Irrational’s Ken Levine feel the amount of publicity games receive compared to other mediums is still relatively small. Speaking with Penny Arcade Report, Levine said its important for the general public to understand what the game is about before asking them to spend $60.
“Compare how games are marketed versus movies. Look at the Hunger Games, a big movie,” said Levine. “And BioShock Infinite, a big game release. Or Call of Duty, look at the extreme examples. How many impressions do you think a Hunger Games gets on the average person versus Call of Duty? How many opportunities are there to tell people about this cool thing?
“We’re not covered in the New York Times in a major way, the way a movie would be. We’re not on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. People overestimate how exposed games are, in comparison to other forms of media. There are maybe a million hardcore games, and Call of Duty is going to sell 25 million copies. You either find ways to reach the other [24 million] in ways you can’t normally, or repeat the imagery enough that when they go to IGN they might come across it.
“We’re asking them to spend a lot of money: $60. That’s a lot of money. It’s our responsibility to give them the information they need to make the purchasing decision. But at the end of the day, the last person you should listening to about making a buying decision about BioShock Infinite is Ken Levine. I’m biased.”
That being said, Levine is of the opinion it’s a balancing act regarding when and how much to market a game. If he had been in charge of the PR for BioShock Infinite, he would have waited until later on in development before announcing it, so as not to overexpose the title for months on end before release; however, with the threat of an inevitable leak looming, it was decided that the go button had to be pushed.
“We probably would have announced it later, but we were worried about it leaking,” he said. “We had a nice unintentional head fake, everyone thought we were working on this X-Com game, but we weren’t. It wasn’t what people expected. Without our presentation, people would have gotten the wrong message about [BioShock Infinite], it would have been confusing.”
“I would have announced it significantly later if I wasn’t worried about that,” Levine added. “We had this external factor.”