Why So Serious?
Since the earliest messaging about Epic Games’ upcoming sci-fi shooter Bulletstorm, the studio has been very clear about one thing – in a sea of “serious shooters,” they wanted to make shooters fun again. And by all accounts, they’ve done just that. The demo has recieved a lot of love, and their marketing campaign is taking no prisoners. But with just three weeks to go until Bulletstorm is released, I can’t help but notice that there’s a conspicuous absence in their parody line-up.
The Bulletstorm marketing machine went into full force with several tongue-in-cheek ads that certainly drove home the sense of humor of the game’s developers and marketers. But all of that ratcheted up when a video titled “Last Call” was released. The video, embedded below, was Epic’s first solid jab at the so-called “serious shooters” that Bulletstorm is trying to set themselves apart from. And the ad is brilliant in it’s satire of the very famous Halo: Believe campaign’s “Diorama” advertisement, even going so far as to license the actual music from the original.
As a one-off, the ad would have been effective enough on it’s own. But the real brilliance of this campaign wasn’t felt for another few weeks. Just this week, Epic took their second swipe at “serious shooters” with a marketing game that parodies Call of Duty. The game, Duty Calls, takes it’s fair swings at Activision’s extremely successful shooter series in the most interactive way imaginable. You can view the trailer for the mini-game below, and play it for yourself at the link above.
In just under three weeks, Bulletstorm will release to the public, but there’s one other major shooter that hasn’t yet taken a right hook from Epic, and that’s their very own Gears of War. You can make the argument that Gears of War is plenty light-hearted, but underneath the Cole Train bravado and the Baird one-liners is a very serious story about fraternity, sacrifice, and xenocide. Serious business, no matter how many times you hear “Woo, baby!”
Epic’s “Mad World” advertisement for the original Gears of War certainly set the stage for a very serious style of game trailer, setting dramatic scenes of war against an unexpected soundtrack of Gary Jules’ somber “Mad World” cover. So dramatically effective was the trailer that we’ve seen it’s style copied by many other marketing departments for many other games. Is Epic willing to perform the ultimate quid-pro-quo and release a parody of their own serious shooter, perhaps with a “Mad World” parody? Personally, I hope they go for it. We’ve got three weeks to find out.