Atari's 'Ghostbuster' launch exceeds own expectations

Atari and DKC faced several challenges in launching "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" on June 16.

Campaign: “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” launch
PR Team: Atari (New York) and DKC (New York)
Time Frame: November 2008 – August 2009
Budget: $75,000 – $100,000

Atari and DKC faced several challenges in launching “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” on June 16.

“The game had been sold from one publisher to another, which could have created a perception of a quality problem,” explains Atari CEO Jim Wilson. “There's also a negative perception of movie-based games.”

Plus, the game is based on a 25-year-old movie franchise. Wilson adds that the timing of Atari's purchase left only six months to market the game.

“The objective is to sell as many units as possible… and we wanted to establish it as a high-quality, commercially viable [game] franchise,” Wilson says.

Strategy

Jeff Klein, MD at DKC, explains that excitement was waning in the gaming community by the time Atari acquired the game. Wilson says the strategy became to “stop talking about the game and let the game speak for itself.”

“When the movie came out, kids wanted to be a ghostbuster, but the technology wasn't there,” Klein says. “This game would allow that experience. We had to reengage the gaming community in a way that got back their fandom. We needed to show the game [quality], and we needed the gaming community embracing it.”

Interest and approval from gaming media and blogs would be leveraged to draw mainstream media interest. Klein notes a cover feature in The New York Times “Arts & Leisure” section helped mainstream momentum.

The launch date coincided with the release of a 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition Ghostbusters. Klein says the movie stars, including Dan Aykroyd, reunited for the first time to do the voices for the game. And Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, writers of the original movie, developed the video game script. The team would position it as a sequel to Ghostbusters II – one created expressly for video gamers.

Tactics

Top gaming and pop culture site IGN.com got an exclusive first review in exchange for consistent homepage placement throughout the campaign.

Every week to 10 days, gaming media and Web sites were given something new, including screenshots and video interviews with developers and talent.

A press event was held during New York Comic-Con. Klein says 75 to 80 media members played part of the game, gaining firsthand experience of its quality.

In April, Aykroyd held a roundtable discussion and one-on-one interviews in New York with top-tier mainstream media and select gaming reporters.

Results

Atari has sold more than a million copies to retailers, with more than 75% sell through. Media placements total 1,064 in outlets such as AP, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, PC World, and PC Gamer.

Wilson said he is “very pleased,” and expectations were exceeded.

Future

Atari will continue working with DKC. The team is currently promoting the 2010 launch of Star Trek Online, a “massive, multi-player online universe."

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