Getting Your Game Noticed: The GTA Method
There is a good article by Stephen Poole in the Guardian on the rise of GTA (he wrote the book Fun Inc, which I’d recommend as a good overview to the games industry). What struck me in the GTA article is how they got people to know about the game, after all the gaming world is littered with great games that nobody either knew about and/or purchased…
Max Clifford was hired to advise on the PR for the game’s 1997 release. Cannily, he advised DMA to feed the tabloids the most outrageous details possible. “It was scary and impressive how he laid out his plan to manipulate the media and the politicians,” Jones says. “It culminated in a two-hour feature on breakfast TV debating the game. At this point, the politicians lambasting the game had not even seen it – I think they were disappointed when they did, given the cartoony look.” The tabloids duly issued calls to ban this sick filth, the British Police Federation said it was “sick, deluded and beneath contempt”, and the game became a hit. Grand Theft Auto the countercultural phenomenon was born.
Strikes me that there is a high risk strategy going on there; if the backlash gets to the point where distribution suffers (a point taken up later in the article) then it can be bad. But if you get enough anger that you get pure hype; then its all sales, sales, sales. Other examples of this include the row over Resistance: The Fall of Man where the church inadvertently helped to hype the game.