It's not easy mining for success stories among mid-size game publishers, not at the end of this console generation. That's what makes Deep Silver's ability to put out console hits noteworthy, like they just did with Saints Row IV.
According to Deep Silver, while the game is now topping August sales charts, marketing it involved overcoming challenges and misconceptions set by a struggling THQ, which sold the IP to Deep Silver as it went into bankruptcy.
Saints Row IV gave Deep Silver something it never had before with its other properties, most notably the Dead Island games. The franchise had a legacy of three successful titles, building a lot of notoriety with THQ's way over-the-top 2011 sequel Saints Row The Third. Deep Silver's Aubrey Norris, who heads up PR and marketing for the company, believes that while the series is definitely one of the more beloved ones among gamers now, what people knew about Saints Row IV wasn't necessarily helpful in marketing it.
"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," said Norris. "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?"
"We wanted everything that we did to be just crazy. We wanted people to look at our key art and be like, 'what the hell'"
Norris implied that Deep Silver knew all along that it had a full game on their hands when they were considering acquiring it. But as THQ struggled to bring in revenue, it may have been in a rush to get something to market and decided a Saints Row expansion might be the ticket.
Said Norris, "When you have an expansion that's announced like that, and then 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."
Deep Silver also decided the game needed a slight tweak on positioning. Despite the success THQ had with it, Norris said they wanted to embellish just how over-the-top it had become.
"One thing that we noticed was that the way that Saints Row had been marketed before to a certain extent, it didn't feel like it was playing up the things that people love about the game as much as it should have," she said. "We wanted everything that we did to be just crazy. We wanted people to look at our key art and be like, 'what the hell'. Everything should be fun, it should be funny, not take itself seriously."
Read the full interview on our sister site, the [a]list daily.