SLASHING THE STATUS QUO
Although Bandai Namco brought us on board to create a channel program for the pre-order and launch of its action role-playing title Dark Souls III, the work we put into the project felt a lot more like play.
Tasked with producing a GameStop pre-order strategy that would establish Dark Souls III as a AAA title in the retailer’s eyes in hopes of securing additional marketing support, we set out to shore up the retail relationship with a token of our appreciation for their ongoing advocacy. From pre-order incentives and associate mailer collateral to an original mobile game and original influencer YouTube content, the various moving parts of our multi-faceted strategy culminated in a channel program that rose to the level of a gaming experience itself.
To thank GameStop managers for being such excellent advocates, we designed the ultimate branded manager mailer: “So…You’re Thinking About Playing Dark Souls III,” a training guide designed and written in the spirit of the game itself with imaginative tales, tips and tricks from influencers.
As an added bonus, managers also received a three-dimensional bonfire paper-craft activity to assemble and display in-store. This associate education approach helps to ensure the managers’ continued advocacy, which actually reaches the core Dark Souls fan base. In addition to the associate education, gamers who pre-ordered Dark Souls III at GameStop also received our pre-order incentive—a limited edition Bonfire Keychain—upon pick-up of their day-one copy of the game.
While a separate brand campaign focused mainly on marketing to the core Dark Souls audience, another dimension of our work included promotional tactics that appealed to a more mass audience, inviting them in to what is traditionally known to be a very challenging, hardcore game. To reach this broader, more general audience of potentially less experienced gamers, we partnered with Bandai Namco to produce a "Let’s Play" video with actor/comedians and Dark Souls newbies Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller, which went live on YouTube just a few days before release.
T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani Play Dark Souls III
Although this video worked in tandem with our pre-order incentive package to promote the game in the real world, and our associate education initiatives provided the two-fold benefit of also being displayed in stores once complete, we were so jazzed about the campaign that we actually expanded our efforts even further. This passion translated into the creation of Slashy Souls: a brutally difficult, endless-runner mobile game, which encourages players to compete for high scores and earn badges. Built exclusively for GameStop and available in iOS and Google Play with or without pre-order purchase, Slashy Souls turned out to be as popular as it was addictive, garnering a three-star rating and positive, wide-spread coverage throughout the gaming world and into the mainstream, as well as substantial value-added marketing support from GameStop.
MOBILE GAME PRE-ORDER PROMOTION:
When all was said and done, we had established Dark Souls III as a AAA title in the retailer’s eyes and secured co-marketing support by creating the most all-consuming pre-order promotion asset ever offered. So what if we ended up with a nasty little Slashy Souls habit to work through? It was totally worth it.