The Video Game industry today is a billion dollar one and there’s no two ways about that. What started as something very niche and geeky has evolved to somewhat of a lifestyle product, appealing to all and sundry. Sadly, even though the industry is expanding at such a break neck speed, it still restricts itself to certain clichéd stereo types. Today the average gamer has grown up with the industry and in most cases is able to afford games and hardware without depending on his parents. To that gamer, it’s very annoying when companies like EA and Epic target their marketing at the juvenile crowd even though the games at hand are ironically meant for adults.
Dead Space 2 and Bulletstorm's target audience
A while ago EA kicked off something called “Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2” through which mothers from various focus groups were subjected to violent gameplay clips. As expected, they were shell shocked with the shenanigans on screen and expressed their repulsion in highly annoying and exaggerated manners. EA obviously though this would be a “cool” way to appeal to the younger crowd who would line up just to play a game that their mothers would find repulsive.
This campaign was in a way pretty insulting to gamers who obviously felt the campaign was a bit too immature and dumb for their liking. In many countries, including India, the game’s rated 18 or Mature which clearly means it was meant for adults who have somewhat of a brain. They buy games because they want to and not because their “moms” have a problem with it. It also managed to annoy a parent’s advisory group called Common Sense Media who expressed their anger in a letter to the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board), requesting them to look into this matter as EA had created “an ad campaign that would be irresistible to teens and younger boys.”
Bulletstorm on the other hand prides itself as being a potty mouthed, over-the-top shooter which is fine by me. Protagonists like Duke Nukem and Serious Sam have gone down this road before and the masses loved them for it. With Bulletstorm though, it just seems developer People can Fly are trying a bit too hard. I can however look the other way as long as gameplay is solid but even the game’s marketing campaigns came across as downright embarrassing with grown men and women trying oh so hard to be edgy, badass and rebellious. Once again it seemed EA and Epic were targeting this game strictly at frat boys who’s heads would swoon with the “F” word and other more innovative abuses.
Now I may come across as someone who has a stick up his butt, or no sense of humour, but you have to understand that dumb marketing like this is only hurting the industry. I’m sure both Bulletstorm and Dead Space 2 will sell really well but when an industry is trying hard to break the cliched shackles chaining it down, this kind of marketing is only delaying the entire process. On one hand you’re trying to say that gamers are a mature bunch who have a handle on their emotions but on the other hand you paint them as this pubescent teen who’ll want to play a game only because it offends their mom. Is it just me or does that seem hypocritical?