How we launched a new genre-bending game in a crowded space with a fresh, bold battle cry.
In the endless Wall of Same that is the first-person shooter game world, having a new title like Battleborn that combines various genres isn’t enough. You need a message that resonates with every gamer or wannabe gamer, even if they’ve never heard of the franchise or know anything about the game. So, how do you make people care about a title they’ve never heard of, and a game structure unlike anything they’ve seen before?
Battleborn is ... complicated. It’s an FPS. It’s a MOBA. It’s an action adventure. There are pirates, samurai, soldiers, robots, birdmen and dagger-flicking mushrooms. It’s a game that arguably defies description, where you can play with 25 completely different heroes, all with very unique personalities, weapons and tactics. That struck us as our point of differentiation. Not that you can be a hero, but the kind of hero you can be. We needed to appeal to more than just the gamer in all of us, but our inner badass. That hidden ass-kicker that whispers in our ear. Whether you’re a stealthy assassin, a heavy artillery shredder, or something wholly new and different that leaves people in awe or envy, everyone’s got a badass inside them. And now with this game, you can let yours out to play.
Now we needed to do some heavy lifting and explain to our audience what this game was and what was in it for them. We needed a hard hitting, quick twitch, digestible format that would pique their interest.
That led to the invention of the Equations. From characters to plot to gameplay, we could explain anything about the game in about five words, as long as those words told an interesting enough story.
Beyond just saying what was in the game, we expressed what it could do for the audience. It’s about finding the fit in their lives, or perhaps pointing out the hole they didn’t know they needed filled. This led to the creation of an engaging social campaign, “For Those ...” that made the argument that no matter who or what you like, don't like, play, or feel, somewhere in this title there is a character or game mode that fits you.
Our message needed to work amidst the people who would spread it the furthest: gamers. With that in mind we hit up the campaign trail from E3 to GAMESCON and everywhere in between, making sure to communicate how Battleborn was made for the gamer inside all of us, no matter who the hell that gamer was. This involved posters, event social activations, and some UGC that really brought our audience face to face with the kind of badass they could be.
We wanted every touch point for the campaign to always point straight back to our north star of For Every Kind of Badass. That extended to our open beta program, where to really get some attention, we put out a sweepstakes prize unlike anything ever offered before. Anyone who signed up for the beta was entered in a drawing for the Most Amazing Badass Weekend ever. Our winners were flown to Vegas, put up in the Rain Man suite and treated to two straight days of skydiving, race car driving, steaks, booze, and tank driving. Yes, tank driving. Because that’s what a badass does. And we’d know.
Using a “Core, then More” philosophy to our media tactics, our campaign was now established, inner audience educated, so it was time to spread the word wider and let the rest of the world in an our title and message. We did that by sticking to our guns (and swords, rockets, axes, etc.) and telling a story with all the different ways you can play in Battleborn. Showing that any badass, anywhere, can truly bring it if you only have the stones to try.
We created a style guide, key art, tagline, strategic approach, social strategy, and hundreds of pieces of creative all orbiting the tightly wound insight of Battleborn being For Every Kind of Badass. Through our multi-media attack, we were able to increase word of mouth and awareness for this previously non-existent title. Despite serious competition during a busy launch window with much larger budgets, Battleborn won the week and opened in the number one spot across all three major platforms: PS4, XBOX1, and PC.