A recently leaked article, supposedly posted to Microsoft’s internal news site, appears to verify the dreaded truth — Halo 3’s Iris “spiral marketing campaign” has come to its official end. The article, which was posted to the Unfiction forums with permission from the author, reveals the end date of August 16th, which coincides with the opening of Iris’ fifth and final server, or “episode”. It also details the campaign’s goals, achievements, challenges and failures. Undoubtedly, the primary point of dissension this article raises is the challenge undertaken to provide a “low-key, low budget campaign [which] does more with less, whetting the appetite of the blockbuster video game’s fanatical followers.”
The article reveals that Iris was developed by “more than 50 people from 20 Microsoft teams [who] contributed time, coding expertise, and industry contacts.” The attempt was ultimately to provide a grand marketing scheme incurring little cost while attaining “critical mass” — defined in the article as getting “interview requests from The Wall Street Journal”. “It’s about breaking out of the hardcore and getting into the mainstream,” said Aaron Elliott, online marketing manager for Xbox Global Marketing (also listed as one of the ‘founders’ of the Society of the Ancients, an in-game organization that appeared at the beginning, but was never heard from again).
Strictly speaking, given the resources used to produce the campaign and the costs (or lack thereof) incurred, Iris may be considered an impressive success. However, if one includes the overall sentiment of the demographic that was actually actively playing or following Iris, one might say that their reach had exceeded their grasp. They seem to have ignored (or miscalculated) an inherent factor in the kind of campaign they were hoping to produce – most players had expectations, whether misplaced or not, of another I Love Bees. That potential was lost, and while the production may have been impressive to some, it failed dramatically in achieving what could have been achieved quite easily.
As any gamer can tell you, game trailers are more than just an opportunity to feast your senses on the latest pre-recorded gameplay designed to tempt you into buying the game when it is finally released. For the keen-eyed gamer, hints of deeper game mythology can often be coaxed out of these trailers, adding to the overall experience of the game.
It was just this type of dedicated gamer who first noticed that there were strange things in the trailers for Lost Planet, a new Xbox 360 game designed by Capcom and scheduled for release in January. Those that watched the first trailers on the Xbox Live Marketplace saw “111” and “neovenusconstruction.com” flash toward the end, leading them to rush off in search of the next I Love Bees.
These intrepid explorers have been rewarded with the discovery of several slick-looking websites that all share the goal of colonizing new planets (including, in the future, EDN 3 – where Lost Planet is set). While the in-game sites seem to be setting up background stories at present, there are numerous hints that more is still to come, making this an ideal point to join the game. In fact, it has been hinted on the Capcom boards that players have all the information needed to advance the game, so things could start to happen very quickly if they can discover what clues they are missing. Maybe you could be the one to stumble upon that one little bit of information that can blow the game wide open, so what are you waiting for? Be a hero to gamers everywhere and discover the secret.
List of in-game sites: http://awiser.googlepages.com/home
Discussion at Unfiction: http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17446
Just in case you’ve been asleep for the last 24 hours, it was officially revealed yesterday that the OurColony quasi-Alternate Reality Game was a promotional lead up to the new Xbox 360, scheduled to hit the stores for the 2005 holiday season.
As the countdown timer on the OurColony site expired yesterday, the page changed to reveal a link to a video file, which began with a CG OurColony ant scurrying across the floor to stand at the foot of J. Allard, Corporate VP of Xbox, who proclaims, “You are The Colony. You’ve found your way to the center, and you’re in control. This experience revolves around you. Welcome….to Xbox 360.”