Gamers across the world are united today in their excitement for Fallout 4, the much-anticipated next installment in the classic game series by Bethesda. It has been five years since the last Fallout game hit the shelves, and seven years since the last one made by Bethesda Game Studios debuted. So far, reviews have been nothing but positive.
In an age in which game debuts often become big-time debacles (think Sim City, Halo: Master Chief Collection, Diablo 3, Grand Theft Auto V’s multiplayer and others), Bethesda managed to not only create a hype machine, but also deliver on fan expectations. A lot of that has to do with the marketing campaign the company put together.
Here are a few elements of what made Bethesda’s Fallout 4 marketing campaign and subsequent launch such a success:
- The timing of the announcement: Games today are often announced a year and a half ahead of their launch to help build anticipation long in advance. However, for games with big-time hype behind them, that only gives diehard fans more time to build up unrealistic expectations. Bethesda announced Fallout 4 merely five months ago at the 2015 E3 conference. Rather than giving plenty of time for the hype to snowball and grow out of control, the team waited until just months before the release—offering enough time for major anticipation, but not enough time for fans to grow tired of speculating about the game’s quality or storyline.
- The release of a polished product: Another benefit of a late announcement of the game was that fans could be sure Bethesda was releasing a truly finished, polished product. Although one wouldn’t think that should be an issue, gamers have been burned too many times recently. This game has been a work in progress for years, and Bethesda chose to wait to make the announcement until it was sure it had a product of which its team could be proud. That’s putting quality over the hype.
- The release of freebies for fans: The very day Bethesda made the Fallout 4 announcement at E3, it also dropped a new, free mobile game called Fallout Shelter for iPhone (with an Android version following later). Fans had no inkling this was coming, and it both developed brand loyalty for Bethesda and spurred excitement for the release of Fallout 4
Any business looking to market the release of a new product can learn from the strategies employed by Bethesda this year. It’s sure to go down as a case study in ultra-effective marketing.