So here’s a list of some of the video games campaigns of the year that I really enjoyed. They all encorporate an element of social media and online activity – which is why I’ve picked them! They are by no means a definitive list, just some of the campaigns that really caught me eye. Let me know if you agree or know of some I’ve missed out that you’d like to recommend!
5. Gears of War 3
Anyone who’s played the GOW series will know just how special this final game was; sending off our Delta squad heroes – whom have been with us through gore, bro-mance and some pretty emotion scenes – into the distopian sunset. The GOW is a particularly interesting series, a trilogy that started with little social activity leading to the final episode that made the most of online tools to ensure it’s success.
Gears of War 3 gave its online fans much to keep themselves occupied and engaged in the run up to the COG last stand, from an online led campaign to decide the fate of our final recruit from the Carmine family, to fans getting a say in which maps made the final cut in the multiplayer maps and beta codes being released online to those lucky enough to gets their hands on them (like me!). The final game was hyped and promoted well online and the final product didn’t disappoint – I’m sure there weren’t many dry eyes from hardcore fans by the end of this game!
2011 has undoubtedly been the year of Minecraft. The beta of the game was released at the end of 2010 and since has sold over 4 million copies on PC. Minecraft also debuted on Android with the Xperia PLAY, as well as being released on other Android devices and iOS. There’s also an XBOX 360 edition lined up for 2012, though don’t expect those block-style graphics to change!
The game has always had a huge amount of online social support. The Mojang team lists six official online sources for news and updates, such as Notch’s (the Minecraft creator) blog and Twitter feed, a wiki, forums, Facebook and a feedback community. There’s also a huge amount on non-official fan sites and blogs, including the UK’s hugely popular Yogscast, who usually make up the entire top 10 most watched list on YouTube.
To celebrate their super-keen fan community, Mojang hosted MineCon in Las Vegas this year, complete with online streaming of the entire event via the recently launched website. All in all, a fantastic year for the whole Mojang team for a sterling social effort!
3. Mass Effect 3
Technically a bit of a cheat title as it won’t be released until early 2012, but still worthy of a mention in my view. Mass Effect has already kicked off its social activity in full swing, from releasing an epic trailer on YouTube, to releasing hints and tips online on how the final showdown against the Reapers will go down, to letting us know just how our actions from the first two games might affect the ending for Commander Shepard and his/her team in the final space showdown. There was also online viral marketing with the BioWare Pulse channel, posting weekly videos.
However, the most memorable social activity so far has to be the fan created female hero character of the series, the so-called ‘Fem-shep’. As a huge fan of the series, I’ve kept my female Shepard character from the start of the series, shameless self-stylised, and have always been grateful both for the inclusion of a female lead and the fantastic voice acting of Jennifer Hale which has made played the female role both an exciting and rewarding experience. So hearing that BioWare were planning on creating a female Shepard to be used in the promotion for the final game was pretty awesome. Admittedly it was a little late coming and the look of the character was a little bit ‘over-sexed’ as the guys at The Mary Sue have pointed out, it was still pretty amazing to vote on each characteristic via the BioWare Facebook page (unfortunately my own appearance votes didn’t make the final cut!) and even more impressive to see the female character used as the lead marketing asset at my local GAME store. So nice one, BioWare!
It may be a tried and tested tactic, but nothing really beats an old fashioned countdown for excitement and buzz around a launch. Another technically cheating title, GTAV might not be in stores until next year, but the launch of the trailer certainly got tongues wagging and key tapping online.
The big draw of a GTAV title comes from not only the story and the characters, but from the setting in which the game takes place. In the open ended, free-roaming nature of a GTA game, the location is everything; from the landscape you’ll have chance to explore, to the freeways you’ll be leading cop chases down and the entire feeling and atmosphere you’ll get from the game. Knowing just how important this fact was, Rockstar ensured it was also its most closely guarded secret, offering no reassurance or confirmation on the many rumours floating around – and so ensuring all eyes were on the trailer when it was launched on 2nd November. I made sure I had my countdown timer for the trailer release ticking away in the background and eagerly tweeted throughout, but I was still surprised at just how many people were discussing the trailer online. The location isn’t actually mentioned in the trailer, nor are the sory or key characters given away, so many of the tweets were rife with people guessing just where the location could be, from car license plates to landmarks, and suggestions of which charcters could be making a come back.
The trailer release was well planned from the Rockstar team, and subsequent announcments and releases will ensure conversation, both online and offline, continues right up until the release, which will no doubt be just as successful.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
A little bit of a given or ‘easy call’ perhaps, but you can’t really fault the consistently flawless execution of the Call of Duty titles. From MW2’s red carpet celeb filled ‘Hollywood style’ launch to Black Ops’ Facebook tab streamed live launch, the guys at Activision really know how to get it right. MW3 was no exception and really laid it heavy with social interaction – much to the delight of fans everywhere.
For the UK launch, Twitter fans were invited to enter a competition to attend the official launch at XXX. For those not lucky enough to win a ticket (read: me) then all hope was not launch as the star studded bash, hosted by avid gamer, Assasins Creed’s nerd and writer Danny Wallace, was all streamed live on YouTube. Not only could fans watch the action online, but they could also submit questions that would be asked live at the event and were also encouraged to use hashtags and join in the conversation from those at the event as images and news were posted online as the announcements were made. The trailers used both online and on TV adverts, Vet vs Noob, were also fun and shareable, adding to the buzz both in the leadup to the release and the weeks afterwards, helping to keep the title in number one position.