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Saints Row 4 publisher discusses “inherent challenges” of convincing people it was more than an expansion

Friday, 13 September 2013 09:57 GMT By Dave Cook

Saints Row 4 publisher Deep Silver faced a touch challenge when it acquired Volition’s IP from THQ. PR and marketing boss Aubrey Norris has shed new light on the enormity of the task, and just how it set about addressing the issue.

Speaking with [a]list Daily, Norris explained the task at hand, “There were inherent challenges with Saints Row IV when we picked it up – all the turmoil from THQ’s demise and uncertainty around what was going to happen with it. And then there was an expansion pack, Enter the Dominatrix, that THQ had announced before. There was a lot of confusion about whether or not Saints Row IV would be just an expansion pack, does it really justify a full price, does it really justify a full game?”

Regardless, Deep Silver liked what it saw in the Saints Row fanchise and before long the Saints Row 3 DLC ‘Enter The Dominatrix’ was re-announced as a fully fleshed-out game in its own right. The move came as a pleasant surprise to some, and a shallow cash-grab to others. Months later and the game launched to impressive sales and positive reviews almost across the entire board. Grasping success wasn’t easy, however.

Norris continued, “There is actually more content in Saints Row IV than there really has been in any other Saints Row game, but when you have an expansion that’s announced like that, and then sort of like difficult messaging where it sounds like THQ just took an expansion and decided to call it a game, you’re fighting against what has been done before, and you have to turn around that perception of what it is.

“To be fair THQ actually announced that they were working on another [Saints Row]. They said ok we’re working on this then shortly after that they said ok, we’re taking Enter the Dominatrix and making it into a full game, but they didn’t really announce what that was. That’s where the confusion stemmed from, and we could see that confusion kind of continuing.”

She added, “It’s something that you have to prove to people. It’s not something you can fix overnight. It takes time for people to see all of the stuff that you have. That requires laser focus to show people the scope of the game. We would show the game at a trade show, we’d take the mini-map and we’d unlock everything so people could see how many activities there were. We’d show the things that are new in the game, like superpowers, and really try to emphasize how different it was.”

In the end, Norris said that it took time, a lot of effort and simple, clear communication to both fans and press alike to reveal the true scale of Saints Row 4.

Did you enjoy the end product? Let us know below.

Via GI.biz.

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15 Comments

  1. Old MacDonald

    I spent 28 hours on the game according to Steam, so I don’t think it lacked content. Loved pretty much every bit of it.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. viralshag

    I haven’t finished the game yet because I’m generally useless like that but it’s a great game and imo was totally worth the money.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Zackslacky

    Good game. 17hrs 100%.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. SplatteredHouse

    I’m not getting this, until I finish The Third. Which I haven’t started yet. I loved the first two games, but 3, despite being bought and installed…I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of where they were going with it. I’m literally a few clicks from it, but then I go play something else. :/

    #4 1 year ago
  5. frostface

    I didn’t like it myself. It felt like being in God mode right from the start. You’re getting your ass kicked, jump into the air and fly away. Also didn’t feel the need to hijack cars, why would you when you can just run (or fly) faster than them. I can see how people loved the super hero abilities but for me they made the game boring and all the stuff that I really enjoyed in previous Saints Rows became redundant. It wasn’t a graphical leap either on Saints Row The Third. The whole game just felt like an extended expansion pack for me.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    I just don’t want to play a purple rehash of Prototype!
    I don’t go in for most of this superhero stuff. I have similar concerns/misgivings about its effect on the gameplay, as you. Throw the us pres in as a spritzer, and surely, the result is unappealing. I’m thinking I’ll be waiting for a sale/goty bundle.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Keivz

    They failed to convince me. I thought SRTT was a 9.0/10 and was really looking forward to a sequel. Without a new city though, I can’t shake the feeling of ‘expansion pack’, so I can’t justify getting it at full price. Perhaps I’ll play it once it’s in the bargain bin.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Rikki

    It did feel like an expansion… BUT WHO CARES! They changed enough and added enough new stuff to make it just as awesome. 23 hours played on my first playthough, got 100% and now working on my second playthough. And so far it’s the best game I’ve played this year, and one of the best games I’ve played this generation!

    #8 1 year ago
  9. TheWulf

    I liked Saints Row IV as a completely honest treatise of the history of video games, and an honest love letter to them without any of the pretentious arseholes we’re usually forced to endure in these sorts of games. The boss was admittedly a straight up sociopath, but at least that fits better than a billion games where you commit genocide, almost drive creatures to extinction, rob poor people, run over grandmas, and then you’re told in a sanctimonious way by some sycophantic companion or plot point that it was all for the greater good.

    I’m actually kind of tired of that. I’d like games to either admit what’s actually going on, or at least punish the player for being a rabid psychopath.

    It didn’t take itself too seriously, either, which was especially good because there were parts where it was quite clever. The cherry on the cake is that the dialgoue and the characters themselves are some of the better written ones I’ve encountered in a while, and when I wasn’t laughing or grinning like a loon, I was given pause for thought.

    I’d say it’s a game about games, but that doesn’t do it justice. It’s a completely honest game about games. And in it’s own way, it’s really brave and bold, and not like anything else you’ve ever played. I’m very happy with my purchase, and I wish there were more like it. I don’t know how you all feel about this, but it’s nice to play a game and not feel completely patronised by it, you know?

    I felt patronised by Skyrim (Dragonborn my arse), and Grand Theft Auto IV alike because both of those purported my heroism and tried their best to explain away video game mechanics with some of the most ridiculous nonsense imaginable.

    I feel that with Saints Row IV, I was sat down with it and it said the following to me:

    Hey. You’re a grown-up, now. You’re sexually secure, and you can tell fantasy from reality. So we’re not going to pat you on the back every few minutes and tell you that you’re a hero, okay? You’re not. In fact, in video games, you’re often a monster who’s no different than any villain, or even your direct adversary. We may even point that out a few times.

    Video games have become really obscured by a pseudo-intellectual need to be meaningful, and that’s fine when it works. Sometimes it does. But when a game is about murder and greed, there’s really no point. And you’re clever enough to know that. In every game like that, you’re a monster. In Assassin’s Creed you’re murdering people without knowing their guilt, or their lives. You just kill them in cold blood. What sort of person does that?

    You get that. We get that. That’s the problem. Video games haven’t changed much since the ’80s or ’90s, mechanically. They’re still mostly about objectives and rewards. Sometimes those objectives are padded out and the rewards are hung in front of you tantalisingly to keep you playing. Old games didn’t do that, that seems to be a new thing, lazy design is very contemporary. We won’t do that. We’re going to throw toys at you left and right, and we’re never going to put up a pretence about you being some galactic hero. You’re a shitbag. Most video game ‘heroes’ are, but that doesn’t make things less fun, does it?

    You’ll probably even have more fun if you’re not saddled by that.

    So here’s the thing, chief. Video games haven’t changed much since the ’80s and we’re going to talk about them a lot. What they’ve also done is tried to layer on levels of pretentious clothing without ever really changing much. We won’t do that. Our game is going to feel old and refreshingly new at the same time, because we won’t hide from you that it’s just a struggle for dominance and that really, all you want to do is defeat the big bad to prove that yours is bigger. (And more hardcore.)

    With all the bullshit stripped away, let’s see how much fun we can have exploring video games.

    I’m okay with that.

    Can I have more like that?

    I mean, yeah. It works for Gone Home, if you’re not running around killing people, but… I mean, look at BioShock Infinite. I’m sorry to say this but BioShock Infinite was just bollocks. It had this artsy lead in and then you spend most of the game just killing people like a mindless murderbot. The setting would have been better suited to an adventure game, or something more like L. A. Noire.

    Saints Row IV is… just a video game. No pretences. Have fun.

    Edit: I guess what I’m trying to say is that most video games of this ilk are hedonistic by nature, and no amount of pretentious sanctimony can change that. In fact, the pretentious sanctimony is insulting, dishonest, and off-putting. SR IV, however, has no truck with that. It’s comfortable with what it is.

    Instead of the angsty teen who’s trying to be something he’s not that most games feel like, SR IV feels like an adult who’s comfortable with who and what they are.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. TheWulf

    @6

    That’s kind of like saying that Saints Row: The Third is just a reskin of Grand Theft Auto IV. The super powers are just a small part of it, and you’re really missing out if you don’t give it a try.

    It is aimed at a different and older audience this time, though. It’s less contemporary, and deals more with the nature of video games themselves.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. TheWulf

    @5

    That’s because the challenge comes from wardens, later-game reinforcements, missions, and activities. They treat the main world like something of a toy box, you just have to look at it differently.

    Yeah, sure, you can get away from Zin grunts easily, but the same can be said about the police and gangs in Saints Row: The Third, or any other game of its ilk. It doesn’t want to be kicking your arse all the time, just some of the time.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. SplatteredHouse

    @Wulf I appreciate your enthusiasm for this game, and the way in which you’ve expressed that and stood up for it, after you’ve played it. :)

    Also, yes. It’s exactly like your example, tbh. It’s not the first time that advertising has rubbed me the wrong way, wrongly (ie, it’s painted an inaccurate impression, and that impression they introduced has deterred me from playing.) I’m not making a bee-line for SR4, but your opinion does buoy it.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Uncontested

    Tough job of convincing people of a lie.. Well no shit. I think its hilarious they keep whining about how its not an expansion yet it was clearly covered in Video Game Media that this was developed as a.. *GASP* EXPANSION PACK… to Saints Row 3.. and then in a money grab they said “Fuck it, call it a whole new game!” and slapped a $60.00 price tag on it.

    Sorry but you lost my dollar. Won’t even buy this when its $5.00 on STEAM in the Winter Sale.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. TheWulf

    @13

    Yet all the reviews out there disagree with this consensus. Plus, what’s funny is that people praised Saints Row 2 for exactly the same thing you’re admonishing Saints Row IV for. For reusing open world assets so that they could concentrate on content and building a better game.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. TheWulf

    @12

    Fair ’nuff.

    #15 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • Dying Light: Hard Mode and Ultimate Survivor Bundle out March 10

    Dying Light’s second DLC drop, the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, and the free Hard Mode, have been given a solid release date alongside a new trailer. Dying Light developer Techland has confirmed that the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, the game’s second DLC drop, will release March 10. The DLC is part of the season pass, but will […]

  • Exploration puzzler Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4

    Ether One, the first-person exploration game that puts you in the minds of other people to help change events of their past is coming to PlayStation 4 this year. Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4 this year, developer White Paper Games announced at GDC 2015. A retail version will also be available alongside the […]

  • Larian “murdered” Divinity: Dragon Commander to focus on Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian talked very candidly about the business side of development and the many unfortunate events that took place for the game to come out as it did. Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke gave a post-mortem on the troubled development of Divinity: Original Sin, and how it managed to overcome all of […]