Dead Island: Building a new IP

Deep Silver’s upcoming horror title Dead Island took the internet by storm with its February reveal, but what is the company doing to ensure the game will be a hit? MCV asks sales and marketing boss Paul Nicholls…

Any new IP must do something special to grab the attentions of consumers and the media.

Deep Silver’s Dead Island accomplished this with its much-discussed trailer back in February. The footage got the entire industry talking with its cinematic depiction of family being overwhelmed by zombies.The trailer, created by Axis Animation, has since won an award at the Cannes Festival of Creativity, and Deep Silver has racked up more than a few accolades of its own.At last month’s E3 Expo, Dead Island received various best of E3 awards from the media – proof that the title has lost no momentum since its reveal.

We had an absolutely fantastic reception from the media and show attendees,” says Deep Silver’s sales and marketing director Paul Nicholls. In our press room, every single session was jam packed with journalists and we wound up having to keep a waiting list to try and accommodate everyone.

In all, we were able to have almost 200 journalists get hands on time. Plus, Square Enix – our US distribution partner – had a playable demo of the game running in their booth on six stations and they were absolutely jam packed with queues of people waiting to play.”

An online study by even named Dead Island as one of the most visible products of E3, both at the show and in the coverage surrounding it. It was the only new IP to place in the Top 20.

So why, at a show dominated by the likes of Wii U, Vita, Call of Duty and Battlefield 3, was a relatively small title like Dead Island able to make such a big noise?

Well, based on the fan interest and excitement, we don’t see Dead Island as a small title necessarily” Nicholls says.The announcement and the launch trailer in February really helped us put Dead Island on the global map in terms of awareness. What it achieved in its first 48 hour was unprecedented and I’m sure we will be the benchmark for many major publishers, so that was a fantastic start for us.”

But the publisher knows hype needs to be sustained, and has been working hard to keep Dead Island in the minds of press and gamers. Last week, it held a UK preview event dedicated to the co-op mode, one of the game’s key selling points.

We can’t just rest on our laurels,” adds Nicholls. Ultimately, the game has to stand on its own. So we’ve been slowly pulling back the curtain to show people something beyond the subtle hints in the short, to reveal what the game is all about.

Since February, we’ve shown two rounds of gameplay and produced some extensive gameplay videos with our media partners so that people could get a glimpse of what the game is like. Had the features we’ve shown not met and possibly exceeded the fans’ hopes for their next favourite zombie game, I’m sure we would not be standing out among industry giants.”

Dead Island arrives for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and September 9th, and you can bet that Deep Silver will be pulling out all the stops to ensure the launch stands out.With plenty of media outlets and consumers heartily backing the title, Dead Island has the potential to be one of the biggest new IP launches of 2011.

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