Most major games arrive in the UK with a bang: often a star-studded launch party, some form of high-profile PR stunt and a slew of midnight openings.
But while such launches are often a much more muted affair in other territories, there are some publishers trying to bring the spectacle of the West to every corner of the globe.
Ubisoft demonstrated this in October with the arrival of Assassin’s Creed III. The effort that went into the UK launch was echoed – and even exceeded – across Europe, Africa and Asia, thanks to the publisher’s EMEA export team.
A combination of costume parties, record-breaking midnight launches and archery lessons made the game a landmark title for Ubisoft – and an interesting look at how gaming is celebrated in other countries.
“Assassin’s Creed III is a huge title for the Ubisoft Export business and it was always set to be our biggest release to date,” said Dan Gardener, marketing and PR manager for Ubisoft EMEA Export markets. “In fact, our day one shipment was a 40 per cent increase on last year’s Revelations.
“Assassin’s Creed III is our baby and we wanted to treat it well and buy it the best toys possible.”
Back in September, Ubisoft told MCV that it was spending a record £4m on marketing the newest Assassin’s Creed, and the publisher’s export team puts similar effort into promoting the game overseas.
“The marketing for this title reflected that and it’s our biggest spend for a single title within the export business to date and our partners in each territory have done an outstanding job,” said Gardener.
“We’ve been able to achieve a record number of TV campaigns in various territories along with some of the best in-store promotions, placements and pre-order initiatives and this doesn’t stop at Assassin’s Creed III.
“We have many awesome releases on the horizon that offer great scope for some more creative and qualitative campaigns.”
MAKING A KILLING AROUND THE GLOBE
The retail landscape in India is changing, with more and more specialists emerging from a land that previously had little dedicated support for console games.
Assassin’s Creed III marked a further change in the way titles are launched in the country: it was the first video game to prompt midnight openings from multiple games retailers.
Growing specialists such as Games The Shop, Landmark, Origin Games, Intencity and FOG all opened their doors in the middle of the night, with hundreds of Creed fans queuing to get their hands on Connor’s adventure.
The launches in Mumbai and Delhi were actually covered by local broadcaster Prime Television News Channel.
Assassin’s Creed III arrived on October 31st, so Ubisoft’s export teams arranged a special Halloween party at the Buddha-Bar in Hungary.
Roughly 400 guests attended and dozens were dressed in period costumes based on Assassin’s Creed III’s setting. The guest of honour was Hungary’s Olympic champion gymnast Krisztian Berki, who won gold in the Men's Pommel Horse during London 2012.
There were costume competitions and other contests, as well as demos of the game. Ubisoft even put on a demonstration of parkour with a man dressed as Connor.
The event garnered widespread coverage in the Hungarian press, including Ubisoft’s event partner Funzine Magazine.
Ubisoft’s local development studio helped arrange a midnight opening at a key Romanian electronics retailer.
The launch event attracted around 400 consumers – one of the largest turnouts for any event of this nature in the region.
Assassin’s Creed III achieved the second biggest launch Israel has seen in recent years – second only to the launch of Diablo III earlier this year.
Hype was mostly driven by a heavyweight cinema campaign, with trailers running across a total of 90 screens, including two of the country’s biggest cinemas.
In the first two days on sale, Assassin’s Creed III sold three times as many copies as AC: Revelations did in its first two days.
Projections suggest that it will be one of the Top Five best-selling games of the year, and one of the most successful title in its genre in the past few years.
Rather than focusing on midnight launches at retail, Ubisoft's export teams arranged something a little different.
Members of the South African press were invited to a unique event that gave them a chance to experience the action seen in the game.
In addition to playable demos of Assassin’s Creed III, journalists were able to try their hand at some hunting in the woods.
They were also instructed in archery and challenged to ‘assassinate’ key characters from the game.