Hi-Fi RushA game built around the concept pure joy, was notable for two things last week. one, it’s really, really good! And second, it achieved that rarest of video game traits: a successful surprise release.
When I say surprise, I definitely mean surprise. For a minute, no one knew the game was available, the next game was available to download and play on Xbox and PC. It’s the year of our Lord 2023, how often does that happen to … something? Everywhere? It never happens so often!
As a result, the game doesn’t feel like a breath of fresh air, it feels like the wind has blown us off our feet, and while I don’t want to downplay any aspect of the game itself when I talk about its success, let’s be honest. here: this game feels so fresh, not just because it’s an amazing game, but because it hasn’t been drained by a long marketing campaign over 12 months.
What I’m trying to say here is not meant to directly disparage anyone who works in video game marketing: you have a job to sell video games, and for the most part, people do a pretty good job. Whether it’s putting together blockbuster trailers or just talking to (potential) fans on social media, it’s hard work, and for the most part, it’s something I understand and empathize with, especially with selling games from the system they work with. about shop windows are busy with pre-orders and wish lists –is required.
But I am not responsible for running a single advertising campaign. I’m on the receiving end like you thousands all of them at once, everywhere we look. From previews on major sites to YouTube to Twitter, everyone on the web who cares about video games is under siege from the second we log on to the second we log off. Here’s an item, pre-order, learn more about this item, pre-order.
G/O Media may receive a commission
Up to 40% off
Samsung Smart TVs
Vivid colors and deep blacks
It’s Oscar season which means it’s time to binge all the nominations before the big day. Why not enjoy these pieces of art on a new TV from our friends at Samsung?
I’ve covered this my Death blood earlier fragments of the saga, but video game marketing is always somewhat predictable. Not in terms of the specific aspects of its campaign—a AAA blockbuster has a different marketing budget than a small indie release—but in the way that they can often guarantee to leave us feeling jaded.
It is not enough to show us the world, genre and premise of the game. We need to be told the story of each main character. A gnostic explanation was shown for the world. We’re told how many lines of dialogue the script has, how many thousands of hours it might take to complete, who each voice actor is. We’re conditioned, and in many cases expected, to be fans of a game we haven’t played yet before it’s released. Which of course is the whole point.
Imagine that instead of appearing out of nowhere, Hi-Fi Rush was subjected to a traditional Bethesda marketing campaign. The picture, which saw its debut at The Game Awards in December 2021, has had its luster dimmed by the weight of bigger, more expensive games. Imagine being subjected to Chain’s worst lines as part of a character reveal trailer on YouTube instead of warming up to Fry-From.Futurama-special attractions during opening hours of the game. What if the Meet Armstrong documentary already spoiled that for us, instead of the game being able to enjoy revealing its cast and world on its own terms?
That would be bad! The game itself, of course, would still be great, but much of the joy of discovery that accompanied its release, along with the buzz in the modern schoolyard, would be gone. To be clear, as I’ve already said, I’m not saying any of this to shame any other video game marketing staff, studio, or agency. Trees are not a problem here. It is a forest.
Which does Hi-Fi Rush so special. This is one of the only games that can get away with it. Note: I’m not calling for an end to video game marketing here, or saying that more games should try it, because the former would be pointless (it’s a big forest!), and the latter would be reckless advice. How much Hi-Fi Rush it feels like a remastered GameCube game, and unlike anything else out there, it was developed by a well-known AAA studio and published by Bethesda, then released on Xbox Game Pass so people could try it for “free”. It was fortunate to be perhaps the only possible combination of style, scope, and pedigree that could even afford to attempt it, let alone hope to get away with it.
That’s why I don’t want to say Hi-Fi Rush should be example. I just want to say that we should all appreciate this game for what it is and how it came to us. this again. Surprises are nice, but few are as nice as a good video game surprise.