Thoughts on Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Play this track while reading this blog, you will enjoy it more!

This is a game where everything clicks – except the sales so far. 244k units in the US according to NPD in five days. That’s all platforms combined and I doubt PC digital sales were much. Sure, the game was number one, but 244k for a game as good as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the amount of coverage and marketing that Square Enix / Eidos has done for the game…it should have been 244k on Xbox 360 alone. That just tells you how stale the sales are in the industry and that is really worrying.

Sure, that’s five days sales, but most of the sales happen in a few days. Though at least with this game I think the word of mouth can do wonders. The publisher has stated 2 million sold, well that’s whats in the channel and I’m sure 1.5 million is around the game’s break even. I hope the game does great, but I also understand that’s it’s far too complex and clunky for the casual players out there who can barely complete Call of Duty on Easy. That out of about 45+ million US Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners only a small percentage bought this game…damn.

I haven’t seen how the advertising has been in the US  or rest of Europe. I haven’t seen tv ad’s, but I’m sure there’ some at least. At least in terms of promoting the game, Human Revolution is a case study in how to do it right.

1. First of all the game is superb. The product has to be awesome, that’s the base you build on. Human Revolution was developed over four years and while you can see that some early choices were made on the technology that limited the game a bit later on, this still an state of the art game in terms of technology especially on consoles.

2. The PR build up was superb for once. Only the first few hours of the game were ever shown a few months before it launched and that was enough. Only about two and a half months prior to launch key media got a 4 level preview.

As is norm, what was shown, was very tightly controlled, but in very early 2011 Square Enix gave hands on with the first 90 minutes of the game. Those previews really kick-started the hype and up to that point, no one was sure how this one was going to turn out. The game had been demoed in 2010 by the developers and the game looked promising then, but getting your hands on it, confirmed that this one is going to be special.

3. Everything in the preview build was so polished, it was pretty much the finished product. Everything convinced – the art direction, the amount of choice you had and the music was absolutely amazing. I remember playing the preview in Stockholm and I really felt amazed by the game and so positively surprised. I really didnt follow the development very closely up to that point, but I became a total believer when I completed the preview code. Right there and then I said to PR that’d we’d do a review cover on this game, that’s how much I believed in it after the preview. I was sure it was going to be an nine if that level of quality was maintained.

That’s how you get get great PR and visibility from the games media – deliver a great product and give access to the code and the developers. Of course, you need a superb game and also, developers who can fucking talk about the game and their vision and not be scared about what to say. The main Eidos Montreal crew could all talk good game!

4. Everything surrounding the game has been good too. That means great art assets: let me side-track here for a moment. I cant begin to state how important great assets are.

This game had about 5-7 superb cover artworks that we could choose from and lockdown. Usually, you have a single (hello Epic) cover image and it’s rubbish (hello Epic, Valve, BioWare). Not here, all the artwork was well thought out in terms of how it can fit on a magazine’s cover in terms of the logo and text. Plus, the cover imagery was striking and really resonated, it had the message of Deus Ex and stayed true to the game’s vision, while presenting something that could also sell magazines.

The trailers were superb, then there was/is a good website, stylish ad’s and all the marketing from the t-shirts to the superb Humanity-book just shows that Square Enix / Eidos held the brand in high regard and didnt go cheap. I’m amazed at just how much style there has been in the PR build up and marketing. It would be so easy to dimiss something like the Humanity book as too expensive, but it’s something that really helps to sell the idea of Deus Ex and very few publishers put money into things like that. Even the merchandise, that so often is rubbish, is awesome. The Deus Ex: Human Revolution promo shirt looks great and is of great quality and the merchandise on sale like the leather jacket is expensive, but high quality. That’s the way it should be, true fans will buy it and get great quality, so no point in making rubbish.

Just look at the Deus Ex Human Revolution art exhibit which had my man Estevan Oriol doing his thing amongst others. That’s amazing that money is put into such great marketing that isn’t just about sales but about the overall experience and creating a brand. Check it here. So, so rarely is there money for this and even more rarely, such good ideas come to fruition. Whoever the brand manager is on this game, they did an awesome job.

5. Everything came together. It’s all about the details and with so many facets to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, what is amazing is that everything came together from a superlative game to great marketing visuals to well thought out Pre-order campaign.

I’m on my second playthrough of the game getting some Trophies, but I’m gonna miss out on the fucking collect all 29 XP books, not killing anyone and not raising alarms. That’s just impossible. Cant wait for the DLC, though that always tends to be disappointing as once you’ve completed a game…you’ve completed it. Its hard to go back.

    • heppu1
    • September 12th, 2011

    Great idea on the music!

  1. Why is there so few comments ?

  2. Nice blog Thomas!

    I gotta say, I have the game, but I don’t have the time to play it. Sad :/

  3. You doubt about the PC sales, but it was on the top sellers list on Steam for several weeks, and in other times had #1 place. I think everyone would be surprised if Valve would show how much games are sold through Steam.

    I knew that I’d buy the game, I was just thinking of waiting a few months, but then a friend said “You should buy it”, and I did, about a week after the release. Haven’t regretted the purchase, even though I had to pay the 50€ compared to ~20-30€ by waiting a while. And didn’t even search for the lowest price on the net, because Steam is so convenient.

    My wife just her second playthrough, and I’m still on my first. Our combined playtime shows a whopping 85 hours. I just can’t skip the computers, and neither can my wife. Everything needs to be hacked and searched.

    I wasn’t really hyped about the game, even after the screening of the “Making Of” documentary you showed. Too much action in the trailers for my taste.

    The word of mouth can really do wonders, especially in Finland, where we don’t see that many video game commercials. Reading magazines is also important, but even after the articles I read I still wasn’t so interested.

    You have a good blog, keep on writing! I’m sure more people read than comment?

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