Duke Nukem Forever. A game that’s been in development for twelve years plus. A game that was announced in 1997, and still has yet to see release. It’s name has become infamous to the gaming community for the changing of shipping dates, many a fuck-up with 3D Realms, and more than one lawsuit. However, this entry isn’t about the history behind Duke Nukem and the ‘Forever’ namesake. It’s about a crafty little piece of marketing from Gearbox software, and one that has again set the internet alight with the tiny chatter of gamers worldwide.
Now you have to understand, Duke Nukem Forever has literally taken forever to be released. This is a game that the majority of PC gamers over the age of twenty-three have been waiting years to play. Duke Nukem 3D was a brilliant tongue in cheek first person shooter, that connected with the right crowd, at the right time. Our hero was loud, abrasive, and chauvinistic but more importantly, he was absolutely unquestionably brilliant. He liked to chew gum, smoke cigars, and kick ass, and he was usually out of the first two so had to settle for the third.
Last year when Duke Nukem Forever was announced by Gearbox Software as actually being released, the world applauded. Randy Pitchford, the boss of Gearbox, spoke with pride and genuine excitement when he addressed the world and finally nailed a release date down on the world’s favourite piece of vaporware. I was excited. Gamers were excited. The world was (probably) excited. Websites were furiously posting articles about Duke Nukem Forever trying to soak up as much as they could. Customers with ten year old reservation slips were coming forward to see if their pre-orders would be accepted. Randy made it so. People wanted early access to the demo. Randy made it so. We were finally going to get to play the game we’d been waiting for. The date? May 3rd. May 6th for the more important international audience. Randy had made it so.
A few months have gone past, and we’ve seen the odd trailer, the odd screen shot, and the excitement has somewhat waned. As a marketer, you are presented with the question ‘how do you drum up excitement for your product before it’s release?’. You can release an awesome trailer if you go down Dead Island’s route, or you can approach the situation like you’ve got the biggest balls in the big boys club.
Seriously. Wow. It takes some balls to delay a game like this. It takes some king size balls to delay an already ten year overdue game. The thing is, I don’t actually think the game needed to be delayed. Maybe that’s the cynical advertising shmuck in me talking, but it makes sense. The best way to make fans talk about your game (be it good or bad), taking into context the fact that your game is easily one of the most delayed games of all time, is of course, to delay it again.
Even if the game did need to be delayed, Randy and Gearbox had no problem making a big laugh and hoo-hah about it. And quite rightly so. I watched that video with a grin on my face of a size that would offend the Cheshire Cat. I don’t mind that the game has been delayed another month, and I certainly don’t mind that Randy Pitchford make a brilliant little joke about it. In fact, I think it’s brilliant. I mean, what a video, and what a marketing tactic!
Well done Randy. In my eyes, you can do no wrong. Just don’t delay the Duke again. I can’t have my dreams crushed a third time.