Six things the Diablo III reveal can teach other publishers about unveiling games

By Patrick Garratt, Monday, 30 June 2008 15:54 GMT

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It was, in a word, awesome. The Diablo III reveal in Paris on Saturday was the stuff of dreams. Dream product, dream venue, dream organization. We got there and reported from it with ease. Why? Because everything we ever wanted from a press conference was included. For all the publishers and developers in the audience, everything you’re doing wrong when showing your games to the press for the first time is listed after the break. Please take note.

Things you should do when announcing a game at a conference

1 – Provide a proper, industrial strength internet connection. This is baffling to us. The vast majority of gamers get their information primarily from the internet. That’s a fact. And yet publishers still insist on not providing heavyweight wireless internet connections at events web journalists try desperately to report from live. Take the Sony PlayStation Day in London. No web connection at all. Why? The Worldwide Invitational provided a super-speed wireless connection to journalists, with limited log-ins meaning it wasn’t swamped. It meant reliable live reporting including photo uploads as the conference happened. Please take note the rest of you. EA’s recent London event had a great wireless connection and, again, you only got access by asking for a key. A good sign, but you can bet your bottom dollar none of the E3 or Leipzig conferences have it. Really helpful.

2 – Don’t have mini-Hitlers stopping people moving around. The Worldwide Invitational was a huge, huge affair, and yet the atmosphere with crowd control staff was blissfully relaxed. Journalists need to get up from their seats at presentations to take photos, film, and so on. This is a fact. There were no restrictions on movement at all. People were running around as they pleased and there was ample spacing between rows of seats. Please, please, please take note. We’re not there to smile and clap. We’re working, and we’re reporting on your products. Don’t stop us being able to do it properly by employing some brain-cripple in a suit to stop people trying to take fucking photographs that don’t include the back of someone’s head.

3 – Provide a proper, genuine ton of assets. Yep, we know development’s very hard, and we know deadlines are a nightmare, but just look at what we got on Diablo III. Dozens of shots, loads of art and a 20-minute gameplay movie, all released at the event itself. You want your game to headline every major site, right? That’s how you do it.

4 – Don’t give out any details to “partners” before the event. Blizzard has kept Diablo III under wraps for four years. That means it is possible. Until the game’s logo was shown in that presentation, no one outside the company knew for sure what it was. We’d spoken to properly senior sources in the UK and Europe in the week running up to the event that were “99 percent sure” it was Diablo III, but no one really knew. The atmosphere on the day was insane. There is nothing more demoralizing or hate-inducing than spending the money, taking the time and making the commitment to attend these events to get an MSN message 10 minutes before the conference starts saying, “It’s on IGN”. Have some faith in your fucking games, for God’s sake. And if you can’t have faith in them, shouldn’t you be asking yourself why?

5 – Nail the big four – movie, shots, wallpaper, lore. This was highlighted to us this morning by someone who really does know about these things. As well as assets, the lore aspect of Diablo was covered in hilarious detail at the Worldwide Invitational, leaving few questions unanswered. So we had information on both future and past iterations in the series, art to make things pretty, screens to show what the game looks like and for those who can see it, a stupidly long piece of video showing loads of sections of the game, different classes, monsters, mechanics: everything. Take away any one of those elements and you have a roomful of journalists saying, “Got any artwork?” Not at a Blizzard event.

6 – Do a massive website update. Do not fuck about. When the curtain lifts, blitz your site with all the assets, a new design, wicked graphics, awesome music and leave everyone clicking for Jesus. Why on earth wouldn’t you? You’re not rubbish, are you?

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