Rise of Nightmares horde of zombie trailers


I haven’t played Rise of Nightmares. I’ll say it up front. I still don’t have an Xbox360 yet, let alone the Kinect accessory for it at this point. But I admire the project, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed by it overall.

I have no idea what Sega’s budget on this game was. But they were pouring it on with video creation, and they took a different angle in on the whole concept. Yes, it still had zombie-flaying weaponry, splashes of something red & goopy, and other standard zombie fare, but it had SO much more.

I talked about the initial Rise of Nightmares E3 trailer several months ago. The idea was you found yourself trapped, hostage to a madman, who clearly was about to perform all sorts of experimental surgery & beyond on your as-yet-still living body. That’s already different than most zombie games & movies.

About a week or so later, we are treated to the Welcome to the Nightmare video. This one introduces us to who you’re trying to save, why, and a good long glimpse of what is happening around you. Creepy doesn’t begin to describe the environment.

Then about a month or so later, we’re treated to a video that simply defies zombie killing standards. Titled “Red Band Trailer” for its gore and over the top bloodshed, Sega brings in a tactic that is quite simply not seen in the genre. All zombie games & movies are either funny, gross, or both. This one definitely put the emphasis on funny, but in a slapstick way I really haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, this video didn’t get as many views as the others. Perhaps the tactic – while it stood out against the crushing noise of other game trailers – backfired a bit? Here it is.

Now this one hit me pretty hard. I remember seeing it on TV the first time around. Usually in a zombie movie, grandpa or grandma usually buys it in some funky way in the movie, and sometimes in games. They’re usually tough old geezers, and they usually go down fighting, sacrificing themselves for the group. This isn’t that granny, she’s ornery, and I doubt she’d be tolerating idiotic scared teenager habits in zombie movies. Granny Got Censored is the title here. And she’s got a case of potty-mouth that leaves her grandkids terribly awkward & speechless. The video also introduces another uncommon element – the undead spokesman. In my opinion, everything was doing great until he started talking. It got worse at the end, when the spokesman tries to be clever.

This next one was just plain awesome. Titled Rise of Nightmares, European Vacation, this little ditty weighs in at just a little longer than the others. But the whole video is set to 1950’s-60’s-70’s style live band music. It’s like a scene from a bad sitcom, but it REALLY works well. You get to see even more of what is happening around you – the people, the places, the things you’re dealing with. It’s all very macabre while being touchy-feely-feel-good. I can’t place the music

A couple weeks later, we get another episode of Mr Undead Spokesman. This one hit TV advertising, too, if I recall correctly. He appears again, waltzing into a couple’s family room, who are also awkwardly playing some lame game, like the grandkids before were. Aghast at the living dead in their house, the couple huddles in the background, the wife bravely defending hubby, who looks like he’s about to cry. These elements are very cool. And the idea of the zombie spokesperson is a decent one – it’s definitely different, and helped the game stand out. But in the end I don’t think it works.

Beginning September 2nd or so, the trailer called Controls hit. It is about the same length as the others, but really focuses on the gamer reaction to playing the game. Three guys are taped with their real world gesturing to fight the virtual zombies. The idea is interesting – illustrating what gamers think about games is almost always worthwhile. But something fell flat here.

The game hit shelves a few days later. I think the TV commercials were still going, if I remember correctly.

So what did we get here?

Seven trailers, typically with 90 second durations – with a couple vids coming in a little shy on time. But the difference in the impact was crystal clear. I’m only using the YouTube video download stats from Sega America’s own channel as the metric here, but there is a clear winner among them.

E3 trailer 10,480
Welcome to the Nightmare 10,254
Red Band Trailer 8,140
Granny Gets Censored 4,765
European Vacation 125,945
Undead Spokesman 17,544
Controls 8,132

European Vacation crushed the skulls of the other videos, and put them down for good. In fact, that one video snuffed the entire horde of other videos, combined. 125k to 59.3k – doubled. Usually marketers like to see a crescendo effect, hitting its zenith at launch, and increasing for a short time after that. Then usually things die down pretty fast afterward.

The crescendo hit its max roughly three weeks prior to ship. Maybe that worked, maybe it didn’t – in terms of sales. I don’t know. But I don’t believe the Euro Vacation was on TV, which would have been awesome. Even cut down to 30 seconds, it could still be done.

My point in this massive diatribe mini-rant is that Sega innovated. Not only with the development side on Kinect, bringing a mature game to the hardware that had been largely kiddie turf, but with the marketing. They *tried* very hard to do something no one else had done. Even Dead Rising 2 with its zaniness couldn’t hold a candle to the funky creative ideas the Sega marketing team brought to the table.

If I wore a hat, it’d be off to the Sega folks. They tried hard, came with new ideas, and executed pretty well. Keep those brain juices flowing, guys. All the zombies just love it when you do that.

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