, or Sony, or neither and just release the game to all platforms.

So, what are your thoughts on the rebooted Tomb Raider series? Should Crystal Dynamics partner with a company like Microsoft again or not? Comment below! Peace out homies.

Nick Mussehl

Nintendo is Switching Things Up: But How Effective is the Switch?

What’s all this commotion about a “Nintendo Switch?” If you live under a rock and haven’t heard yet, the Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s new gaming console that is both a home console and portable gaming system hybrid, allowing gamers to play games in their homes and on the go.

“Nintendo’s innovative new console lives up to the hype,” according to many websites like Vice. And they’re not wrong. Just look at the first few minutes of Nintendo Switch’s Presentation Reveal! Can you feel all that hype through all those lights, sound and that countdown?

Why is there such a hype for Nintendo’s console in the first place? Nintendo is a strong brand and has a strong fan base. Nintendo has captured the hearts of many gamers from the Nintendo 64, to the Wii, along with many of their iconic IP characters such as Mario and Link. No wonder the Switch looks successful even before its official launch!

There were many rumors about the Nintendo Switch before the official reveal. While that could be bad for the company, one wonders if those leaks were intentional. It certainly helped enhance the already existing hype for the new console. And the rumors were very detailed, stating before any crucial information about the console was officially revealed that it would be a hybrid console.

While the Wii may have been a huge success for Nintendo, its advertising campaign…wasn’t that great. And don’t let me get started on its successor, the Wii U. Even the name of the console itself wasn’t the best.

Nintendo needed to switch things up. Which is why the Switch is so perfect. It’s innovative and what the consumers want! Plus, the product itself works well, many who have already gotten the chance to hold a Switch have stated that it just feels right.

The name itself is clever and works brilliantly. It’s catchy and tells the consumer what the product is all about: switching up the gameplay. Even their advertisement as well as the Switch short animation logo are quick, simple, effective & catchy. You won’t be able to have that little animation and click sound out of your head.

The Campaign Switch!

Nintendo SwitchThe Switch’s campaign itself was fairly simple. It started out with a system reveal trailer that clearly shows what this new gaming system is all about. However, it is missing commentary and other key information such as an official game lineup and release date. The missing information may have been also used to enhance the already high hype surrounding this console.

This trailer was followed a few months later by an official one hour long Nintendo Switch Presentation which aired and was streamed worldwide live. In it, Nintendo officials showed off and explained various features and games that will be coming out the Nintendo Switch.

Many ads were also released afterwards, as well as some airing during the key time frame for American audiences: The Super bowl. Nintendo also uses a lot of social media, especially twitter to let their fans know when and how new information about the new console will be released.

The ads themselves are also well done. They aren’t too confusing, showing what the product is and its potential.

Switch up the timeline?

The most confusing aspect of Switch’s campaign, is it timeline. Why all the wait? Why was the NX (Nintendo’s Switch working title) not revealed at E3 (a summer gaming convention, known for its gaming consoles and games reveals)? Why was the Switch revealed by a short trailer with no commentary and followed with no new information for months until the presentation?

While many people argue that this is a failure of the Switch’s campaign, I see more potential in its reasoning behind it. I believe this timeline was intentional to add even more hype to the console. Since the console was surrounded by a lot of mystery and many fans, this wait made them even more excited and curious for this console. Even when rumors started surfacing that Nintendo wasn’t going to be able to make a console by March 2017 (since there was no new information regarding the console officially from Nintendo for a long time) and that the NX was already dead, everyone was getting their wallets out, excitingly waiting for any new information they could get. Carefully teasing, one by one its fans, Nintendo found a new and innovate way to hype up their new product before its launch!

The Overall Switch?

Overall the Nintendo Switch has a very effective campaign. The product itself works, its ads are simple and clear and the console is living off its hype. What about you? What do you think? Are you excited for Nintendo’s new console? Do you plan on getting it on its release, March 3 2017? Do you plan on getting it in the future? Do you think it will succeed or is it getting to much hype and will come crashing down as a disappointment?

Clara Tosi

A Marketing Campaign as Convoluted as the Plot of the Game

The Metal Gear franchise has a storied history over the past thirty years. The first release was in 1987 that redefined and created an entirely new genre of video game. The creator of this series is Hideo Kojima and he is well known for his convoluted story arcs as well as character development. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in September of 2015 and is the most recent addition to join the modern console series since 2008 when Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was released.

Metal Gear

In December of 2012 a trailer for a game called “The Phantom Pain” was released, featuring a fake game development studio brand named Moby Dick Studios. This sparked a keen amount of interest in this game that had essentially shown off a spectacularly crafted world but no one had heard of these developers before.

Metal GearIn March of 2013 an interview was arranged between a game journalist and the CEO of Moby Dick Studios. The journalist arrived to the interview to find a man dressed in bandages over his face. His name was Joakim Mogren, and he bore a striking resemblance to one of the characters in the trailer. Joakim refused to answer any of the journalist’s questions but he did reveal that there would be a more official announcement later that month, and he showed some photos from the game indicating that it would be running on the Fox engine.

This interview had a number of journalists speculating as to what exactly happened and how strange the interaction was. Later that month the official announcement was made at the Game Developers Conference. It was unveiled by Hideo Kojima himself with a terrifying mask dressed in bandages similar to Joakim. Hideo announced MGSV: The Phantom Pain and the community surrounding the MGS series rejoiced as they eagerly began to speculate on the events leading up to and during the game’s storyline.

Metal Gear

When the release date for MGSV was announced, they also unveiled a skimpily dressed character design for Quiet which caused a fair amount of controversy. When pressed about this, Kojima mentioned that when the game was released people would regret their assumption that she was just a sex object. But in my opinion this has yet to be seen. However, the controversy more than likely helped the game’s presence in social media and increased their visibility.

Metal Gear So, the marketing team for MGSV had to rekindle the community it had once garnished with gamers to raise awareness of the upcoming release. To do this they released a playable teaser type of game that was retailed for full price in 2014 called MGSV: Ground Zeroes. In my opinion this was a very intelligent thing to do, because not only were they able to create a product that hints at a later release. But it also gauged interest and people’s willingness to purchase a full priced game that wasn’t a complete product.

Another fairly clever aspect of MGSV: Ground Zeroes is that the game is almost entirely packed with easter eggs of self-referential content as well as a huge amount of fan service that was definitely appreciated. One specific mission in the game has you pointing a special sort of flashlight at logos of Kojima Productions as well as the various titles of games that have been made in the Metal Gear franchise.

When you point your flashlight at these titles or logos a voice will say something along the lines of “this one’s not very special” or “nice job, that’s another one” depending on whether Hideo Kojima himself worked on the game. If you find all of the relevant titles Hideo Kojima himself will speak and assume that you’ve got extensive knowledge of the series. Then he will thank the player for their knowledge of the series and their support throughout the years.

Metal GearThe amount of time that this campaign took to painstakingly create some semblance of news throughout a course of 3 years is astonishing. The constant trickle of tidbits kept the fans of the series speculating and the critically acclaimed reviews of the game helped with the recommendations through word of mouth. The game itself cost $80 million to create and on the initial release date $179 million were made and a total of 6 million units had been sold in the following months. All in all, I would say that the campaign was outlandish, counterintuitive and at times completely absurd but that’s just what fans come to expect from Hideo Kojima.

Brigham Swanson

Amazon’s Video Game Power Grab with Twitch Prime

In 2014, Amazon bought the massive streaming service known as Twitch. Three years later Twitch now has a paid membership known as Twitch Prime that is free if one is already an Amazon Prime member. Meanwhile, Twitch has reached out to a multitude of video game companies in an attempt to gather a larger audience.

Twitch and video games are already tied together. Twitch is primarily used to stream video games of all varieties, but YouTube also has a massive presence in the video game community. Google owns YouTube and Amazon is competing with Google. That is the strategy behind why Amazon bought Twitch. One of Google’s largest properties is YouTube, and Twitch is something that can compete with and maybe someday rival YouTube. Amazon wants to take on Google, so they started by competing with one of its largest money makers.

But will this strategy work?

With Twitch Prime, this strategy may stand a chance. Twitch has been expanding in recent years, but YouTube is still a colossus. It is reasonable to think that YouTube can’t be competed with, but if that was true then why did Google try to buy Twitch?

Twitch

Twitch has a great foothold in the videogame market that is actively growing thanks to Twitch Prime. This new service that is directly related to Amazon Prime allows members free  “game loot” by making partnerships with various video game companies. This cross promotion is important and done with multiple gaming companies. I will be using Hi-Rez as an example.

TwitchHi-Rez is the gaming studio responsible for the hit MOBA Smite. While only a few years old, Smite has over 25 million players and is growing. In the month of January, Twitch Prime focused on promoting Smite. Exclusive skins, chest rolls, and access to an event were given to Twitch Prime members. These things would either have to be bought or were not attainable otherwise.

Twitch Prime also went as far as to host Smite’s World Championship in association with Coca-Cola. This is a huge step that promotes Twitch Prime, Hi-Rez, and Amazon all at once. Amazon Prime members get Twitch Prime for free, so if a subscriber has an interest in video games obtaining Twitch Prime is easy and painless. Once that subscriber has Twitch Prime, they would be immediately made aware of Smite and its world championship that they could watch for free. After watching, they may be interested in the game which is free too.

This chain of events is beneficial to all three companies without forcing the individual to jump through a multitude of hoops. It is a creative, yet simple way Amazon is using Twitch to compete with YouTube and by extension, compete with Google.

So far, the strategy is effective. It worked on me, as I am an avid Smite player and had not heard about Twitch Prime until Hi-Rez began to advertise it. I already have an Amazon Prime membership, so it was easy for me to get Twitch Prime.

It is working now; however, that does not mean it will continue to work. The biggest roadblock that Amazon has is that it is trying to compete with Google. While Google is already a difficult company to compete with, YouTube is its own headache. While Twitch is growing, it has a long way to go before it can overpower YouTube.

That begs the question, is it possible to overpower YouTube? Can Amazon compete with Google like this? Will Twitch only rest in its large, but specific video game market? YouTube meanwhile has a multitude of video markets with video games being only one.

Only time will tell if Amazon’s strategy will continue to work. Companies like Hi-Rez will continue to benefit in the meantime. The trifecta of marketing is running smoothly, but will it ever gain enough momentum to overpower its rivals?

Sam King

Double Jump: Xbox and Backwards Compatible Gaming Consoles

Backwards compatibility is a huge thing in the gaming industry. Microsoft knows this, and that is why they start working on it after they get all of the bugs out of the software. They are now talking about doing something that has never been done before, and that is making Original Xbox games compatible with the Xbox One. That is jumping backwards two systems, what I like to call “Double Jump.”

Xbox engineering boss Mike Ybarra says, “We’re not looking at original Xbox games on Xbox One yet. Right now the focus is making more Xbox 360 games work. It would be certainly very challenging. Getting Xbox 360 games to work was incredibly challenging and really a multi-year engineering investment. Going all the way back to the original certainly would challenge the team.”

xboxMicrosoft would be the perfect company to try this. All of the Xbox consoles are basically PC’s with basic software. All of the engineers know this software by heart; this is what they are known for. They have already made the Original Xbox games backwards compatible to the Xbox 360 and the Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One, which they are currently working on now. So they know the software in all three and what they had to do for the “Single jump,” now they just need to combine it somehow and figure it out.

If Microsoft did this, they would have another thing over Sony in their PlayStation vs. Xbox rivalry. PlayStation devices have such a complicated software that it is nearly impossible to make any of their games compatible with previous systems. The only thing PlayStation has done is created a gaming streaming service called PlayStation Now. The only issue with this is that the service is an extra $19.99 per month or $44.99 for a three-month package. This service only includes PS3 games as of right now, but this is the best thing they can do because of their software.

When Xbox made the Xbox 360 backwards compatible, it went very well and now that they are doing the Xbox One, the sales for the older games have gone up tremendously. When Microsoft announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 was being added to the list of backwards compatible games, the sales for the game on Amazon went up 13,600%. This made it to second in the list of Amazon’s hourly charts right under Doom which was just recently released. Backwards compatibility brings the old games back to the market instead of just sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

Some people might ask, “Why not just remaster the game?” Well for one making a game in the first place is very expensive. In 1999, Crash Team Racing cost the production company $2.4 Million for development; now games cost way more. Destiny in 2012 cost $140 Million, so honestly with today’s technology and expectations from fans, it would not be worth it when they can just copy the software from the old system.

Another reason is that it takes a lot of time and manpower that could be being used for new games. Grand Theft Auto IV took four years to produce. They started in November of 2004, and the game was finally released in 2008, plus that is with about 150 people on the development team.

xboxAll in all, if Microsoft ever does this, people will go crazy. As I mentioned before, this would be the first time that this has ever been done. Microsoft can do it, they know all of the software and have the brains to do it. The old games would come out of hibernation and start making a little money again.

Brett Olson

Gaming Your Emotions: Life is Strange and the Graphic Adventure Genre

I have always been far more intrigued by emotional appeal and the effects of good storytelling than by explosions, violence, or action. Perhaps that is why I was never a big gamer growing up. Now, before you eviscerate me in the comments, I am FULLY aware that games are much more than the three things I listed above, but what I am saying is this: in entertainment, I was looking for emotional appeal, and I got that mostly from movies.

All of that changed this past August, however, when I played a game called Life is Strange.

Life is Strange is an episodic Graphic Adventure game by a small production company called Dontnod Entertainment. The game revolves around a high school senior named Maxine (Max) Caulfield, who suddenly discovers she has the ability to ‘rewind’ time and alter the events of the past. The vast majority of the game is spent making decisions for Max which will ultimately affect events that occur later in the game (a staple of the Graphic Adventure genre).

I won’t go into the details of the story from there (you should play it for yourself!), but suffice it to say, I was hooked. I played the entire 14-hour story, all five episodes, in about three days. I never game that way. I was a recluse, sealed away in my dark basement with cans of 7Up piled around me, wearing PJs and headphones and only leaving to eat and (occasionally) socialize. But my time as a hermit got me thinking: why did this particular game affect me so much? And did it have the same effect on others?

I had to investigate.

life-is-strange

After finishing the game and wiping literal tears from my eyes (seriously, it’s great, play it), I took to Google to see if other people shared my experience. The results, it turned out, were astonishing. Of course, not everyone shared my experience, but it seemed like quite a few people, more than one might think, were deeply and truly affected by this game.

But, as amazing as Life is Strange is, why is it not the explosive hit that so many lesser other titles are? Shouldn’t everyone want to play this incredible, life-altering game?

The issue lies in the type of game that Life is Strange is. Graphic Adventure games lack much of what the general public wants from video games: they are lengthy, they lack action, they are dialogue and cut-scene driven, and they tend to tug at the heart strings more than the adrenal glands. They are, in many ways, video games’ answer to weird, arthouse cinema (which, incidentally, happens to be my favorite kind of cinema…). But is that a model that can still be profitable?

For the developers, yes. For the gaming industry as a whole? Of course not.

According to an article published on mcv.com, Life is Strange sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide. This is a fantastic achievement for a little-known indie game from an even lesser known developer. But that achievement can seem minimal when compared to the successes of genre-giant Telltale Games, whose Graphic Adventure adaptations of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wolf Among Us have enjoyed massive critical acclaim and financial gains.

the walking dead promo art

But there is always another perspective. Yes, Telltale achieved a huge victory with The Walking Dead, their most successful game, selling around 8.5 million copies and bringing in more than $40 million. However, the newest Call of Duty game sold 21 million copies and brought in $840 million. So while The Walking Dead was a huge victory for Telltale, it barely ranked in the greater gaming industry. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however. As long as these games keep making money for their developers, we will keep seeing them.

What it does mean, though, is that these games aren’t going to be the huge hits we want them to be quite yet. Graphic Adventures are amazing, and people should play them, but they haven’t quite reached ‘water-cooler conversation’ status. We have a tendency to believe that, when something is really good, people should just naturally flock to that thing (we can call that the Netflix phenomena). But that’s not how pop-culture works. You need staying power, you need big money behind you, and you need a solid reputation. Telltales’ reputation is solid, yes, but it’s being shaken more and more as Telltale wades into the mainstream.

Like I said, none of this even remotely spells doom for Telltale or any other Graphic Adventure developer, but perhaps we should reign in our expectations just a tad.

So enjoy your trips to Arcadia Bay, fight your way through the hordes of Walkers, and brace yourself (winter is coming). After all, maybe we shouldn’t be so anxious for these games to explode into popularity. Graphic Adventure games are, after all, about you. Your experience, your adventures, and your emotions.

What you decide to do with that experience after the game is over, is entirely up to you.

Carrsan T. Morrissey

It’s the Only Game in Town: MLB Monopoly on PlayStation

PlayStation’s exclusive release of MLB: The Show 16 continues to stir the pot and pens of disgruntled Xbox gamers, pushing many so far as to jump online and start signing petitions at the online petitioning site, Change.org. Xboxers by the hundreds have posted, begged and pleaded their case for a baseball game to rival MLB: The Show, on the XBOX USERVOICE, the device’s feedback site. The disappointment for some can be felt from coast to coast.

mlb the show 16“Some of us have been begging for a true MLB game for years and fallen on deaf ears,” a Twitter user wrote to Xbox Head Phil Spencer in March. The executive dismissed the idea that Microsoft hasn’t heard these suggestions and claimed that a third-party game would be something Microsoft would support.

Here’s the big beef: For those without access to a PS3 or 4 they can’t play MLB: The Show 16, developed by Sony San Diego and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America. Sony has a monopoly.

But who wouldn’t want a virtual version of America’s favorite pastime? Classic stadiums, the addition of new legends hype the nostalgia prone gamer. I understand why non-PS3 and 4 owners are miffed.

Sony’s PlayStation MLB: The Show is the most popular baseball video game to ever hit the shelves. The launch date for this whopper 11th edition of the MLB: The Show franchise was on March 29, 2016. No statistics were released for Xbox’s RBI third party game, but MLB 16: The Show hit a homerun in sales compared to 2015 sales. Check out the sales numbers thanks to VGchartz.com.

mlb the show sales

Sony has hit a dinger in branding, advertising, licensing, trademarking and partnering with MLB to promote a game that is so great it nearly sells itself. Sony advertises MLB: The Show across all platforms, from T.V. commercials to online advertisements. MLB: The Show is packaged and promoted in various bundles (GameStop Bundle) or individually, enhancing total unit sales.

mlb crybabyStop being crybabies all you without a PS3 or 4! It’s not like Sony misled you. Sony has been quiet and happy with their MLB: The Show series. It’s the Xbox creators who haven’t stepped up. Sony has been more than upfront by noting, Only on PlayStation on all packaging. Xbox has come to the realization that MLB: The Show is only going to be provided on PlayStation gaming devices.

Xbox has made it clear that their answer to PlayStation’s MLB: The Show is RBI. Xbox has gone on to notice that baseball games are “not hits”. Xbox has partnered with HB Studios to create their version of America’s favorite pastime sport, and I mean past time…the graphics look like the Stretch Armstrong action figures! Check out the difference in the trailers between Xbox’s RBI and PlayStation’s MLB 16:

XBox third-party game: RBI vs. PlayStation MLB 16: The Show

Anyone who develops a product should be able to sell it to whomever they want, whenever they want and for whatever price they want. A strong product design, pitched at a loyal demographic group, will always keep gamers and customers coming back for more.

Now, back to my Monopoly reference. A quick definition check of the word monopoly gives us the following: the exclusive possession or control of something; a company or group that has such control; the market condition that exists when there is only one seller. BINGO, Sony PlayStation and MLB: The Show—thanks for continuing to hit home runs!

So my fellow players and gamers, get off the bench and splurge for a PS3 or PS4 so you too can get in on the action with MLB: The Show 16. Keep in mind, baseball is one of the few clock-less sports. And that’s how I like my gaming.

“To win, nothing else matters, and nothing else will do.” – Sanford “Sandy” Koufax, 1935, American baseball left-handed pitcher.

Don’t have a PS3 or 4, why so? Feel that you’ve been let down by Xbox? If so, why?

Marshal Lamb

The Tony Hawk Franchise Fizzles Out

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a skateboarding video game series credited with having the most successful skating video game of all time, both critically and commercially. That particular game is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, released in 2000.

Tony Hawk Pro SkateSo where did an innovative gaming franchise go wrong? Why was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 released with barely a blip on the radar? I will share my two cents on this, along with other voices of the internet.

If anything, the development team behind this series should be celebrating the game’s history and hyping that aspect as much as they can. Instead, the release of THPS5 felt like a feeble attempt at the last hoorah of a has-been game series that tried to reinvent itself too many times, and ultimately failed to recreate the successful gameplay and excitement of its initial titles.

The promotion of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 started with a clip on instagram five months before release. The clip shows a real-life parody of the skater selection screen of the early Tony Hawk titles, where the player can change the skateboard and style of the clothes for their skater. The clip started some buzz on the rumor of a future game. Later, five separate trailers were released (Launch, Skaters, Skaters 2, THPS, Behind the Scenes), along with a spot with Conan O’Brien and Lil Wayne.

But once the gameplay was seen, it received mixed reviews. People new to the franchise may have been interested, while the general consensus of the hardcore fans was similar to Dave Roth’s sentiments below.

Dave Roth QuoteAs a fan of the series for 16 years now, I reserved my judgement until I could actually get my hands on a copy of the game to play and see for myself. Sadly, I was disappointed. It did not live up to the nostalgia of the great games from my youth. While the new game did bring some cool features, like the online skatepark, multiplayer online sandbox, format gameplay, and downloadable user created skateparks, the game was glitchy, full of bugs, and had almost zero replay value. While the game was intended to be more approachable and easy to pick up and play, it felt oversimplified, with ridiculous physics that exaggerated the arcade style they claimed to be shooting for.

You don’t have to look too far to find a theme among the reviews of the game’s quality. On Metacritic it received 31/100, with a 1.5 out of 5 star user rating. On IGN, it received 3.5/10. There are rumors from YouTube and reddit that suggest the game was rushed to cash in on one more title before Activision’s contract ended at the end of 2015. This would explain the game’s poor quality and reception from fans.

It’s easy to sell a great product, which THPS5 had the potential to be. Great products sell themselves. It is far more difficult to sell a product that is not great and has disengaged fans. Tony Hawk fans felt that the new game seemed to be catering to a new younger crowd with an easier rating and cartoon-like graphics. Unfortunately, that is what THPS5 actually was. Activision assigned THPS5 and the two previous games, Tony Hawk Ride and Tony Hawk Shred, to game developer Robomodo. Robomodo attempted to bridge the success of the originals in the series with the new gaming technology of today, but they created a mutt that didn’t get very far.

Tony Hawk Pro SkaterThe promotion for THPS1 included demo discs which fans could play months before release and voice their opinion to Activision for feedback. This engaging strategy was highly successful in the past. Had the promotion campaign for THPS5 attempted to engage its audience more proactively like this, I would likely be writing about that success, instead of one that failed to build hype and engage its fans.

With this last iteration of the series, it is rumored that THPS may be done for good, and that may be a good thing. Despite the sour taste left from THPS5, the first titles of that franchise will forever be remembered, in my mind and the minds of many, as the best skateboarding video games in history.

Devin Harschnek