Dante's Inferno - Only the Beginning of the story.
Welcome to Hell.
Visceral Games' Dante's Inferno had a 'Hell' of a lot of marketing attention before it was launched.
EA orchestrated a deep, viral, marketing campaign to not simply generate interest for the game, but exploited some of the subject matter of the game. Among the 'activities', there were internet stunts, Press campaign and E3 stunts, to name a few. Each not being a simple feat; they fully intended/were aware Dante's Inferno to be big. For what it's worth, it worked.
Based off of the first part of the Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri. The Inferno is part 1 of 3. Proposed of Dante traversing Hell in search for his love, Beatrice. Aided by the Poet Virgil, Dante goes thru all 9 circles of Hell. Though that is all well known.
Dante's Inferno 2010 Super Bowl ad.
Treading in Digital.
Among all that was used to market the game, there was the simplest method: Digital. But this wasn't exactly simple for those following the trail. Starting off of the Official Dante's Inferno Twitter, the bomb was dropped for this 'stealth marketing'.
EA had arrangements with the following websites:
With the arrangement, EA sent each one an ASCII art (text forming a coherent image). Each image had a pass-code within the text, which later revealed to be 'redeemable' on a (later labeled as a viral) website they had hosted, which is now offline.
The way it was set up is there was the typical age gate. but had a place for 6 individual passwords. Inputting the passwords, in no particular order:
Upon doing so, enabled a file to be downloaded. Under the name: Earthly Rewards. The single file contained artwork samples (even marketing posters), a short art-book PDF, the ASCII art pieces (in a text file as well as an actual image file) and 3 mp3 files.
A way to wet the appetite to those already waiting. Giving them something to do while waiting was EA's way to generate and maintain interest for the game.
I will get it hosted for download soon.
Close to the Digital method, EA had produced a high res T.V. ad for the 2010 Super Bowl. With the pleasant, yet fitting song (originally composed by Bill Withers) "Ain't No Sunshine".
With the viral website and passwords, they allowed a simple Flash Game to be produced to further assist patiently awaiting fans.
It was of a simple design: Have 4 'zombies' (in-game are called Shades), and let them hit objects from the 9 circles of hell on their way down. Coupled with leader-boards for those who like to compete, it was just a short sample that never got any other form of incarnation.
Luckily the website is still hosted. So if you would like to play the game, even just a single round, you can do so, here:
There are no downloadable rewards or anything for playing this; is for just entertainment.
Following suit with the Social Media marketing, EA had arranged for a few Facebook applications/games to be made. All of these are no longer online, but I still retain the links and will describe each one.
There were 3: each with their own functions utilized by Facebook existing functions. 2 were based off of who was in your friends list while the other was an 'RPG' of sorts.
This one, you would launch the ap, and select anyone from your friends list, and you would send them to hell. Nothing big, just hell. Pretty much, gave you control over who to damn and who to save (figuratively speaking). Others could do/had the same control over you.
This one is similar to the Go To Hell app but quite different as well. Where in this app you could only damn your friend list buddies, but you had control over particular torments to unleash unto them. Each of the 9 Circles of Hell contained a handful of torments. So customizing their 'torture' was at hand.
This one was the RPG kind of game. Prone to the Facebook formula of Health, Stamina and usually Magic, this one had a variant: Health, Virtue and Energy.
The way the game was set up, was you would make your Dante (a choice between an Angry Dante, a Lustful Dante or a Greedy Dante), then you would click on a 'Task'. Each time you would accept it, the Task's completion meter (0-100%) would fill and a certain amount of Stamina would be used. Effectively 'buying' a completion for the task. Each Circle of Hell, including Limbo, had tasks needed before the next Circle would open. When you have completed all the tasks available within a Circle, you are faced with that area's Boss. Done in the same fashion but the Boss can damage your health during the 'fight'. So it was an addition to the already simple tasks.
You could complete each task up to 3 times, to earn more experience and level up your attributes. Though when your Energy get's depleted, you had to wait a certain amount of time for it to regenerate. Filled 1 point at a time, minutes at a time.
You also could compete with any player for a one-on-one match. Basically a computer calculated kind of match where your attributes are matched with the opposition's, making the odds of winning vary (0-100% Chance, depending who you attack). Others can do the same to you. Winning rewards you with gold and experience, loosing will reduce the gold you currently hold onto.
You were also able to send 'gifts' to fellow players; certain items your experience level would unlock, to send them aid. Which they could send something in return as well. You could obtain items from completing tasks, from friends or from purchasing from a store. Which contains weapons, armor and collectibles. All aided your attributes for added benefit.
All in all, it was a toned down, more RPG version of the game. Each circle of Hell. Certain named people from the game itself cameo in some form within this incarnation. And overall was something to do either waiting for the game or after you were done with the game and still wanted something "Dante's Inferno" flavored.
To get an idea for this RPG version, someone went ahead and did a 'Strategy Guide' for it. Not really covering much of the game (offline probably a factor with it) but showing enough to get the picture across.
Hell is Not a Game.
Attacked at EA.
The Marketing Crusade.
Leaping over to the in-life marketing, EA had some ideas up their sleeves as well. Ranging from a 'game' for fans at Comic-con 2009, to a website where fans would submit their guilty deeds for a Sin competition (you'll see why I place this with the in-life marketing soon) and a Protest which occurred at E3 2009. All very elaborate, but some of it goes deeper than one may gain from a first glance.
Here is why:
- Sin To Win.
At Comic-Con 2009, EA had some flyers about (and some smaller handouts) promoting their game. Where anyone willing would go and get their photo taken with a Booth Babe. The point was to get photographic evidence of a Lustful Act. In which case, a generous compliment to the booth babes, many people did. To the point that it upset other folks. Forcing EA to write an apology for the game (letter pictured on the right).
This is where I'll explain why I categorize this one as in-life marketing.
How it works, is they have a website (still online) where participating contestants would send in their 'Sin' and categorize which type of sin it would be. Act of payback/revenge would be Anger. Cheating on a significant other would be Just, and so one (you know the drill).
Confessing, in either a self recorded video or by text (email), would enter you within the contest, which would ultimately decide who get's a copy of Dante's Inferno game.
Due to the site still being online, go check it out and see what some folks 'confess'.
Now this is one that caught everyone off guard. Hiring several people to protest the game because of its 'Hell' nature. Their slogan: Hell is not a game. There is a video online about a part of the protest as well as a video with the 'leader' speaking on behalf of the protesters as well as 'supporters'.
This generated a lot of ill buzz about it, upsetting some devout faithful folks as well as naught. But the protest did it's job of increasing awareness of the game's existence.
The Protest went so far as to start up an online group (either borrowing an existing group's website, or starting it and selling it to different owners, with an actual expressed cause), and causing a fake Wii support group to 'form', called MASS.
Mass was their effort to show that not all games are bad, that you could download an ap for your Wii that would enable you to participate at a provided Church.
But it is interesting to see how far they went to make this real.
The site was: We Are Saved Group.
Videos are found on the right.
Dante's Inferno - Wrath of the Journalist.
Sins of the Press.
Following their marketing Campaign, EA had been very creative with the Press Kit's they have sent out. Few (as far as I know) reflecting certain Sins, with one Sin having a variety. This was the biggest difference between other Press Kits, is that this one not only contained the game, but some went to great lengths of showcase, without a game (in the given Sin Boxes, but separately).
Ones I have discovered are (ignoring Lust as that was redeemed by Comic-Con):
With Greed, there were 3 versions of the Sin Box. One containing a plaster, severed hand, clasping Gold Coins.
With the inscription: "A hand that clutches gold cannot reach fourth to help his fellow man."
Another (using the term 'Avarice'), was a Check. Sent out to certain Press members, was worth 200$. With the Caption: "This check is as real as the consequences that follow."
The other, Anger, was an interesting one. It was a crate like box that was shipped with a Hammer and Goggles. Once you open the crate, a song (Never Gonna Give You Up, by Rick Astley) played with no source to stop it. Effectively 'Rick Rolling' those who received the package.
The point was the box had to be destroyed to get the song to stop. When it is destroyed, there was a note in the bottom stating that 'You are Guilty of the sin: Wrath'. Which is pretty effective.
There were no photos of this but a video exists.
Dante's Inferno Animated Movie Trailer.
This section will be different, as it has nothing to do with the Marketing of the game, rather expanding on it using other Media. In this case, the Novelized version (the game based form) of Dante's inferno, a comic adaptation, as well as an animated movie. Each Circle of Hell done by a different director and animation studio (I.E. Animatrix).
So aimed at existing fans, the content came about for the sheer entertainment. The Book containing a 16 page art insert (no scans as of yet), and the movie being the basic case/disk. Nothing really special. Biggest thing with the movie was with a basic, cardboard sleeve, there were a few different cover art pieces. So you could have gotten 1 of several different makes of the cover.
Comic was a 6 part series (not including an issue #0 given away at certain events) that covered the same progress of the story.
Anything else, the actual website contained descriptions of each circle of Hell, some voice over work found in-game, a Dante's Inferno Fan Kit (which was mainly some artwork and font) and some demos, spoken works of each circle of Hell, of Dante Alighieri's life (condensed) and a summery of Purgetoio and Paradiso.
360Zine, had done a 2 part PDF magazine covering the contents of Dante's Inferno, even throwing in a Downloadable Screensaver.
Magazine available here:
So among the Marketing, both digital and in-life and the official website (including both book and movie), Dante's Inferno had a Hell of a ride. Something many publishers will not do due to the amount of cash involved. But this was cleaver on their part and a good base due to the game.
Then comes the game itself. Having 2 distinctive versions (U.S. had the Divine Edition and U.K. had the Death Edition), with little varying, contained a soundtrack (U.S. was on disk and not CD readable, U.K. had a second disk that was only samples). Digital version of the Divine Comedy (readable in-game), digital art-book, development diaries, downloadable content voucher, with the U.K. getting a lithograph. If you reserved it in the U.S. you would have gotten a Dante figurine.
All in all, quite the cache for such a grown catch.
Stay tuned, the digital goods will be available soon.