The Marketing behind the release of Fallout 4

Fallout 4 was one of the most popular releases in the gaming industry in the past year. The focus on the marketing behind the game may be where a fair amount of Bethesda’s success comes from. Despite a very short marketing window, 1.2million PC users were playing it on day 1 of its release! Astounding isn’t it?! So what’s the secret behind their marketing success?

They maximised on anticipation with perfect timing:

Fallout 4 Timeline:

Game Website Live: June 3, 2015

E3 Announcement: June 14, 2015

Fallout Shelter Release for iOS: June 14, 2015

Fallout Shelter Release for Android: August 13, 2015

Pip-Boy Edition Release: mid-October, 2015

Development Finished: October 23, 2015

Fallout 4 Release Date: November 10, 2015

Simply look at the Fallout 4 release timeline to see the timed tactics Bethesda employed in announcing the game so late to its release as possible. In under 6 months, Bethesda kept it refreshing for fans by keeping them in the loop and not in suspense for too long; a mistake modern game developers seemingly continue to make.

The game website going live on June 3rd raised questions. Over a week later, the E3 announcement on June 14th grabbed audience’s attention, as fans thought they were receiving insights into the game itself, only to be surprised with the news of a new Fallout mobile app. This got the fan base excited about the upcoming game itself whilst keeping them occupied in finalising development and tweaking of the end product. Surprising your fan base by engaging them and occupying their time with related products maintains anticipation whilst allowing time to focus on ensuring the success of your product’s release.

The fixed release date Bethesda announced from the start encouraged fans to pre-order copies of the game or save money for when it is released. Smart move carried out in avoiding the unproductive period where most fans endlessly wait for the game to be released. It also helps that Fallout 4 didn’t experience any release date delays.

It’s also worth noting that there we no story leaks whatsoever. This is a massive surprise considering how big the game itself is. Perhaps this is testament to how good Bethesda’s staff are at keeping secrets. And this pays off for them. Simply put, the game remaining a mystery encourages fans to play and immerse themselves into the game without spoiling it for themselves by looking online for story secrets. So everyone buys the game and enters with a clean point of view that hasn’t been tarnished by online leaks, maintaining that constant level of excitement.

Unmatched utilisation of merchandising:

The Vault Boy is the hallmark of the Fallout franchise. Bethesda have constantly put this icon as a key image of the game which serves as part of the brand image and thus increases the amount of customers and members of the public that recognise the product.

Bethesda utilised merchandising by releasing special editions of the game as bundle packages that included the game, as well as fun bits of merchandise such as the vault boy bobblehead, t-shirts, guide books, related jewellery and wrist watches etc. They’ve achieved this by connecting with a variety of other firms to push these related items into the hands of the target customer. Clearly it’s worked, as upon release of the game, the vault boy bobbleheads were seemingly sold out in most places!

This emphasises how big the Fallout franchise really is. But not only is this just a cheeky marketing ploy to generate extra revenue, but the main purpose of this was to influence the hype of the game’s release that had increased over its announcement timeline. Those unaware of the game will have noticed it, maybe even bought a copy of it upon its release! All because die-hard fans have been wearing the tees and wrist watches, or reading the Fallout 4 guide at Starbucks. And you noticed it as a result. Keep momentum going while making money – that’s the beauty of this simple marketing strategy.

They won at being creative:

Bethesda turned the announcement of Fallout 4 into quite the PR stunt. They set up a Tinder profile for Vault Boy, where influence through the dating app allowed the game to connect with more people on the platform. Not only was this surprising, but it was somewhat humorous and obviously succeeded in grabbing attention through an unexpected venue.

What’s so special about that you say? Well it’s truly a different and clever approach. They stayed away from traditional use of Facebook and Twitter, and disrupted expectations by using Tinder as a platform for marketing – not at all what it is conventionally used for. Thus, they created new signals that fans will notice over the noise of the rest of the gaming industry.

Being interesting and creative is all it took for Bethesda to be disruptive. Fans deserve that small behind the scenes look at the development and creation of your product. Just remember to intrigue your fans, so that they’re never sleeping on you – they are paying attention believe it or not!

Such creativity creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency around Fallout 4, where releases in limited quantities creates customer needs that they don’t even know they have.

Overall, Bethesda nailed it, regardless of what fans think of the actual game or not, their approach to the marketing of the product across various platforms with a wide range of strategies, helped them smash sales targets.

Now think to yourself, if this was your brand, how would you keep it creative and exciting for your fans and followers?


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