LEIPZIG, Germany--Gears of War has been a runaway success, bagging high review scores, selling 3 million copies in the first 10 weeks, and winning numerous awards, including four at the Developers Choice Awards, and two at the Gamefly Awards.
Some gamers say it's the gorgeous graphics that have made it a huge smash, others that it's the cooperative gameplay elements, whereas some praise the availability of free downloadable content after the game's release as being a big help. But Epic Games has another answer--marketing.
Mike Capps, Epic Games' president, told the audience during a panel titled 'Best-Selling Games,' chaired by GameSpot's Justin Calvert, that the marketing budget had been crucial to the title's success.
When asked how important marketing was to games, Capps said, "Tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. It doesn't do you any good at all to write the best novel and then put in a closet at home where no one ever sees it. It's so unfortunate that I can list 20 games that were fantastic games that nobody ever heard of, nobody ever saw."
Then, adding his own personal experience on the impact of marketing for Gears of War, he said, "We're very lucky to have publishers that have fantastic marketing budgets. I had Lindsey Lohan come to my launch party. I'm not sure it was worth the money, but the point is it's cool to have that kind of exposure--but not everyone gets it."
He continued, "And we absolutely attribute Gears of War's success to coming out at the exact right time on the console and having Microsoft really need a big Xbox 360 game to sell platforms, so part of our marketing was platform marketing... We've been very lucky, but [marketing] is so important to any sort of financial success."
Stormfront's Don Daglow added a big 'but' to the importance of marketing spin. He told the audience, "You'd better be a good game when they find you because good marketing makes a bad game fail faster."
However, the panel dismissed the idea that review scores were all-important to the success of a title. Capps told the delegates, "If you look at movie scores, Transformers didn't score very well." He added that the movie had gone on to be a big hit, and that it was a similar situation for games.
When asked what the company was currently working on, all he would say was that it was "New IP."