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Publishers, Advertisement, and Developers
October 26th 2002, 11:24 CEST by bago

I figured we haven't talked about advertising for a while, and it's time to revive this old dead horse. Synopsis: 9 man dev team makes a new, unique and well reviewed game, but publisher gives it little distribution and advertising because it is not a tried and true concept. Read his post from the horses mouth.

This seems to combine everyones favorite topics, innovation vs sequelitis, advertising and branding, publishers vs developers, europe vs USA, grass roots movements, and maybe even a twinge of the console wars.

The name of the game in question is Deathrow. It got a 9.3 at xbox.ign.com.

And this is the developers post, straight from the horses mouth, or preserved below in our friend, the quote tag.

First -- let me say that I worked on Deathrow as one of the 3 coders. I wanted to get that out of the way so people don't think I'm disguising myself as someone I'm not. (ie. feel free to claim blatant self-promotion. thats fine) Also, let it be clear that any critizing I may do is my own personal opinion -- so it doesn't reflect SouthEnd as a company. (i no longer work in Sweden at SouthEnd) Also, I'm a loud mouth American with something to say, so I'm gonna say it.    
 
I've noticed very lack luster distribution for Deathrow in the United States. This is very disapointing ... not only because Deathrow is a game I'm proud to say I worked on and I would love to see people play it, but also because I'm on a bit of a mission here to prove that a SMALL (9 people) development crew can compete with the big boys of the industry and create a new innovative title that can succeed.  
 
Let me add a disclaimer to the following: I am NOT prevy to what advertising or marketing plans Deathrow's publisher, UbiSoft, has underway or is planning. So if there is a lot planned and it just hasn't launched yet, then great -- I would be delighted to see it.  However, I have to be honest and say that I am very skeptical that we'll see much of anything until Deathrow has been a proven success and isn't a 'risk' for them. Also, let me stress the fact that I have worked with several people from Ubi and they have been GREAT to work with and were great guys. This has to do with business decisions not my personal opinion of individuals.
 
Frankly, its a d**n shame that a game that is getting amazing reviews across the board (with 1-2 exceptions out of 15+) is geting NO promotion at all essentially. 3 months before the release I had hoped to see some kind of advertising, 1 month before the release I prayed to see SOMETHING, and now here we are at the release -- and still -- nothing. Maybe I was naive to think that a new company with a new idea would get the backing it deserves... But the backing IS deserved and the reviews are proving it again and again.
 
So whats my point? What am I asking?
 
[1.] I'd like to make a public request to everyone reading this in the US(and anywhere else Deathrow is hard to come by) to call your local retailers and ask for Deathrow. If they don't have it in stock, ask them to do so. (a little comment about how you're surprised they aren't carrying such an awesome game couldn't hurt either  )    Until retailers view this game as a potential seller, they will not be getting it in stock.  
 
[2.] Once you have the game. Tell your friends! Its the best advertising we have! You may think it doesn't matter -- but I'm confident a lot could be accomplished by the fans alone. (word of mouth, websites etc.)  We don't have millions of dollars to spend on commercials to get the word out. We need the fans to spread the word!  
 
We really need a grass roots campaign here if this game is going to succeed.  
 
Why should you care?  
 
Well, if you like Deathrow and you like the innovative gameplay and you like the fact that it isn't just another cookie-cutter game like most other games... then you should want to support the people that bring those titles to to the public. To be perfectly honest, if Deathrow has extremely poor sales ... of course there will be no Deathrow2, but in the bigger picture -- publishers will view it as yet another 'new gameplay' innovation that failed and they will continue to stick with the "old familiar" games.  
 
Let's show publishers that new ideas ARE indeed profitable and they should be putting some faith into developers that create these new ideas!
 
Note: First time developers are very unlikely to ever see a profit from their games, so this is hardly to make SE rich.  
 
 
Thanks for listening folks....  


Hijack and discuss!
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Home » Topic: Publishers, Advertisement, and Developers

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#1 by m0nty
2002-10-26 11:27:22
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Is this game better than UT2k3 Bombing Run? That's what we want to know.
#2 by lwf
2002-10-26 11:47:13
Now that I have TV on my desktop I can't pull myself away to play games. I need an actual television.

Like a valentine laced around an icepick
#3 by ynohtna
2002-10-26 12:06:56
ynohtna@ynohtna.org http://www.ynohtna.org/
If this grass roots campaign works and Deathrow sells well, UbiSoft's marketeers may decide that future SouthEnd titles are best pushed via a forum post from the developer.

If Deathrow bombs, UbiSoft will conclude that an edgy forum post was all the marketing it deserved.

Either way, I can't see where the "innovative gameplay" is hidden... Isn't this game just Speedball again (yadda yadda Pong play dynamic yadda yadda)?
#4 by Terata
2002-10-26 12:11:03
I have to admit, the name of the game put one of its feet in the grave already for me -- I've seen mention of it previously, but assumed it was some sort of Twisted Metal alike or something.  It definitely doesn't sound like an updated quasi Speedball, not that Deathrow really says much of anything concrete.  The shots look pretty cool, might give it a shot next time I come across it.

As far as games that review well but don't get much marketing, welcome to your new religion.
#5 by m0nty
2002-10-26 12:11:21
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
What's wrong with Speedball? Damn good game, it was. And is.
#6 by ynohtna
2002-10-26 12:22:05
ynohtna@ynohtna.org http://www.ynohtna.org/
There is nothing wrong with Speedball, nothing at all.

I'm just curious as to why the quoted developer keeps referring to Deathrow as having an innovative, new, risky gameplay idea.
#7 by lwf
2002-10-26 12:26:47
I definitely think ut2k3 is on the right track, adding guns to existing sports. I can't wait for shotgun chess 2003+.

Like a valentine laced around an icepick
#8 by m0nty
2002-10-26 12:47:59
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
F***ing swearing like a G*****n trooper is a motherf***ing innovative gamestyle, you c***sucking piece of w****fangle! UR MOTHER!!!
#9 by Ashiran
2002-10-26 12:51:15
Why is it that 99 out of a 100 games/mods that claim to be inovative and new turn out to be same old, same old with some quirks? Are we so old that we played every possible gametype already?

"This is planetcrap, where we nuke everything from orbit." - Bailey
#10 by Neale
2002-10-26 13:02:51
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Eradicators is original! If you ignore the terminator inspiration

signatures are, as I've stated, for perverts
#11 by Marsh Davies
2002-10-26 13:23:15
www.verbalchilli.com
Why would any small development team produce a conceptually similar game to a behemoth like UT2003 (i.e. blood sport of the future) and then expect it to compete?

#12 by "Mank"
2002-10-26 13:49:49
I dunno if it's meant to compete, but something tells me that the publishers in question might have more of a clue regarding this game and the US market than they're being giving credit for...possibly?
#13 by LesJarvis
2002-10-26 13:51:02
And why exactly would I want to call my local videogames retailer and ask them to stock a game I've never heard of, let alone played?

I mean, I appreciate the dilemma facing the developers, but I just generally don't feel it's my responsibility to make sure their game gets good distribution.

And why would an upstart developer make a console game?  If it were a PC game, at least they could get decent distribution and press on a demo.  For a console game you're pretty much stuck buying it if you want to play.

************************
#14 by Bezzy
2002-10-26 13:57:14
painberry@hotmail.com http://www.antifactory.org
Atleast they're trying, Les. Pompom just finished a game and are now pretty much sitting on their arses in that respect.

My only problem with Bezzy is, truly and honestly, about one third of his longer, passionate posts make no sense to me.  I don't necessarily agree or disagree, I just literally can't parse them.  - Hugin
#15 by Bailey
2002-10-26 15:48:50
I'm failing to see anything innovative about this title that deserves recognition. If it's a good game, that's all it deserves to be recognized for, but there certainly isn't anything being done here that hasn't been done before.

This is the Jungian Porn-Goddess of the Internet!!!
Gaze upon her omnivalent genitalia!!!
#16 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-26 15:57:18
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Why would any small development team produce a conceptually similar game to a behemoth like UT2003 (i.e. blood sport of the future) and then expect it to compete?

Well, it's not exactly the same and it's on a different platform ... until UC comes out I guess.

The game looked nice in the screenshots in that review, but the hook seems to be the violence/swearing which is a little weak.

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#17 by Stralutia
2002-10-26 15:58:35
stralutia@hotmail.com None
Les, he was posting at SouthEnd's board, right?  Meaning that the people visiting it probably are already 'fans' of the game.  It would be reasonable to expect that fans of the game would take a slight interest in whether or not the game was available in their area.  Just my take.

Okay, I'll admit it: I like 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'.
#18 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-26 15:59:04
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
And you know, honestly, people said the same thing about Unreal Tournament.  Why would Epic, a company known for weak netcode, create a game that goes head to head with Quake3, from a company known for DM games?  Epic managed to pull it off.  Who knows?  Give these guys a shot...

Yes, I'm feeling oddly optimistic today ... weird.

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#19 by jjohnsen
2002-10-26 16:03:41
http://www.johnsenclan.com
The publishers don't owe you developers anything!

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#20 by Stralutia
2002-10-26 16:09:03
stralutia@hotmail.com None
Warren, has Epic sold the movie rights to their underdog struggle against the monolithic online force of ID Software?  I can see it now...

<tense movie-trailer guy voice>

In a world where teh Carmack is king,  one developer struggling with it's netcode will rise up and engage it's opponent in a head-to-head battle for first-person shooter supremacy.  Follow the adventures of the Epic team as they engage in a race against the clock to see who really will suck it down!  Unreal Tournament:  The made for TV movie.  This summer.  Don't miss it.  Only on the WB.

</tense movie-trailer guy voice>

Okay, I'll admit it: I like 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'.
#21 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-26 16:13:45
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Nah, we're just waiting for Carmack to launch himself into space.  Once that happens, we'll be free ... FREE!!

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#22 by Bailey
2002-10-26 16:20:50
So when he and KAK have sexy space adventures, like in Farscape, only with less muppets, you guys will consider yourselves the better of the two parties? Oh Warren... how little you know of sexy space adventures...

This is the Jungian Porn-Goddess of the Internet!!!
Gaze upon her omnivalent genitalia!!!
#23 by jjohnsen
2002-10-26 17:04:12
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Less muppets?  Bailey, you sir are the one who knows little about sexxxy space adventures.

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#24 by Marsh Davies
2002-10-26 17:18:00
www.verbalchilli.com
Has anybody else been playing round with UnrealEd's terrain stuff?

I can make a terrain plane using the tutorial on Wiki... ish. It doesn't act in anything like the way the guy describes though; even though I have followed him to the word.

#25 by Matt Davis
2002-10-26 17:24:35
http://looroll.com
What?

More muppets I say! Sexy space adventures or otherwise! Less carmack though please.

"But thanks to Matt's powers of insinuation, I haven't worn said pants (in the British sense) in over a month... and I've never felt more alive!" - Bailey
#26 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-26 17:29:54
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Marsh

He seems to be missing some critical information in that tutorial.  Heightmaps must be G16 format.  You can import a P8 texture, true, but you have to convert it afterwards.  Right click it in the terrain editing window and convert it.  Then the painting tools should behave as you expect them too.

A better approach is to click the "New" button on the heightmaps tab and let UnrealEd create the heightmap texture for you.  Then you're guaranteed to get something that will work.

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#27 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-26 17:30:39
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
too!  to!  Teh train is coming!

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#28 by Marsh Davies
2002-10-26 17:46:07
www.verbalchilli.com
Cheers Warren. Sadly, it seems I'm stumbling before I even get to that part - firstly, whatever scale I set the terrain to it produces an infinitely large plane according to the 2D viewports, which doesn't sit at the origin (where the terraininfo is), but, inconveniently, some ~5120 units below and, when I attempt to move it... it vanishes!* Not that it appears to move at all in the 2D windows. Should I stuff the Wiki tutorial and go with the considerably different UDN one?

*I seem to have a problem with things vanishing from my viewports generally - infos, lights and such, which appear normally until you try and zoom in on them. Cray-Z.

#29 by Creole Ned
2002-10-26 18:40:55
Marsh, this appears to be a fairly good terrain tutorial. I haven't followed it through myself, though.

"I don't bemoan the great paste" - LPMiller
#30 by Charles
2002-10-26 21:54:36
www.bluh.org
There is a simple solution to these guys' problems.  Make a demo.  If their game is good, something like XBox magazine won't have any problems carrying it.  People don't buy unknown games, because they are unknown.  At the very least, advertising and press gives you a half assed idea of what kind of game it is.  At the very least they should get gameplay movies out in the magazine channels that carry xbox discs.  

Though I'd lean towards saying that the reason why they aren't getting full distribution is the amount of swearing.  Really, they shouldn't have included that, or if they did, at least only include it in a toned down fashion.  Ubisoft was probably afraid of fallout because of it.

"There is a huge difference between disliking somebody - maybe even disliking them a lot - and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day."
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
#31 by LesJarvis
2002-10-26 22:27:17
Stral, who is more than welcome to fondle my man-boobies, said:

It would be reasonable to expect that fans of the game would take a slight interest in whether or not the game was available in their area.

Yes, all the fans of this game that apparently NO ONE HAS PLAYED.

************************
#32 by crash
2002-10-26 23:32:40
/s/Deathrow/Deus Ex

/s/Ubi/Eidos

but... is it that good? don't have an xbox, and, well, i don't base buying decisions on the "strength" of ign's "reviews".

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#33 by Stralutia
2002-10-26 23:41:40
stralutia@hotmail.com None
Just because nobody has played it doesn't mean that there are no 'fans' for it.  Why are there fansites for games that have yet to be released?  Why does this small developer whose game nobody has played have a public forum?  Probably because the game does have fans.  They may be stupid for 'following' a game that has not yet been released yet so closely, but they are still fans regardless.

Okay, I'll admit it: I like 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'.
#34 by "King not REOLy"
2002-10-27 00:13:02
Has anybody else been playing round with UnrealEd's terrain stuff?


Cranky Steve's haunted whorehouse, has been asking for some hot Unreal2003 action... So if you fail to make a neo-gothic cathedral, complete to the tiniest architectural detail and every pigeon shit stain at its historically acurate position, you can allways go ape-shit, cram stuff in your map and submit it there...
I suggest you do a big dark level with may projectors, and aslo make sure to forget to put bot paths or starting points.

My computer is barely powerful enough to run duke nukem1, so I wouldn't be checking that until, uh... 2004, on the Epicplanet localtime.


As for the original post, I wonder what the fuzz is about... Original ideas don't sell? Ok fine, let me have them for free then...
#35 by Your Friend
2002-10-27 00:55:51
I don't think there's anything to see here.  The game looks somewhat interesting, I'd give it a rent, but making this out to be some big conspiracy?  Blah.

crash is right, this does seem to be like Deus Ex. A case in which the self-appointed elite of gamers found a game they really liked and couldn't seem to understand that just because they like it, everyone else wouldn't as well.  Now, I liked Deus Ex a lot, but if you honestly think what stopped it from being a huge hit (sales-wise) was Eidos, well, you're wrong.  Deus Ex is simply a game that did not target the mainstream.  It was created by heavy gamers for heavy gamers, end of story.  

This could very well be the same situation with Deathrow, and I'm sure the extensive use of swearing in the game didn't help, especially in light of BMX XXX not being distributed by many major chains. (You can argue all you want about how its stupid to allow violence but to get upset over sex and 'bad words', and you'd be right, but that doesn't change the views of the Christian-American, so don't bother arguing it with me).
#36 by Charles
2002-10-27 01:05:12
www.bluh.org
Deus Ex 2 is gonna be a lot more accessible.  Out of curiosity, did anyone play Deus Ex on the PS2?  I heard they completely overhauled the interface.

"There is a huge difference between disliking somebody - maybe even disliking them a lot - and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day."
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
#37 by Bezzy
2002-10-27 01:16:13
painberry@hotmail.com http://www.antifactory.org
I don't think it's in Cranky Steve's nature to accept faked crap maps. He wants to genuinely hurt people's feelings, not give them kudos for being intentionally bad at stuff.

My only problem with Bezzy is, truly and honestly, about one third of his longer, passionate posts make no sense to me.  I don't necessarily agree or disagree, I just literally can't parse them.  - Hugin
#38 by crash
2002-10-27 01:45:56
"King not REOLy"

not George Fiffy?

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#39 by bago
2002-10-27 01:47:48
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Well, I suppose Microsoft could step in with a little lovin. They made JSRF, a highly reviewed poor sales game into a pack-in title for new xboxes.

iamelectro
#40 by Your Friend
2002-10-27 01:53:45
I played the original JSR on the Dreamcast.  Based on the early buzz and some reviews, I really expected to like it, but in the end I really didn't, which will come as no surprise to Ergo.  I loved the overall art direction, music, etc, but not the game itself.

Anyway I guess my question is, is there anyone out there who didn't like the original JSR who thinks JSRF is somehow much better than the original?  I'll consider renting it if so.
#41 by E-ph0nk
2002-10-27 02:04:56
http://www.electrophonk.be
On another note: i just downloaded the demo of lotr ("the book edition?!") - and unless i misread the books several times - the fails at delivering even somewhat close to the actual story.

It seems they tried to make it a bit zelda-like (but with the usual pc-rpg graphics) - but all the subplots & weird enemies (killing wolves & orcs on the way to weathertop? ), make it a sad attempt.

Just to spare you all the 132mb download.

*sigh*
#42 by E-ph0nk
2002-10-27 02:07:21
http://www.electrophonk.be
the fails should offcourse be "teh fails" - but i can comfort the spelling nazis that i'm from europe - so as long as you don't speak any of my languages better then I speak yours - i'm free to make mestaajkes

*sigh*
#43 by Sgt Hulka
2002-10-27 02:25:56
A Hulka Halloween Treat just for you.

Note: You can use it to scare little children this year.  (16 meg)

The Advance Reviews are in!

" I opt to not download " - Gabe
"  @_@ that video is frightening " - Euri
" Scarred for life " - Charles
"  I appreciate Hulka's guitar stylings " - Greg

no beginning, no end, all you get is the middle...  - deal with it!
#44 by Stralutia
2002-10-27 02:36:18
stralutia@hotmail.com None
I am scarred for life.

Reading: American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
#45 by bago
2002-10-27 02:44:33
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
JSRF is a lot easier to play, no car hopping, no tag combo, much more action/explore type game.

iamelectro
#46 by Bailey
2002-10-27 02:14:11
E-Phonk

Just to spare you all the 132mb download.

132? What, are you playing ripped versions? You get no opinion!

Anyway, it's not a bad game, despite the horrid boppin' hoppin' Camerabot action. And the plot it follows, rather oddly, it lifted almost entirely from the 1990 Interplay PC version. However, I found the aspect of actually having the party around and fighting for you (unlike the Xbox version where they stand around and look smart) to be reasonably satisfying, though the three characters you control range from annoyingly underpowered to grossly overpowered.

I have much higher hopes for The Two Towers.

Hulka

You are a very disturbed man.

Dare wa tatsujin, biatch??
#47 by LoneStar
2002-10-27 02:44:18
cwcraig64@hotmail.com
Kingsizedfun by Sgt. Hulka was a wonderful short film that shows the comedy side of the Hulkster. The color, lighting and writing was excellent as well. I see no reason this film should not win best picture and Hulka best actor at this years Academy Awards. 3 thumbs up.

View it yourself at: www.hulka.com/files/kingsizedfun.avi

Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one
#48 by E-ph0nk
2002-10-27 02:45:36
http://www.electrophonk.be
it is a *demo*

And i also think the EA version is going to be better... sadly enough

*sigh*
#49 by Bailey
2002-10-27 02:46:19
Demo?! EVEN LESS OPINION!!!

Dare wa tatsujin, biatch??
#50 by Handsome B. Wonderful
2002-10-27 02:50:59
www.guitarvader.com/cosplay.htm
Whilst returning Tony Hawk 4 to Software Etc this eve I figured I'd pick up Deathrow, but they were sold out. Then this guy showed up who was returning his copy of Tony Hawk 4 as well.  He was also there to get Deathrow.  Odd.

He said the game was awesome (like hockey meets rollerball or something), but he didn't indicate if his opinion was based on this grassroots campaign/ign review or actually playing somebody else's copy.

'COWARDLY VERANT NERFS POTTERY, LIES THROUGH THEIR TEETH'
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