Musings: Why does Sony hate Killzone?

Ok, I know Sony doesn’t hate Killzone, but it most certainly doesn’t look like they’re making much of an effort to market it properly. It’s a fact that had been bothering me ever since I heard about the demo situation. Then I overheard the fine gentlemen of giantbomb.com discussing this same issue and I decided to write something up about it. Anyone who takes a look at the game instantly knows that they have to play it, it’s that damn pretty. Its release has the potential to be a massive Metal Gear Solid 4 sized event for the PS3, but instead it looks as if Sony’s content with hoping for long sales legs on this one.

First of all, they’ve chosen, at least for America, to release an early demo only to suckers who preorder the game at Gamestop, everyone else will have to wait until the day before the game’s release. What the hell kind of backwards thinking is that? A preorder is pretty much a down payment on a game. It’s a paid statement of intent to purchase. A demo is to convince someone who is as of yet undecided on whether or not they are going to purchase the game, that yes, the game is cool, and spend $60 on it. Then why give a demo only to people who have pledged to purchase the game? It’s bizarre. It obviously has something to do with financial deals between Sony and Gamestop, but hampering the hype and launch of a game of this magnitude and importance is certainly not worth whatever Gamestop is paying them.

Demos can do wonders for a game. Let’s take a look back at 2007 and a little game called Bioshock. All us nerds were getting caught up in its massive tidal wave of hype, but no one could have expected it to sell nearly half a million units in a little over a week. That’s right, Bioshock was the third best selling game of August 2007, selling about 490,000 units and it was released on August 21. What was it that led to that massive early adoption? Well for starters the game came out in August, a month removed from the launch of Halo 3, and the subsequent deluge of AAA titles, a move smartly also made by Sony in Killzone’s case, but in the end thwarted by a similar delay to February by many games. It also had a public demo released a little more than a week before the games launch. That demo became the fastest to reach one million downloads on Xbox Live and the most downloaded in the history of the service. For that week people were talking about about Bioshock nonstop and if you saw a commercial for it or heard something great about it from a friend you were able to hop onto your Xbox or PC and download the demo for yourself.

Now, the release of Killzone 2 is only about a month away and I haven’t seen any sort of mainstream promotion for the game or much promotion in the enthusiast press for that matter. Sony representatives have said that they expect MGS 4 like sales from Killzone, which means one million units in the US alone. For a console exclusive on the PS3, one without a very relevant IP, to reach those numbers is going to take either a massive miracle or a massive ad campaign. They’ve got a super slick trailer out there (embedded below) just begging for TV spot placement. Better yet, put it out in movie theaters. The trailer followed by a a stupid message like “See it for yourself. Download the demo on the Playstation Network Today” on TVs and before movies could be major, like really huge.

Come on Sony, it’s not that hard…jeez.
http://www.giantbomb.com/video/video.swf

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About Matt Gerardi
Matt Gerardi is a journalist and musician. He also happens to write about video games.

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