Two weeks ago we reported on the possiblity of an ARG centered around an upcoming football console game entitled “Blitz: The League“. Sadly, after watching the site since then, I just don’t think there is an ARG there. In fact, I don’t even know if there is any real marketing here. It’s like they couldn’t settle on a concept, and that bothers me. Whether this was to be an ARG, or simply an alternate reality without any intent of a game at all, it doesn’t live up to the vaulted standards that modern marketers must abide by, if not exceed, these days. It’s kind of sad, because this looks like it could be something fun, if done properly.
You see, in light of sole licensing rights for NFL video games being awarded to EA Sports and the much touted Madden franchise, Midway‘s Blitz League takes its “extreme”, “in-your-face” attitude and makes up an entirely fictional league with fictional players and even a fictional commissioner. They’ve got a scandal angle at easily-discovered reddogdown.com. They’ve got the comedy angle covered with a focus on a waterboy. Heck, they even have a hidden puzzle to solve. They went so far as to create an elaborate “alternate reality” in their league history section, and many people took that as a positive sign and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, so far the best is not that good at all. The truth is, there’s bad marketing afoot. The game may be fine and playable, but there’s no excuse for marketing like this. There are at least eight distinct things going on in this endeavor, and none of them really interrelate well. Not one of the various angles seems to have been thought out before the game designers (or marketing team, if that is the case) decided to toss out a heap of possibilities that probably won’t come to fruition. I would be very surprised if we see, in the future, any substantial development of this game.
This is a shame, because there are some things in here that could be used to create a really imaginative and creative site. The writing is decent, and obviously they had at least a small advertising budget (as there was voice work, and content created just for the site). What it needs is a more honest attempt at creating, promoting, and selling this world to its players. Whatever it’s trying to be, it just… isn’t. From what I can see, it is a malformed and non-functional idea, a conglomerate of half-baked ideas.
These are my thoughts, not because it’s not what I want in an ARG, but in terms of quality of production, and cohesiveness of concept, I find it to be an utter failure. This isn’t about personal reasons — my feelings are full of bigger, nastier words for this type of advertising. I just don’t see why anyone would throw half-made ideas at the general public, through whatever media they choose, and expect their entertainment-savvy, advertising-aware audience to eat it up like candy.
If I were going to create a webspace to promote a product, and attempt to do so in an entertaining way, then my first priority would be to ensure that it actually entertains. While it can be argued that this site may do this in a small fashion, for a short period of time, it fails to capture me, a card-carrying member of the spending generation that they are expecting to buy this game. I am the target demographic — the 20 something who knows about video games, knows a fun product when he sees it, and has the capital to make an impulsive purchase on the order of $40-$50, based on the fact that a website was entertaining enough for him to be interested in the product.
With that said, the simple fact is this: people like me would not be motivated, in the least, to buy “Blitz: The League” after being exposed to this campaign. While the game may go on to sell copy upon copy on its own merit, this site does not add anything to the world Midway is attempting to create.