Tag Archives: XBOX

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

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

Thwip to the PS4: Sony Nets an Exclusive for Their Console

Here comes Spiderman! “Only on the PS4,” says the gaming news website Polygon. So…yeah…

Why would Marvel allow a Spiderman game to be only available on the PlayStation 4 gaming console? This should come across as an outrage to everyone who owns an Xbox. Which yeah, it is.

Spiderman PS4

So, I decided to research why the new Spiderman game is PS4 exclusive, and the history Marvel and Sony have together. Spiderman PS4 was created as a AAA game with Sony, Marvel, and Insomniac Games all playing a part.

There are not many details about the game right now. GameSpot has reported that this game will not be tied to the movie Spiderman: Homecoming, but will be a completely stand-alone game with an older, experienced Peter Parker.

Marvel doesn’t want to stop just with Spiderman. They want to create an entire gaming universe. According to VentureBeat, the seeds for a video-gaming Marvel universe have been planted. Marvel seems to be connecting through mobile games and micro-transactions.

Basically, premium in-game currency will be the same for all Marvel games. This however does not really impact me because I don’t play mobile games. This could lead to more exclusive deals with Sony and Marvel for the PS4. Sure, the PS4 is not a mobile device, but this could lead to more PS4 only games.

According to CinemaBlend, the studios worked out a deal that will have each respective studio receiving the profits from the movies they make with Spider-Man.

So Marvel doesn’t have to share profits with Sony for Civil War or The Avengers. At the same time, Sony will benefit completely from the profits made by the solo Spider-Man movies, which appear to be being made under the Sony umbrella.

In essence, the two studios have agreed on a system that allows them to share Spider-Man, and each use them to their own ends. So, Sony and Marvel realized that sharing is caring.

Personally, I have a really good feeling about the new Spiderman game and movie. This could provide Marvel to gain an upper hand on the PS4 network compared to D.C. Comics. Who knows?

Marvel could completely dominate the gaming universe depending on how well the games do. More posts will be coming soon about the new Spiderman PS4 game. Hopefully we’ll get a sneak peek at the new game. Please have a really cool Green Goblin!

Feel free to comment below. What do you think about Marvel and Sony working together? Are you excited for the new PS4 game?

Kyle Konigsmark

An “Invitation” to the XBOX One

On November 22, 2013 Microsoft released the XBOX One. The release of a next generation console is a hard transition for gamers and hard to sell because people are hesitant to purchase it because they are unsure of what the aspects are or what other console systems will become available that year. Microsoft decided to create an interesting way to advertise and invite players into the world of the next generation system the XBOX One.

xboxoneOne month before launch, on October 25, Microsoft released a T.V. advertisement that they called “The Invitation.” In the ad there were several appearances of characters that would be featured in the games that would be dropping with the XBOX One. These games include Ryse son of Rome, Titanfall, Forza, and Dead Rising 3. The games released initially with the console were exclusive to the XBOX One. Throughout the advertisement game characters motion towards people, inviting them into the world of the XBOX One.

The advertisement was extremely clever in finding a creative and innovative way to get people interested in a next generation system. The commercial invites people of all ages and occupations to get a XBOX One and become immersed. The opening scene of the commercial is set in a business meeting, indicating that even middle-aged businessmen can enjoy the XBOX.

At the time of launch, the big question for gamers was whether to buy the XBOX One or the PlayStation 4, and right before the holiday season it was an even bigger question for parents. The XBOX One and the PlayStation 4 were both released right before the 2013 holiday season. The Playstation 4 sold 4.2 million units in 2013 compared to the XBOX One, which sold 3 million units.

Microsoft decided to gear up for 2014 by releasing another Commercial for the XBOX One. The second ad was similar to the invitation commercial, but they also create a way to make the next generation system feel more realistic. The commercial featured the XBOX One exclusive game Ryse son of Rome.

The key line in this commercial is “if it was any more real, it would be real.” Microsoft is trying to present the next generation system as a system that is as real as real life. Throughout the commercial the man gets cuts on his body and whenever he gets a cut the commercial flashes to action scenes in the game. At the end of the commercial they show a scene of the game where a Roman soldier is putting on his helmet, and the guy in the mirror gets pumped and then returns back to game. Microsoft is appealing to people who are uncertain about the XBOX One by claiming that it is incredibly realistic because it is a next generation system.

XBOX One sales did not increase until they dropped the price. People were clearly interested in the XBOX One by their creative campaign, but the price was apparently an issue for many consumers.

Daniel Hampe

Is Microsoft Paying More Attention to Female Gamers?

In an interview the week before the release of Halo 4, Bonnie Ross, from Microsoft’s 343 Industries, and Kiki Wolfkill, Halo 4’s executive producer, boldly announced that Xbox Live would be implementing a lifetime ban for “players who are found to be making sexist or discriminatory comments against others.” The blogosphere lit up with claims that Halo 4 on Xbox Live would be “banning sexism,” but what does this really mean?

According to ESA game player data, female gamers now make up 47% of all game players, and females over 18 are the industry’s fastest growing demographic.  Nonetheless, sexism in gaming is a prevalent issue. Websites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty encourage gamers to submit screen shots of players making rude, sexist, or inappropriate comments. Sexist comments are an integral part of the banter over the microphone headsets that gamers use to communicate with each other.

The fact that two industry leaders behind a popular game like Halo 4 are women is quite impressive.  It is also important to have them calling out sexism in gaming as “behavior that is offensive and completely unacceptable.” The question is, do their words have any real impact? At it turns out; their seemingly groundbreaking announcement does not reflect any actual modification of the current Xbox Live policy.  The code of conduct, has not been changed, and reads as follows:

Don’t create a gamertag, profile content, Avatar action, Avatar content, or in-game content that other users may be offended by. This includes, without limitation, anything related to or suggestive of: profane words/phrases, topics or content of a sexual nature, hate speech (including but not limited to racial, ethnic, or religious slurs), illegal drugs/controlled substances, or illegal activities.

As you can see, the code of conduct includes no new language specifically addressing sexist comments. Since the interview, a Microsoft representative has said that the company is not changing their Xbox Live policy for Halo 4, adding that Microsoft does not support any form of bigotry.

So to summarize, Xbox Live is not placing a lifetime ban on players who use sexist comments, and Ross and Wolfkill’s announcement does not mean that Microsoft will be initiating any special measures to stop sexism on Xbox Live.

The few days of excitement over the possibility of Microsoft taking steps to actively fight sexism raises important questions; should sexism be fought in online gaming forums? With women now making up a large and growing percentage of gamers, is this an issue that needs to be pursued, or should online gaming outlets stay out of the situation?

In their interview, Ross and Wolfkill placed more of the responsibility for ending sexism in gaming on the developers. As the number of women in the gaming world grows, it will be interesting to see how companies like Microsoft handle the issue of sexism.

Amelia M. Torre

Re-blogged on The F-Bomb

Fall Games – Uncharted 3, Battlefield 3 & Modern Warfare 3

For the fans of the Uncharted series on the PS3, Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception was released November 1, 2011. The Uncharted trilogy is coming off of one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2009 with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys playing a video game with a great story mode that is almost cinematic for anyone else watching.

Then we have the first person shooters, or FPS, as we like to call them. Two groundbreaking FPS are coming out exactly two weeks apart from each other. The two games I am talking about are Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. Do not let the names fool you both of these games have more than three predecessors. After the Battlefield name had huge success on the PC, Electronic Arts began making games for consoles and this third one is expected to put up a fight against Modern Warfare 3. Both of these franchises have an extremely compelling story mode and make you never want to put the controller down, ever.


For the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare 3 is the 8th game to hit console as well as PC. It will be interesting to see how many copies this game will sell after the groundbreaking performance that its predecessor Call of Duty Black Ops sold which was more than 7 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release. I will not lie, I am in love with the Call of Duty franchise and I will continue to purchase their video games. The CoD fan base is so large that I can put in almost any of the older CoD games and still find a lobby to play in online. I have always given my edge to the Call of Duty franchise because not only can you spend hours online playing with your friends but they also have extremely fun Cooperative extras such as Nazi Zombie and Special Ops.

After playing through the Battlefield 3 campaign and spending a little bit of time on Battlefield 2 it has started to grow on me, though not as much as Call of Duty has. I would still recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a great first person shooter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my two-part review of some of these big games coming out this year!

Steve Marksteiner