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FOCUS: Split/Second

Ben Parfitt
FOCUS: Split/Second

Split/Second: Velocity is a major release for Disney.
It is well on-course to be the publisher’s most successful original gaming IP to-date. Not only is it a spectacular looking game, but the early response from the critics have been overwhelmingly positive, with many suggesting the game could be the kick in the tyres the racing genre desperately needed.

“It’s a fantastic game from an incredibly talented studio, and we hope that people will enjoy playing it as much as we do,” says head of marketing for UK and Ireland Keely Brenner

“Right from when the product was first green-lit, Disney and Black Rock set out to ensure that Split/Second would bring something ground-breaking to the racing genre, whether this be the introduction of a unique back-of-car HUD or the blockbuster movie style action sequences triggered in the power-plays.”

THINKING CREATIVELY

Innovation has been key to Disney’s games strategy. Upcoming titles such as Epic Mickey are unique, while even the firm’s movie licences – such as Toy Story 3 – are filled with inventive ideas.

Split/Second: Velocity is no different. From unique ‘power-plays’, where gamers can collapse bridges or topple towers with a simple press of a button, to a clever on-screen display that could influence how racing games are made in the future. And it is this innovation that has helped inspire the game’s marketers.

“We have mirrored this innovative approach in our marketing for two key reasons, firstly the game is visually stunning, so we have gone for high impact formats across the board to best show this off, from web takeovers to hi-def cinema ads, and secondly because we want to ensure our marketing stands-out from the competition,” adds Brenner.

“One such example of the creativity is the video mash-up application whereby you can create your own Split/Second race sequence online using sections of game footage, and enter it into a competition. The winner is given the chance to go into an edit suite and actually have their final movie used for a UK TV ad spot.

“There’s been comments recently that the racing genre needs shaking up and our advertising shows how Split/Second has done this.”

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

Split/Second’s attractive visuals have made the game ideal for TV advertising, and Disney has been creative in this space, too. Along with the aforementioned create-an-add competition, the publisher has produced editorial-style spots for MTV. In these ads an actual MTV presenter is on-screen as if they’re reporting directly from the Split/Second set itself.

But it’s not just been about showing off the pretty graphics, with Disney wheeling the latest code around to some of the UK’s biggest events in a bid to get the game into consumer hands.

“This has always been a priority for us,” continues Brenner.

“We had confidence in the product from the outset and felt the best way to form an opinion is to play it, hence the presence at events like the Eurogamer Expo, the Gadget Show Live and the Modified Nationals show later this month.

“This also demonstrates the wide audience that we are able to reach – Eurogamer was primarily core gamers, the Gadget Show live was a family and tech savvy audience, and the Modified nationals are older male car enthusiasts.”

Reaching out to a wider audience has been one of the key challenges for Split/Second. The game’s plaudits will have been noticed by the core gamer, but to reach a mainstream audience the firm has adopted multiple measures – including signing England footballer Shaun Wright-Phillips as the game’s ambassador.

“Celebrity endorsements can help raise awareness, but you only see the true benefit when genuine relevance exists,” adds Brenner.

“Wright-Phillips was an excellent choice for us, not only because it allows us to engage with the millions following the World Cup, but Shaun himself is a gamer, and was incredibly enthusiastic about being involved.”

SECOND NATURE

Split/Second: Velocity has some stiff competition in the racing genre. This year alone there’s a plethora of big name racers, from Need for Speed to Gran Turismo, plus new IP such as Blur.

But Disney no longer sees itself as a small player in games. Even in competitive genres, Disney is confident it can beat its bigger rivals. And with such high production values, innovative gameplay and creative marketing, there’s every reason to believe they could do it.

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