With so many sequels coming out year after year, you’d think that creating the second or third game in a series was taking the easy way out compared to making a whole new intellectual property. Developing and marketing BioShock 2 had to be a whole lot easier than the original, right?
According to 2K marketing executives Matt Gorman and Tom Bass, that’s not necessarily true.
According to the men, there are marketing challenges unique to releasing a sequel. Different strategies must be taken to convince both returning and new players to buy the new product.
Bass explains, “One of the main things that was ‘a blessing and a curse’ was BioShock 1. You had many scores that were 100 and you had a lot of people who felt it was a contained, finite experience. So you had hardcore fans that weren’t convinced that they needed a sequel and here we were two years later with BioShock 2.”
“There were also people that never got on board and it was a challenge to detail to them they don’t have to play the first to enjoy the second.”
To that end, 2K ran campaigns for both the hardcore and non-fan audiences “with the understanding that the same message would not work for everyone.”
Bass continues, “For those that didn’t play the first, we had a 3:30 trailer that debuted on GameTrailers TV. We started our TV spots two months before the game came out, which is unconventional. We also had the machinima stuff with GameStop, and the launch trailer. In-store was also very important for the casual gamer; we had huge displays on the outside of GameStop stores.”
“If you were at retail during the month of release, you knew BioShock 2 was out.”
And so they did; the sequel debuted at the top of both the UK and US sales charts as it released in February.