How Bulletstorm Guarantees A Day One Purchase

By Adam Ma on May 19, 2010, 10:16PM EDT
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In a time when expensive marketing campaigns that span months on end is trendy way to generate hype, there remain a few rogue companies that actually know how to make a good trailer. It's not hard to do, but for some reason these companies have it in their heads that gamers are like elusive Pokémon that can only be caught with a massive amount of treats. Keeping this analogy intact let me explain why the Bulletstorm trailer is effectively the Master Ball of marketing, and how it has secured (at least from me) the legendary 'Day One' purchase.

The most important thing to note would be what Bulletstorm has promised the gaming community. Kills that would offer points depending on how awesome the death is, over-the-top violence, and alien weaponry that would contribute to both. There was also some explanation as to the games plot, but never any real focus on it. The idea is that the plot forwards the action, introduces the characters, and gives a bit of a background for anyone who's really interested in that sort of thing. That's why the Bulletstorm trailer was completely devoid of all plot points, there is just no reason for it.

Games that spend too much time fleshing out a plot in a trailer, when action is their main theme are at the best teases and at worst duplicitous. Halo: ODST is a fantastic example of this, where so much attention was built around this fantastic world of action and excitement when in reality the game itself was a disappointment. Its single player/co-op was barely memorable, and multiplayer was completely missing functions standard to even the worst modern day FPS games.

I find the Bulletstorm trailer so appealing because it's done everything right. A small sampling of weapons, killstreak scenarios that gradually move from 'awesome' to 'insane', and most importantly the entire trailer seems to take place in a single level. Having already explained to fans how kills/points would work, all we really needed to see was the poetry in motion. Now that I've seen how things will work, it's really not hard to imagine where the rest of the game will go. Bigger guns, crazier circumstances, and of course weapon unlocks to ensure that I've got new ways to punish everyone around me for breathing.

That doesn't mean that simply because a world premiere trailer hits all the right buttons, that there still isn't more that can be done to generate a little hype. For example, it would be nice to see how multiplayer worked, or maybe even show off how far a weapon can be upgraded. But the groundwork is already laid, and there's not too far Bulletstorm needs to go from here. Showing too much of the gameplay risks Dante's Inferno Syndrome, where everyone knows about the entire game before it's even out. There's a pretty delicate line between intriguing a player, and spoiling something for the player, and that's something People Can Fly (and Epic Games) seem to understand.

This isn't to say that I don't expect to see the usual marketing from Bulletstorm. Banners and wallpapers on gaming websites, a few more trailers teasing the plot, it's all to be expected. But when it comes to peaking interest, showcasing gameplay, getting a good laugh and letting my imagination run a little wild, Bulletstorm's first trailer is perfect. A 'Day One' purchase for me, and I doubt I will regret it.

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