Just as with its parent company Take-Two, there is significantly more to Rockstar than just Grand Theft Auto.
This year, the firm is set to outdo itself with the release of Red Dead Redemption, an open-world game that strives to capture the atmosphere of the Wild West.
Based on the same tech that powered GTA IV, the publisher has worked to deliver a title that is less of a game and more of a living, breathing world.
“Red Dead Redemption is our most ambitious game to date and our biggest release this year,” says Rockstar’s UK general manager Neil Stephen.
“The game has garnered an incredibly positive reception from the gaming and lifestyle press with many outlets placing Red Dead Redemption as a possible game of the year contender.
“This title is incredibly beautiful and on an unprecendented scale, it is populated with a staggering number of dynamic, contextual activities that you can take part in any time you wish along with a complex ecological system of animal life.
“This, combined with our most ambitious multiplayer offering to date, leaves us with very high expectations for what we think is our next blockbuster gaming franchise.”
WEST SIDE STORIES
Redemption puts players in the spur-equipped cowboy boots of an outlaw and allows them to explore a fictional region of the Wild West.
As with previous Rockstar titles, they can progress through a series of storylines given by key characters, or even newspapers and local gossip. The main missions range from taking out dangerous gangs of bandits to instigating a Mexican revolution.
Alternatively, they can simply explore the vast game world, earning a living by hunting, robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains, or taking part in events that dynamically generate around them, such as rustler attacks on innocent farmers.
“As game makers, our goal is to fulfil the players’ fantasies as much as possible and fortunately the concept of the old West comes loaded with so many images, moments, characters and a strong sense of legend attached to it,” Stephen says.
“This has been incredible source material to work with and has led to us creating an incredibly unique and exciting gaming experience filled with classic Western moments including stand offs, duels, stagecoach fights, gunfights on trains, hold-ups, bounty hunting and so on.”
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS
Rockstar has already begun marketing Red Dead to the masses (see ‘Rustlin’ up sales’) and is currently running an extensive pre-order campaign that focuses on the Limited Edition.
This SKU offers consumers exclusive in-game content and other extras, while alternative pre-order incentives are available through the publisher’s key retail partners.
These include in-game items such as Golden Guns, Deadly Assassin’s Outfit and the special War Horse.
“In terms of sales projections, we are aiming high and as such are focusing more attention on retail channels than ever before,” says Stephen.
“These plans have seen Red Dead Redemption start to fly up the pre-order charts and the strong base we build with pre-orders will hopefully translate into a big launch for the title.
“Once the game is released, we expect that word of mouth and our massive launch media campaign will propel the game to excellent sales.”
Red Dead Redemption moseys onto shelves on May 21st.
RUSTLIN' UP SALES
Red Dead Redemption will enjoy a comprehensive marketing campaign that is set to engage the widest possible audience…
– Extensive partnerships with IGN and GameSpot will use RDR-branded pages, competitions and homepage takeover to drive pre-orders. Additional pre-order advertising will run on other key gaming sites.
– Pre-roll trailers will appear on video-on-demand services 4OD, MSN Video Player and Sky Box Office, and a massive YouTube partnership will hit nine million users before launch day.
– Print ads will run in all major gaming magazines, as well as key lifestyle publications including FHM and Sport and cover wraps on Shortlist and The Guardian’s Film and Music section.
– Rockstar will run its first cinema advertising campaign, with trailers appearing before Robin Hood, Iron Man 2 and Prince Of Persia. There will also be cinema foyer posters that will allow consumers to download exclusive content via Bluetooth.
– The publisher has invested in its biggest ever pre-launch TV spend, including ad spots around the Champions League finals and FA Cup final. RDR will also sponsor the terrestrial premiere of 3:10 to Yuma on Channel Five and The Proposition on Film4 with a mixture of 30- and 60-second TV spots.
– A three-week TV campaign will follow the game’s release, with ads appearing around key programming on terrestrial and satellite channels.
– A two-week London Underground campaign will see cross track 48 sheets and illuminated 12 sheets put up in a wide range of station corridors and on platforms.
– A partnership with Xbox Live will give 360 owners the chance to win a free movie download, exclusive Xbox Live themes and Avatar clothing.
– A similar deal with LoveFilm will give consumers another chance to win a free movie download. This will be promoted with RDR-branded envelopes.