Batman: Arkham City: When Marketing is Ruining Your Game
The Joker makes a return, along with voice actor Mark Hamill. But he’s not your primary villain: Hugo Strange is.
And Mr. Freeze is there. And The Riddler, who won’t just be an annoying prankster talking to you by phone this time, either. Plus there’s Catwoman. And she’ll be a playable character. Robin’s coming too, as playable DLC. And Nightwing.
Oh, and you know what happens to the Joker? He [RE-GODDAMN-DACTED].
Sorry. I’m stepping in where Rocksteady and Warner Bros. should, because obviously the company doesn’t know how to keep its mouth shut or play its cards close to the chest for its upcoming sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. It seems like every few days, another detail spills out from the game disc to populate the Internet, and once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.
What’s painful is that nothing about Arkham City’s continual information overload is enticing. The campaign of knowledge actually turned hard toward spoiler some time ago. And that was before Kotaku’s frustratingly huge douchey headline about the game’s plot, assaulting players before they could make any choice if they want to know it or not. But as more and more and more and more details about the game come out, it feels like the game is being bled to death long before its release, in order to ensure that anyone who has ever even heard of Batman will find something to draw them in.
Look, I very much appreciate the way Rocksteady handles Batman, and more specifically, Batman villains. The developer and Warner Bros. should be proud that even the goofy ones are sinister and that all the characters are well-built. I can understand being excited to show off their version of The Penguin and other details about the game.
Some details are good, but exercise some restraint, guys. Please. Seriously.
It’s a case of marketing a game to death at this point. What do I have to look forward to if I’ve seen this Mr. Freeze trailer, this Joker trailer, this Catwoman trailer, read that Kotaku story (I couldn’t control my curiosity), and have been bombarded by the rest of the screenshots, Tweets, news stories and pre-order bonuses out there? What surprises are left to me? Without the fiction of Batman playing out in Arkham City, I’m afraid what I’ll be left with is a great many hours of punching dudes in the face. Not without its rewards, but not the experience I had with Arkham Asylum and certainly not the one I want to pay for with Arkham City.
Where did this idea that games need insane, long-reaching, years-running marketing campaigns come from, anyway? Consider the case of Hard Reset. The game released in late September. When did the marketing start? June 30.
And it was artfully executed, as well. Hard Reset’s developer, Flying Wild Hog, released a single screenshot for the game. It didn’t even say what the hell was in it (turned out to be an evil robot) or what game it was for. Then, a week or two later, it released a trailer, a release date, and a few details — an old-school first-person shooter, PC exclusive, great-looking graphics, and a month to wait on it.
Hard Reset got a lot of people excited, especially when they realized it was on the brink of release. It didn’t need a ton of details to sell it. And really, neither does Arkham City — we know it’ll be great. Any one of the trailers would be enough to entice just about anybody to pick the title up. But as it stands, we’ve been hearing about the title for like 10 years. I can name six villains you’ll encounter off the top of my head.
I’m Batman-saturated. I want to be excited for what I’ll discover in a game, not to just act out what I know will already be on-hand. I want Batman to be my puppet in my Arkham City experience. I don’t want to know the steps before I walk them.
So please, Rocksteady, Warner Bros., whoever’s making the decisions — if you have more to “reveal” about Arkham City before it comes out, don’t. I already want to give you my $60; don’t make me rethink it.
Next thing we’ll be fighting this guy: The Calculator.
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.
The Bat is back — check out our huge text and video walkthrough for Batman: Arkham City.