You've patched in to the enemy's security system: get ready to make your plan. Frozen Synapse is the ultimate strategy game: you have full control over your strike team, directing their every movement. At the same time, your opponent is plotting to defeat you. Plan your moves, then hit the "Execute" button: both you and your enemy's turns are executed simultaneously. Bite-size, hardcore strategy with a striking sci-fi aesthetic.

Report article RSS Feed “Frozen Synapse: terrible PR, wonderful game.”

We respond to recent criticism of our PR for Frozen Synapse with our side of the story...

Posted by Mode7Games on Jun 23rd, 2010

Hello. My name's Paul Taylor and I do PR and Marketing for Mode 7 Games. If that sounds confessional, it is. I had an experience today which was a bit like someone offering me a beer with one hand and sticking a pencil in my ear with the other.

Kieron Gillen posted on RockPaperShotgun asking readers to nominate games that they thought were in dire need of PR assistance. we came out as very popular!

Here's one comment from Schaulustiger:

"Frozen Synapse. It’s indie, it’s from the UK and their PR is nearly as bad as it can get."

That pretty much sums up the general opinion of the thread; quite a few people wanted to jump in support that point of view. There is, of course, an irony here which you may be able to spot, but that's by the by.

Anyway, beer: we love the game! Pencil-in-ear: you're rubbish!

Firstly, what is Frozen Synapse? You probably haven't heard of it...

It's a fast-paced tactical game which has been called, variously, “turn-based Counterstrike” and “psychic chess”. It has single player and multiplayer modes; it's on PC and Mac; if you pre-order it now you get the beta and a free copy for a friend. People like it a lot.

It looks like this:

General screenshots with more subdued BG

If you are interested, I wanted to break down our side of the story so far for your amusement, interest and criticism; maybe other indies will be interested from a practical point of view too.

Phases
Here are what I believe to be the phases of PR for pretty much any game...

  • Teaser
  • Announcement
  • In-development
  • Preview
  • Pre-order
  • Release
  • Post-release

Let's look at how we've tackled each of these so far...

Teaser

Teasers undoubtedly work best with popular properties or developers that already have some brand value and buzz around them. However, an indie could break through with some amazing bespoke art, or something very unusual.

We didn't do a teaser, because I didn't think sites would accept one from devs they'd never heard of, and we didn't have the money to pay for anything striking enough.

Retrospectively, I know I'm wrong about this. I think paying money for a teaser is a gamble, but one that could pay off for an unknown indie. If you have in-house art talent with spare time on its hands (we don't) then this is definitely something to consider.

We wanted to do something before we could talk about the game, so we started a podcast (Visiting the Village) and advertised it. People liked it and it did translate directly into some pre-orders. This is something we want to build up as our community grows: we just rebooted it and it's adding listeners each fortnight.

Announcement

By this I mean the "X developer is working on Y game”-type announcement.

At this stage, you will most likely only have concept art. Very few news sites are willing to post based on your concept art alone unless you are a well-known developer. Your announcement will effectively consist of, “[Someone you've never heard of] is working on [something you've never heard of]”. If you've ever read Games Press you will know what I'm talking about.

That's not a reason to stay quiet about something at the concept art stage by any means, it just makes this one of the hardest phases and impossible to achieve widespread coverage.

This is where indies start getting into trouble through under-capitalisation. If you want to keep your art budget down, you keep concept art to a minimum - it's easy to burn cash on it, as it's expensive. But conversely you're screwing yourself over PR-wise through lack of assets: we didn't know that at the time.

I have identified this as a problem and taken steps to fix it: our promo art will be a lot better from now on.

Anyway, we did go with a concept-art-only announcement and this was worthwhile: we achieved some coverage and it opened some doors with quite a few journalists who said, "This looks cool - send me more info when you get further along.”

At this point, I wanted to test some of my beliefs and assumptions about indie game marketing so I wrote this article for Gamasutra.

This actually got us quite a bit of attention and I still hold firm to many of the opinions I espoused there. I personally showed this to quite a few other developers and got some good feedback on it. Honestly, I was expecting people to pick holes, but nobody wanted to.

I've always tried to expose my marketing plans to scrutiny – I've talked in public about game marketing many times and I like getting picked up on points where I'm wrong – this helps me learn. We have a marketing mentor from a large publisher and I also take advice from other successful indies. The only other way of learning marketing is by messing up marketing, and this is not fun.

We also took an early version of the game to Nottingham's Gamecity festival, where we ran a competition to play the devs at it, which was sponsored by Novint, Warp Records and several other indie devs. We did a press release accompanying this and Gamecity also ran PR on it through their agency. After the event, we released a couple of videos and I wrote a piece for Gamasutra breaking down what we felt did and didn't work.

I was disappointed with the reaction to this: it was our attempt to do something unusual and striking, but for a number of reasons, we didn't get enough of a PR purchase on it. I'd put this down to not having a big enough list by this time, and, paradoxically, the game not being well-known enough. Gamecity was a fantastic event and I'm proud to support it – they weren't able to push our event because...well...nobody knew who we were. I'm pleased that we managed to keep the costs very low – that was important to me.

We asked Gamecity to be a bit more coordinated with getting events and journalists connected together, and I'm certain they'll take that on board for this year: we'll be there again.

I wrote about this, again for the indie-friendly and lovely Gamasutra, here.

The event did reach some people, and it was extremely useful in testing the game: as I mentioned in the article, it's all about scale and cost with these things.

Our PR list has been steadily improving throughout development. This is one area where having additional help would have been great: building a list is super time-consuming and it's hard to have a full list ready to go right before you announce anything. Now, I'd say that our list is much healthier, with real contacts in a lot of places that it's quite hard to get into. Some PR agencies make you pay lots of money (like more-money-than-our-entire-art-budget-lots-of-money) to just send out one press release to their list.

I don't think our problem at this point was reach: I think it was inertia. There was no reason for anyone to listen to us – we were extremely grateful to those who did.

Some sites are very supportive of indie developers – BoingBoing and Gamespot UK in particular are great places to go. Others, like IGN and 1UP for some reason are extremely resistant to opening lines of communication.

I don't hold this against anyone, by the way, it is just the nature of news. Also, we never give up trying to get covered by a particular outlet – I don't take any refusals personally because I know how things work– it's always just because there is more interesting news out on that particular day and persistence usually pays off.

So, did we struggle around the initial announcement? Yes. I have some ideas about what we should do differently next time, because I think we flunked this. My question is, “Can an unknown indie developer pull off a successful announcement without a video?” It will certainly be easier for us in the future.

In-development

If you're a major publisher, you will normally make your announcement accompanied by a pre-rendered movie that is honed and crafted with a specialist team working only on marketing assets. I sound like I'm turning my nose up at that - I'm not - this can be very, very effective despite the large quantity of Internet whining which tends to accompany it.

Personally, I don't believe that it's helpful for an indie to come out with a huge pre-rendered monstrosity: I think promising the earth at this stage can be extremely damaging to your reputation.

However, I think a subtle concept video could really work well and kick off PR early on: it's something I'll consider. As we couldn't announce with a trailer, we made one while the game was approaching late-alpha. We tried to make something as compelling as possible...

We achieved 25,000 views on this fairly quickly. Retrospectively, I now see why many publishers pay for significant advertising of their first trailer but this discussion is about PR.

Although this trailer started to get us interest, we were hit hard by our lack of content here – once you've seen the game and all its modes, all that's left is really much of the same because it has a pared-down aesthetic. We do have some twists in mind for future trailers, but again lack of visual content is a hindrance.

The game's instant YouTube export does mean that it's easy for players to share their own videos, and we've definitely seen some pre-orders off the back of that. I'm expecting this effect to grow with the size of the community.

We did release media and info regularly through this ModDB page – this helped to build up a little community around the game. There was absolutely no way we could ever have got this content pushed out to big sites – us making a new model for the sniper was not news – however, the little group on here who were interested definitely helped us out a great deal. ModDB themselves were brilliant and featured us many times, nominating us for Upcoming Indie Game of the Year.

For games that have more visual content, I'd advocate a progressive series of video releases throughout development. This is actually our plan during the pre-order phase...

Pre-order

...which is where we are now.

This kicked off with our major pre-order trailer in April which got us a very good response...

Off the back of this, we started previewing as widely as possible. We tried to visit everywhere in the UK we could (and have anyone visit us who wanted to) – places like Eurogamer, RPS, Gamespot, Resolution and all the Future magazines were very welcoming. Everywhere else that we can possibly get to in the UK is under constant battery from me to cover the game!

After that, we were inundated daily with requests to do previews and get hold of beta code – this was brilliant and I really hope we managed to get code and info out to people quickly enough.

We struggled initially to get on some of the major sites in the US: Joystiq would only cover our initial announcement, not our release, which was vexing. We would love them to do a “hands-on” – I keep asking! Destructoid are still silent. We've recently managed to get in touch with someone at Kotaku and we're excited to show him the game very soon. We had a very nice “Quick Look” on Giant Bomb recently which was very much appreciated and brought us a lot of traffic. These things are an ongoing battle, and I know we still have a way to go with US-coverage.

If you Google the game now you will see some of the fruits of this period. Please tell me if you spot a major site we've missed: it's very possible, and actually our community were very helpful with this at one point.

We've followed up our initial trailer with some other things – a lot more community involvement and a couple of sillier videos for Eurogamer among others. This sort of behaviour is definitely something we'd like to continue in future – I would really like to inject a bit more personality into our public face; a kind of PR-oriented non-poisnous Botox.

My metaphors were not responsible, but when sales dropped, we did a sneaky little promotion to tie in with the election.

This kind of thing is a great short, sharp PR point – I would recommend it, although it was so last minute that we struggled to get the news out in time. Planning further ahead is definitely something I need to do more!

Finally, we've done some coverage around the music for the game which I composed. Computer Music in the UK did a very extensive interview with me, including a look at my production techniques, and I also did a little thing with MusicRadar.

I'm currently working on an interview for the awesome CDM, which I'm hoping to finish later today. Finally, there should be a big, exciting announcement about the soundtrack coming very soon...

The state of play

When E3 hit, our sales disappeared. They have since recovered – it was a very odd effect to witness – the news channels simply got jammed and people were suddenly obsessed with new games that weren't out yet. When the excitement died down, they reverted to seeking out new games they can actually play right now!

We used this time to work exclusively on the game without talking in public, and plan our return to pushing the game soon. I think this was the right decision: I stand by my assertion that it's not sensible to compete with giant news stories. Indie game news is best for slow news days: sneaking onto the bigger sites when Microsoft aren't dropping meme bombs on the world.

Sometimes, you need to work on your game without talking about it, otherwise you start promising things. We've been extremely careful not to promise features that won't make it into the final game.

We got asked recently if we've “lost momentum”: I don't think we have at all. In fact, I was delighted to see that people noticed when we did stop talking. I wanted to give everyone a little bit of a break from us before we came back with new things to talk about. There is now an awareness of our game, which gives us some leverage when we do choose to release new media or talk about things.

Future plans

This week, I took a look at things and saw a window to do some more PR: that's why we've now started to work on a brand new trailer.

I will be pushing very hard to get some coverage in countries other than the US and UK, as this is where we're seriously lacking. Despite coverage from our friends at Canard PC in France, BGAMER in Portugal and several other places, we should be doing more to reach a European audience. If we've not been covered well in your country, I'd love an email with some suggestions of websites and magazines you read.

The single player portion of the game is where I think a lot of our later-stage PR will come – the kind of stuff you'd expect from a much bigger game – there will be a lot more opportunities when we have more content ready to go. I'm very excited about this but we have to keep a lid on things until we're set with what we're doing.

I'd like to do some more development-centric content: why we designed things a certain way, what new features people can expect and so on. You will see some of this around the place soon.

You will see much more around the place soon.

I work on building the list every day if I can. I'm happy to talk to anyone who is interested in covering us.

We're looking into things like upcoming events, conferences etc. etc. We've entered Indiecade and the PAX 10. I'm desperately hoping we can get to PAX as that will definitely help us meet journalists in the US. We'll be entering the IGF; we'll enter anything. I'll speak anywhere that I'm invited.

We're still in early beta and we're a way off from release: our PR is out of the blocks and running, but we're by no means in full flow.

“Nearly as bad as it can get”

Do you want to read two poorly organised paragraph about my feelings? If not, please look away now.

I'm genuinely mortified by the idea that I'm under-representing Frozen Synapse, that people I've dealt with and members of our community think I'm terrible, that the job I do every day is a failure. Receiving this opinion is not fun. I want to know specifically what I'm doing wrong so that I can improve and give this game the attention it deserves.

Most of all, I'm hurt by the perception that we're not trying, that we somehow need to be shaken. All I can say is that I am completely committed to making this game a success, and I will listen with great eagerness to anything you have to say on that matter. Now, I'm aware that the sentiment is, “The game deserves more coverage”, and that's lovely, but I seriously want to address the perception that we are not doing all we can.

(And we're back.)

Now, I open the floor. If there are sites you think should cover us, please let me know. If there are activities you think we should be doing, events we should attend, or places you think we should be spending money that we are not, please let me know. Break down our terrible PR and help us build it back up again.

If you are a journalist and I haven't talked to you yet, or I haven't talked to you enough, I apologise totally. I am talking to you now: interesting things are happening at Mode 7 Towers; drop me an email.

Finally, as Ian said on the original comments thread, thanks for the mentions. Nothing is more important to us than the fact that people feel passionately about our game.

Post comment Comments
SquidLord
SquidLord Jun 23 2010, 6:28pm says:

First off, I just want to say that Frozen Synapse is one of the games I'm seriously looking forward to not only playing once it's released but experiencing the milestones along the way. As far as the game goes, I'm an early adopter; Frozen Synapse searches out that little gaming place that my soul inhabits and relentlessly targets it with artillery. I'm in for the ride, without question.

Secondly, I think it's worth saying that I believe that the people who are implying that Mode 7 Games -- and specifically you -- aren't doing everything that they can in order to get Frozen Synapse in front of as many eyes as possible, well, they have an inflated idea of their own understanding of the promotion of a product. Rest assured, some of us out here understand how hard a job is for you to get the game in front of not just reporters but likely players. The only way to sell a game is to get eyes on it, and it is very, very difficult to get eyes on something that's not backed by major player, whether it's financially or memeticly. It's simply hard, and you have to be commended by anyone who understands how hard the job is for doing as much as you have for Mode 7 Games. You deserve all the kudos and at-a-boys that we as a community can find to heap on you.

You, sir, are doing a hard and unforgiving job and doing it well. Have no doubts on that point.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 23 2010, 6:54pm says:

That's much appreciated - thank you.

+4 votes   reply to comment
Squiggers
Squiggers Jun 23 2010, 8:02pm says:

You do more than plenty of other developers that I can think of are doing in regards to their project's PR work - hell, you do a much better job than I've done so far for mine, but that isn't hard to do after all in my opinion.

Honestly, I think PR is probably one of the harder jobs to do for indie/mod teams, as its got to be done exactly right: one step wrong, and you've blown it practically.

On a side note, if you're interested in a bit of extra PR mate, have a looky at this when you've got a bit of time on your hands:

Indiedb.com

+3 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 23 2010, 8:14pm says:

Thanks, and I'd love to be on your podcast - just drop me an email and we'll sort it out.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Threvlin
Threvlin Jun 23 2010, 10:29pm says:

I saw the teaser for this a while ago, may have been on Joystiq I'm not sure, but this article has been the first time I've read that it's coming out on Mac as well. Now I am very interested. I'm not sure how much help I can offer on the PR front since I haven't been actively looking for Frozen Synapse news, but I definitely can't wait to see where this is going. Keep up the great work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 5:19am replied:

Thanks - yep, we did try and get an announcement out on all the Mac sites we could find, but...there aren't many! Mac beta is, as you say, available now and you can get both if you pre-order.

+1 vote   reply to comment
GGTL
GGTL Jun 24 2010, 2:32am says:

And you leave out the exclusive interview with GGTL?

For shame, Paul...

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 5:19am replied:

That's what happens with terrible PR!

+3 votes   reply to comment
Zooch
Zooch Jun 24 2010, 10:30am says:

Without looking further into the game itself (I'm at work), do you have localization set up?

Advertising your game in neighboring countries is nice, but what about the millions and millions (and millions) of people on the far east coast/pacific?

Also, are you just setting up PR for France or is your game completely localized to handle the French language? I'm a snobby American who mumbles a couple languages poorly, but if I saw a game that was only in French (and not localized for English-speaking countries) I'd pass it up 100% of the time. That is, of course, just my opinion but I think it's a popular one.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 11:32am replied:

Very good point - we don't currently have localised versions of the game - it's something that's on my mind.

I'm personally not sure of how much of an issue it is in European countries - certainly there are quite a few successful downloadable indie titles I know of which aren't localised. I DO know that localisation is costly, time-consuming and fairly painful, but if there is demand there we will obviously do it.

We have certainly seen quite a few pre-orders from France (thanks guys!) already off the back of the press we have received there, so this is made me assume that it does not matter for quite a few people there at least.

My German friends who are gamers never seemed to mind when something wasn't localised - they greatly preferred original language versions to poor localisations as well.

Definitely would like to hear more about this issue from people, though.

In terms of other territories, I will definitely be looking into them. I have heard that China, Korea and Japan in particular are very challenging for even major Western publishers to reach - that's not going to stop me investigating, obviously, but at the moment I think it's better to stick to maximising awareness in countries where there isn't a possible additional barrier to entry.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Noremakk
Noremakk Jun 24 2010, 11:40am says:

I thought your PR was quite good, actually. You have all these regular announcements and progress reports to keep me excited for the game.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 1:09pm replied:

Thanks - we try!

+1 vote   reply to comment
udm
udm Jun 24 2010, 11:49am says:

No worries Paul. You do what you have to. Managing PR is not easy imho, since part of the task falls on luck too. Keep revving those engines though, brother :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 1:10pm replied:

Thanks mate - yep, you do need some luck and we've had some, certainly. Here's hoping for more in the future!

+1 vote   reply to comment
nlr
nlr Jun 24 2010, 1:29pm says:

To get easy PR from Giant Bomb, just send them something weird in the mail!

Oh, and btw, I think you guys do a very good job on PR for the kind of people who hang round ModDB... lots of developer updates etc... Please don't lose that in the push towards a more mainstream audience.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 1:48pm replied:

Mailing weird stuff seems to happen a lot...we'll have to think about it!

We definitely want to keep up the developer updates - we'll definitely still do those whatever happens.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Warrozo
Warrozo Jun 24 2010, 3:30pm replied:

Your PR works well guys, learning a lot from your progress!

+1 vote     reply to comment
overlordror
overlordror Jun 24 2010, 3:27pm says:

I have to agree with Mr. Roboto. I'm always checking ModDB.com and now IndieDB.com to find updates for the games I am tracking instead of heading to the individual website. By keeping your profile here up to date, you're doing yourself a real service. Keep it up.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 24 2010, 3:50pm replied:

Thanks - I always respond to things that work. Posting on ModDB and IndieDB *works* because it brings your game to a very attentive audience. It's exciting to be able to get an immediate response to your posts.

+1 vote   reply to comment
formerlyknownasMrCP
formerlyknownasMrCP Jun 24 2010, 9:21pm says:

Can't say I'm a fan of teasers, but I understand why you've got problems with showing off the game, it definitely does have a problem with the fact that once you've shown it off, that's basically all the consumer is getting in terms of visuals- so there's nothing to be really over excited about of "what could be in the game"- which is usually what gets people hyped the most. (and in many cases creates the most controversy- so it can come back to bite you in the *** in a massive way.)

I also agree with the points that ModDB/IndieDB is a great PR source for developers. Having a strong presence here is a very great way to get noticed (just look at Overgrowth and Mech Warrior Living Legends, very strong presence here at ModDB. Granted Overgrowths posts do come off a bit "update... oh look another update... and another update" all in the same day. I'm more a fan of the MWLL news posts due to how in-depth they are and how well presented they are.)

+1 vote     reply to comment
leekish
leekish Jun 25 2010, 8:49am says:

Howdy!

When I first found out about Frozen Synapse, which was a couple months ago after I've joined the moddb as a developer, you bought my interest immediately. I believe it was because of the original concept you have rather than anything else.

I think what the guys who said your PR was bad really meant is that they wanted to emphasis the fact that Frozen Synapse - as such a great title - should get way more publicity than it does and it was just out of pure courtesy, kind of a strong recommendation. I wouldn't take it too personally if I were you.

Since I started following the progress of your game, I have been immersed into studying your PR campaign very very thoroughly ever since. And I mean it. I've already read almost everything that you've posted on the PR issues so far and I just can't express my appreciation towards you for sharing all these insights with us! Extremely useful stuff. Keep it up!

Cheers from Poland!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 27 2010, 12:36pm replied:

Thanks mate! As I tried to make clear in my post, we definitely appreciate the sentiment behind the comments, but what is most useful is practical advice.

It's like someone saying, "Your game design is terrible". What do they mean by that - are they saying that they don't like the game, or that they think the game doesn't hit its demographic? It's impossible to know, because it's not backed up with any information.

If someone had the opinion - "I only read about games on 1UP - this game was not on 1UP, so therefore it has terrible PR" - that's useful data, though perhaps a little over the top.

You're right, though, the motivation behind the post is positive. I decided to show my feelings here, which I don't normally, just because I really wanted to flag how profoundly I care about this. I want our community to know that we're 100% behind this game and we are going to make it work - I want there to be no ambiguity about that.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Mars_3K
Mars_3K Jun 25 2010, 10:02am says:

FS is very oldskool. The gaming world needs more oldskool. Your work reminds me of Introversion's, who garnered a lot of praise for Darwinia in PC Gamer IIRC. But Introversion seem to have lost a little momentum of late, and I fail to see why FS couldn't step in to fill the void.

Good luck, all the same.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 27 2010, 12:37pm replied:

Thanks! I met Chris Delay from Introversion the other day - he is a super nice chap and their new game looks ace. It's nice to be compared to them.

+1 vote   reply to comment
DIT
DIT Jun 26 2010, 8:57am says:

Thank you for sharing with us your PR experience.
These informations have an enormous value for small indie developers!

Good luck!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 27 2010, 12:37pm replied:

Thanks for this - it's nice to know that I might be helping out other indies.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Schaulustiger
Schaulustiger Jun 27 2010, 8:47am says:

So, I'm the RPS guy you quoted at the beginning of your article. I just stumbled upon this article and feel the need to comment.
First, to clear things up, I'm also the one behind the inofficial Teaser Trailer you also linked here.

Now why did I state that your "PR is as bad as it can get"? Definitely not to make you feel bad about it or to criticise your efforts which - as a reader of the FS blog and ModDB articles - are commendable and full of honesty. My point is: You have to get the interest of the mainstream crowd, not just the indie fans. The latter you can convince just by showing what the game is like. Those kind of people don't care about graphics, polish or huge coverage, they like the idea behind the game and its mechanics. The mainstream crowd, in comparison, is already being bombarded with tons of AAA and AA titles. In my humble opinion, they judge games not mainly by the idea behind it but by the kind of interest that a trailer (or screenshot) generates.
I do have a circle of friends who are really into (multiplayer) gaming. They come from different gaming backgrounds but they all appreciate a good game. They can easily be interested in something not so hugely popular, e.g. a mod, as long as they see a trailer or a screenshot which is exciting and promises something great.

to be continued below... (stupid 2000 character limitation)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Schaulustiger
Schaulustiger Jun 27 2010, 8:48am says:

I think that the Frozen Synapse trailers fail in that particular respect. They show the game as it is: a duel of tactics, slow-paced strategy and deep underlying mechanics. But that's the kind of things that (again: in my opinion) don't win over a crowd. It's what keeps them playing once they tried it. But to arouse their interest you have to rely on the spectacular: Say why FS provides awesome moments and show them! A round with a triple rocket-kill and a shotgun finisher looks sweet and together with the phrase "It's a strategy game" sparked the interested of a friend of mine who was fairly unimpressed by the official trailer.

So, long story short: I think trailers are one of the most important tools in PR. They get linked everywhere, they can be easily watched and whenever my friends and I decided to try some game, it initially was a trailer that got us all interested. And it didn't need to be a standard gameplay trailer, it could be anything related to the game.

My intent on RPS was not to inply that you failed at marketing (and thus: your job) but to say that you are not able to reach beyond the indie crowd. This is tough, I admit that, and I'm not exactly a PR mastermind myself, I can just speak for myself, a group of gaming friends and our experiences.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Schaulustiger
Schaulustiger Jun 27 2010, 8:50am says:

(One quick addition that's not really related: I often wonder why only so few game provide in-game movie tools. They are a relatively cheap way to help users make tons of movies. It's free advertising for the developer and a healthy machinima/movie community can keep public interest in the game for a long time: Look at TF2. Look at Quake 3, the game with the best movie tools I've ever seen and even now, more than ten years after its release, people produce high-quality movies - one reason why the game is still healthy and alive. Plus, movie tools can help the developers to make a professional-looking movie. I always shudder at official trailers with stuttering mouse scrolling and "we-use-WASD-for-cinematic-camera-movement" stuff. Horrible!)

That's it. Sorry for three posts but I felt the need to give a longer explanation of my initial statement on RPS.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games Jun 27 2010, 12:42pm replied:

Hi! Yes, I thought I recognised the name, and no offence taken! I wanted to open up this issue to a proper discussion and I really appreciate the fact that you've now done that.

Your point about the trailers is absolutely correct - they are there to portray the game as intriguing / atmospheric and show off the gameplay.

We deliberately targeted them at people who want to think a little bit more about their games - why? Because the game is at an early pre-order stage: we want people in *first* who are able to deal with that and understand it.

Now, when we come to release the game, we are going to have a huge PR push up to launch. That is the time, as you correctly assume, that we want to hit the mainstream.

Your promo trailer was absolutely brilliant, because it took the presentation of the game in a new direction. It was very high-energy, punching and exciting; whereas the other trailers were slow and atmospheric. It's given me a lot of inspiration for what we *could* do to reach a different kind of audience.

We just wanted to hit early adopters first, and everyone else with the polished finished product. Let's see how we get on!

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Frozen Synapse
Platforms
Windows, Mac, Linux
Developer & Publisher
Mode 7 Games
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Frozensynapse.com
Release Date
Released May 25, 2011
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