Monday, February 14, 2011

Ad Nauseum: Rift

While most people are discussing Rift’s gameplay and lore, I wanted to touch on another aspect of the game that doesn’t bode well for its long term success.  We who read blogs know about a game’s release long before the average gamer that relies on traditional media, so it’s easy for us to forget that traditional print and television ads are an enormous contributor to the success of a game’s launch sales.  Trion has launched a multimedia campaign spanning television, internet ads and even comic book pages, all with the central tagline of “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that these ads look pretty cool, with the tentacles of an enormous monster clawing its way into the world as the hero looks on.  And on the surface the tagline seems like a good idea, because it could suggest that Azeroth was a boring and soft place compared to Telara, playing off of the phrase’s origin in the Wizard of Oz (Azeroth being Kansas, Telara being Oz). But I think this campaign could end up working against Rift’s success.

First of all, naming the world of the World of Warcraft is tacky and fanboyish, as they’re acknowledging WoW’s current dominance by relying on it's brand recognition for a clever tagline.  Combine that with a famous phrase that has been copied ad nauseum, and they end up with a rather low class cornerstone for a marketing campaign.

This ad is also misguided because they’re stressing the point that this game is VERY different from the most wildly popular MMO ever.  That might attract the minority of WoW players who are disgruntled with their current game, but fresh off the release of Cataclysm that minority has shrank significantly.  The context of the tagline and imagery of the ad suggests that Rift will be scarier, more dangerous and more difficult than WoW, only further alienating a playerbase who has slowly dragged WoW down into becoming more casual and less difficult.

Finally, even the metaphor they’re using doesn’t bode well for them, since they’re comparing WoW to Kansas and Rift to Oz.  I haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz in a long time, but I’m pretty sure Dorothy tours Oz (for less than thirty free days) then ends up back in Kansas.  So it almost seems like Trion is inviting WoW tourists.  Nice work, ad department.  At least the art is cool…

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