GC '07: Marketing was crucial to Gears of War success

Epic Games president Mike Capps believes that the company's shooter was such a runaway success because Microsoft backed it with a huge marketing campaign.

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."

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Discussion

142 comments
yourbeliefs
yourbeliefs

To me, great marketing is when people who don't just own the system know about the game and what its about. Granted we all remember all those ads for Gears with "Mad World" playing in the background, but I didn't have a 360 at the time, and I wouldn't have paid much mind to the game when I did get my 360 had it not been for the TONS of accolades and awards it received. The GTA games had great marketing with the music and montages of clips they would show. Granted the Gears commercials were memorable, but really if you just watched the commercial, you wouldn't have much of an idea as to what the game was about.

nickythenewt21
nickythenewt21

Marketing probably helped a lot, but most of the sales were probably from the reviews and many Game of the Year awards that Gears received.

AzureWind213
AzureWind213

marketing. definitely. You make a good game, you market it well, you make money. I'm not sure why this should be a shock to anyone. If you just make a good game, it can stay in the closet like he said. If you market a crap game, everyone just learns really fast that your game stinks. Have both, make green.

leimeisei
leimeisei

uh, this dude is wrong.. gears sold because its friggin sweet... HALO, on the other hand, now that would be an example of success due to good marketing. its still cool though

jemini12
jemini12

True_Blu3, You gotta be kidding me right? Did you play the same Gears as me? Broken? Okay! Anyway Gears is a great game, and even without the marketing, it would've sold well based on its solid gamplay and outstanding presentation. The marketing help, especially the mad world commercial. I thought that was pure genius. For some reason though everytime I play the game it reminds me of contra.

phan1
phan1

I don't think it makes that much of a difference either, especially for a game like Gears. Most gamers are very internet savvy, looking up and knowing what the hyped up games are months before their released. Other games do need more marketing though, as there are a bunch of good games that don't end up as good sellers. It depends on the game.

vass86
vass86

"The game sold it self" quoted for truth. quality sells and marketing helps. obviously obscurity will get a game nowhere

True_Blu3
True_Blu3

The game, in my opinion, did not deserve this sort of credit. Sure, Epic makes great games, but this game just felt broken. I do agree with the article. the only reason why this game was such a huge success was because of advertisements, events, and hype. Seriously, It feels like Microsoft is forcing consumers to buy their "merchandise" (lol, merchandise. No way to describe it.).

stfolife
stfolife

meh it was a good game but i dont think it deserved the game of the year award but it did deserve nomination anyways it was ok i can name alot of better games right now

ghsacidman
ghsacidman

thomasperry was right. That commercial, with the song Mad World... I don't know why, but it went together very well and was incredible. I was so hyped for that game by that point. Then, the game actually lived up to expectations. I still play it every now and then, not alot of games I like to go back to every now and then.

thomasperry
thomasperry

I believe it helped a hell of a lot. That commercial alone was the most amazing commercial for a game I had ever seen. I love Gears though. It reminds me of a new generation Contra game to some extent. It's great fun and it's got quite a few original gameplay mechanics too. All that packed with some of the most amazing graphics for a console game to date. In my opinion it deserved the exposure.... but no doubt the extra mile sold a lot more copies.

packernation31
packernation31

I think the gorgeous graphics and multiplayer sold the game.

Demmi_Argo
Demmi_Argo

True that the aggresive marketing helped Gears of War alot. It was a great game but wouldn't have been as famous or as popular on its own. Marketing is one of the crucial elements of making your game sell, look at games like Tales of Symphonia or Eternal Darkness. Amazing games that aren't as popular as they should be because of lack of marketing.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

It's funny because I've never even seen a single commercial for Gears of War. :|

bigmick07
bigmick07

i wonder what that ip is? Yeah, but Gears of War is awesome, and was really easy to pick-up and play, but had enormous replay value due to online multiplayer, and a harder difficulty. The marketing did help, but it was still a great game,

vahid_xbox_360
vahid_xbox_360

gears of war is one of the best game in all the history this is one of goddamn reality and truth for the other game company like sony.

LosDaddie
LosDaddie

You mean marketing really works??? :shock: :|

darth-revan
darth-revan

ftjx ""You'd better be a good game when they find you because good marketing makes a bad game fail faster." I don't get this" Me: He means that if you make a bad game with great marketing, it wil fail faster due to spread of mouth and that fact the game would look like crap.

ocdog45
ocdog45

internal project huh

TrevasGallant
TrevasGallant

I'm sure that commercial for Gears of War really helped. The song Mad World along with the video really made the game look great. Unfortunately, the actual game never really captured the same feel the commercial provided. It is still a great game, but the commercial led me to believe that it would have a much more fleshed out and stylized story. Perhaps the almost inevitable sequel will expand on the greatness of Gears of War.

ftjx
ftjx

"You'd better be a good game when they find you because good marketing makes a bad game fail faster." I don't get this

TheoleDominion1
TheoleDominion1

I agree marketing is important, but like he said "You better be a good game because good marketing makes bad games fail faster". And we all know the "bad news" travels fast!...lol

especensor
especensor

I agree with Vorlonwatcher. The game had very favorable word of mouth and was the main cause in my friend's purchase.

Vorlonwatcher
Vorlonwatcher

The game could have had three times the marketing budget and it still wouldn't have done half as well if the game had been utter crap. Quality still sells, and word-of-mouth was the most powerful tool in getting Gears into people's hands. Friends, reviewers, video previews all created the momentum most vital to the success it enjoyed. Why did friends and reviewers like it? Because it was good. Why did video previews help? Because it looked amazing.

johnnyBgood99
johnnyBgood99

"well... with people like lindsay lohan at his launch party, how could this game NOT be good?" Try again. He was thanking his lucky stars that his publishers budgets could attract even someone such as Lindsey Lohan to his opening, and Lindsey is prolly someone who's never even properly operated the power button on a 360.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

Marketing helps sell a game? Oh my God. Stop the presses. Seriously, though, this should be a no-brainer (tell that to Nintendo about Metroid Prime 3). If a good game is marketed well, it will sell well. It's pretty simple. Review scores aren't important to the success of a game, huh? BioShock's got excellent reviews across the board (quite a few 100's, and a whole lot of 90's), and is sold out almost everywhere. Not bad for a game with a moderate amount of marketing. And, lastly, and I know I say this a lot, but hopefully Epic will spend more time polishing the next Gears game. The singleplayer is flawless, but the multiplayer is incredibly glitchy, and the updates haven't changed that fact. Instead of rushing the game out the door to meet Microsoft's release date expectations, maybe Epic could spend a few weeks actually testing the multiplayer in Gears 2? Unreal Tournament 2004 was a well-polished game; why wasn't Gears of War?

ballasteve
ballasteve

well... with people like lindsay lohan at his launch party, how could this game NOT be good? but then again, didnt the main character in gow go to jail in the beginning or something? interesting.... ill have to think this one over....

lithus
lithus

"Epic Games president Mike Capps believes that the company's shooter was such a runaway success because Microsoft backed it with a huge marketing campaign." Or how about because it was such a good game? Marc Ecko's crappy "graffiti is cool!" game had good marketing too, but all the marketing in the world couldn't save it from being a complete mess.

HighlyToxic
HighlyToxic

It depends. Games like the Transformers, where the property was a mass market commodity before it was a video game, really needs very little advertising for the game as it relies more on consumer familiarity than industry reviews. Reviews don't matter in this instance because this game caters to the mass market, and mass consumers don't read video game reviews. Ditto for Spiderman, Harry Potter, James Bond, etc. games where the properties cross over to popular culture. However, for an original IP, especially one that gears (pun intended) towards hard-core gamers, marketing is needed to raise awareness for this new property, and industry reviews become more important as it is this demographic who checks ratings and listen to word of mouth. Marketing is important just to bring awareness to the product. The success lies in whether you target the appropriate demographic.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

He is right that the exposure always helps, but the exposure won't do any good unless the thing being exposed looks good. Gears graphics were amazing and when you market a game that looks good, people think it is good. I think that many people were unaware that the story would be so shallow.

Dreski83
Dreski83

well... in the way things function now a days, especially with advertisment attacking potential customers from every angle, marketing can basically make or break a game :( at least this was a touted game worth playing... imagine how screwed Microsoft would have been if the game sucked @ss

Pete5506
Pete5506

I know people are going to be mad at me for saying this but I was never a big fan of this game

xcollector
xcollector

"People like us who check sites for reviews are in the minority. Scores don't affect a game's sales like you may think"cwagmire We have to be a minority becuase I check every game out before I consider buying it. People really should check reviews out from more then one source unless they like wasting their money on a lot of the crap thats out there.

need_id07
need_id07

Reviews do help me buy games, but to that end marketing still has a factor as it helps sell pre-orders... which is a big way that companies sell games.

zey2k
zey2k

"ukillwegrill The trailer of gears of war was fu*kin amazin and it went a long way to persuading me buy the game" it made me buy one xD

GoddBless
GoddBless

I agree MS has great marketing for the games they want to sell really well. However they need to do some of that in Japan because that's where it's needed right now.

ukillwegrill
ukillwegrill

The trailer of gears of war was fu*kin amazin and it went a long way to persuading me buy the game

Darth_Tigris
Darth_Tigris

Advent Rising had one of the best marketing campaigns I've ever seen. Watch the theatrical trailers even now and it just looked amazing. It flopped. The End

GundamRX79Live
GundamRX79Live

good games sell easier than garbage games DUH.. but i guess if they brainwash you with advertising on it.. it will make you want it that much more...

Jebril
Jebril

While I agree with this guy statements I think it only has to do with New IPs like Gears, BioShock, or even remember Perfect Dark on N64? I still remember the commercial where the chic was taking a shower or something like that. But for old IPs no marketing is needed Twilight Princess is the biggest selling game on the Wii and it has almost ZERO marketing put into it, the only thing it got was glowing reviews, I mean even Halo, even if M$ didn't campaign for the game, the game would still sell like a blockbuster. The point is a marketing campaign is only needed for NEW IPs, ones that get good reviews too.

lamprey263
lamprey263

Um, I disagree, I think this game sold so well because it was a ****ing sweet game. Quite honestly, I didn't really care for the Mad World trailer. The biggest factors for me buying this game were word of mouth and gaming reviews. Great games make people talk about them and great reviews from gaming publications basically endorses them. Hence, the best marketing strategy should be to make ****ing awesome game, and that they did. And yes, marketing is important too, but it's essential to have something worth buying, and people have to know it's worth buying... but avoid infomercial testimonials.

zombiepigeon
zombiepigeon

That one trailer with Mad World was what seemed to finish the deal. It was an amazing trailer. Captured the sad destruction of it perfectly. The second game needs a bigger focus on that same idea. The first one had it, just not enough.

pridex
pridex

@Insert_Clip How can say that. The game may offer nothing new but It was put together perfectly. Its truly a great game. I would also like a link of your source to where the president of epic would say that. Please i dont want a link to your review. By your post i can say your review would not justify the game.

timts
timts

well, you can marketing resistance all you want, it wont be as successful as gears of war

duxup
duxup

It didn't hurt that it was a kick ass game either.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

There were a lot of TV ads for this game, but GameSpot users were sold on it long before those came out.

SlikNik27
SlikNik27

dominator3333 "that game's trailer with mad world...the best game trailer i have ever seen,no doubt" I couldn't agree more. That gave it a buzz I've never seen for a new IP.

dominator3333
dominator3333

that game's trailer with mad world...the best game trailer i have ever seen,no doubt