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BioWare's Zeschuk Talks  Dragon Age  Marketing Choice
BioWare's Zeschuk Talks Dragon Age Marketing Choice
April 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

April 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

BioWare's Greg Zeschuk is aware of the discussion around Dragon Age's curious advertising campaign, which many felt presented the game as an action drama rather than the much more slowly-paced RPG experience it actually is.

The high-contrast, dramatic ads were heavy on the blood spatter, as if to attract a different kind of consumer than would usually enjoy Western RPGs -- and to an extent, that was the intention, Zeschuk tells us as part of a new Gamasutra feature.

"It's interesting to me obviously because of the controversy with it," says Zeschuk of the ad campaign. "I think we were trying -- and we've always said... the real objective for us [was] to show what was in the game."

But he concedes: "Obviously, the advertising wasn't in any way representative of the proportionate time split. Everything from the advertising was from the game, but it was only part of the time. There's a lot of other stuff."

However, it attracted a lot of attention and was effective in that respect, he says. "It got people really looking at the title. I think it probably expanded the audience a little bit into people -- it's one of the hits of the fall, and it's one of the big games -- and they're like, 'Okay, well, it looks action-y enough that I'm interested in it,' and I think that was actually the reason that it worked."

New audiences might have a harder time understanding the tone of the game or being drawn to its more complex elements without the hand-holding presentation, Zeschuk agrees.

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Joshua Sterns
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Personally I would have liked more cut scenes with the same graphical presentation as the ads.

Josh Jones
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I agree

Chris Melby
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LOL Josh, I read what you wrote earlier on my Touch and it's still there on its tiny screen. :D

Cutscenes of that calibre would have been great, but to state the obvious, then it would have eliminated the part where we see our characters in the mix.

I figured they were targeting console-only-guys with their commercials. I personally bought the game, because it was Bioware, and because it was a PC game first, not an afterthought. So I had already been fallowing the game's development online, so there were no surprises in how it played -- just how hard it was on nightmare(Which was awesome!).

JS Dreyer
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As a long time Bioware RPG player, the ads turned me off to the point that I still haven't picked up Dragon Age yet. It gave me the impression that it was all action and cinematics, and no story. I thought the game had gone "God Of War" to appeal to the action gamer set. After reading some reviews, I realized that the game still had all those traditional Bioware elements, but I wonder how many core gamers like myself were turned off by the campaign.

Jonathan Osment
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I believe this was a good way to get normally non-rpg players interested in other genres. That need to happen by the way, or else the casual player and fps image saturated action kids (and adults) will continue to demand that genre's adapt to FPS rather than the challenges associated with other genre's, such as the RPG. Take Mass effect 1 and 2 for example. The sequel didnt get them to adapt to the RPG but catered to the larger market by removing many of the RPG elements and challenges which are important for the genre, including micro-management.

Andy Ross
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I can't say I really liked the marketing treatment Dragon Age received in any particular way. I haven't bought Dragon Age despite being a big Bioware RPG fan because Manson, gore and breasts aren't reasons why I buy RPGs. I also don't see why presenting the game as such is anything other that lying or at least bending the truth. How is that any way to treat your (potential) audience?

I know people who are in the same boat as myself and other Bio fans such as JS Dreyer above, along with annoyed, disappointed people who bought the game thinking it was going to be a fast-action gorefest as it was presented.

I agree that it's great that games with the same depth as traditional RPGs can do well on console, but is it necessary to distort the truth in order to get people to take the plunge?

Luke Skywalker
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I find it amazing that people that read Gamasutra articles wouldn't buy a title based on inferences made from a commercial (despite all of the previews, status updates, interviews, etc, proving it to be an RPG and the spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate). A COMMERCIAL. Really? Do you buy books based on their cover art too?

Christopher Wragg
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Besides, it's been done many times before in many a game. Usually pre-rendered cinematic advertisements are unrealistic representations of the content present within a game, both graphically and gameplay wise. Mass effect suffers the same issue, the cinematics action is much faster than the game which is often paused to select abilities, position team mates, and switch weapons.

Additionally, most people who watch the first trailer, will watch the others (or at least one or two more), in dragon ages case there were trailers for each race and class combination, for the dlc, and a few extra to boot, that were true to both graphics and represented more of the RPG aspect of the game. A person who consumes a "single" piece of marketing and then impulse purchases a game should not complain about it not being what he expected, he barely had time to form an expectation in the first place, and should recognize the risk in his purchase.