I spent the weekend visiting friends in Southern California, and as usual, we ended up playing a lot of games. Highlights included Castle Crashers, Rock Band 2 (much more on this later, I’m sure), and a game called Pure. Haven’t heard of that last one? Neither had I. To bring you up to speed, Pure is an ATV racing game developed by Disney Interactive. It’s also totally awesome. (If you’re planning to stop reading now, please, let me assure you I don’t intend to gush about a racing game.)
To set the record straight, I’m not a big racing fan. I rarely buy racing games outside of Mario Kart and can really only get into arcade racers — which Pure definitely is. Even then, they almost always fall into the “rental” category for me. With that being said, in my limited experience with both, Pure is every bit as good as Motorstorm is. So why hadn’t I heard of Pure, but knew all about Motorstorm? Marketing, of course.
Call me naïve, but I like to think a great game’s quality will shine through, and magically by word of mouth, it will be a sleeper hit. Just look at how BioShock went from “a potentially cool FPS” to “not to be missed, regardless of genre”. Even Atlus games like Persona 3 or Etrian Odyssey developed their own cult followings. Maybe the problem is two-fold, and the genre is to blame, too? Are we just more predisposed to look for “hidden gems” within certain types of games, but not others?
Either way, Pure’s performance this year compared to the next Motorstorm’s should make for an interesting experiment — create two (nearly) identical product, market the hell out of one franchise and say nothing about the other, and see what the public perception on the two ends up being. I’m skeptical of developers like Jonathan Blow shooting their mouths off before their game even comes out, but now I’m seeing that’s just another form of increasing public awareness. As much as I hate the hype train, it seems to be a necessary evil. Meanwhile, here I am, sitting down to jot out a quick post about the power of marketing, and now I’m seriously wondering what else I’ve been missing. Maybe I should watch those “Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” posts more closely.
6 thoughts on “Pure hype”
They’ve been playing tons of commercials for that game here for the past two or three weeks. I thought it looked really awesome graphics-wise, but I figured it wouldn’t play as well as it looked. Maybe it’ll be something to pick out of the bargain bins in six months.
Internet buzz is essential for niche-markets like s/jrpgs and titles that are stuck at the unpopular lunch table, but, following the high-school cafeteria metaphor, games like Pure are the studly jock that shows up and hangs out with the cheerleaders with regards to retail sales. ATV racing games like Pure are meth-popsicles for the average Gamestop yahoo and sell great regardless of quality or exposure, even though you’re more like to see ads for it during monday night wrasslin’ as opposed to G4.
Pure IS a good game, though, with gratifying, SSX-style gameplay and rock solid gameplay so it’s eligible for Prom King and Mathlete.
Pure is getting a lot of TV advertising. That’s different from hype in the gaming press, I suppose, but this game IS being marketed.
For every Bioshock, there is a Psychonauts. Some games catch a wave at the right time and manage to bring in people out of their target demographic.
Stuff like Etrian Odyssey and Shiren the Wanderer really took this little corner of the Internet by storm. Puzzle Quest could also be thrown in there. As under-the-radar as that game was, it often ended up on people’s top ten of 2007 lists alongside games like Bioshock (although often as an honorable mention).
I think theres a racing game out there for everyone, regardless of favorite genres. It’s always such a weird feeling. For me I finally broke down and got Wipeout Pulse after racing the demo track I downloaded about 100 times. I was saying “I can’t believe i’m addicted to a damn racing game.” But it was so much fun!
I’m just wondering when it was that racing games became second only to the generic catch-all “sports games” in the diehard/veteran gamer pantheon of Shit I Don’t Care About. You’re going fast and pulling twitch-reflex maneuvers in a wicked-ass sports car (or motorcycle or hover-dealy). What’s not to like — or, at least, what’s to automatically dismiss?
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