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The original Disney Epic Mickey was one of Disney's biggest AAA game releases ever, and it was a hit despite a somewhat mixed reception by critics; it's a testament to both the marketing muscle at Disney and the enduring appeal of Mickey Mouse as a character. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is an even larger investment, coming to the Xbox 360 and PS3 along with the Wii, and will even have a complementary 3DS game release in Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. We caught up with Ted Chi, Vice President of Global Marketing at Disney Interactive, to talk about marketing plans for the much anticipated sequel.
[a]list: What did you learn from marketing the original that you'll apply to the sequel?
Ted Chi: Mickey Mouse is a character with an incredible heritage across all demographics. We were able to build upon this deep connection for the launch of the first game. I think we were able to successfully tap into Warren's original vision for the game by communicating Mickey's role as a hero in an alternate world. We were also in an enviable position for any marketing, as the game delivered true innovation with Mickey's power to literally change the world with his magic paintbrush and the use of paint and thinner. It is this heroism and gameplay innovation that resonated across all of our consumer facing communication. What we ultimately learned was that, despite early research, Mickey Mouse has the ability to transcend demographics - kids, adults, and core gamers alike.
[a]list: How will your marketing campaign look to capitalize on the enduring popularity of Mickey as a character, beyond his role in this series?
Ted Chi: We do have the unique ability to harness the strengths of the Walt Disney Company for Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Our marketing campaign will leverage the unique cross-divisional support to reach gamers around the world. Whether it is through TV channels, theme parks or cruise lines, we will reach both casual and core gamers across all mediums (both physical and interactive).
"Oswald is our secret weapon. Most people do not know that Oswald was actually Walt Disney's first cartoon star, before Mickey Mouse... We will be taking Oswald to new heights"
[a]list: What are the considerations for the Disney Epic Mickey 2 marketing campaign to bring in new fans, especially now that the game is releasing on multiple consoles?
Ted Chi: We believe that Disney Epic Mickey is a franchise that resonates with all consumers. Whether it is a Disney fan who loves Mickey Mouse or a core gamer who wants to battle the Blot, the first game delivered something for everyone. We also recognize that some core gamers have a greater affinity for specific genres (e.g. shooters). As a result, our plan is to offer this audience a completely unique experience by delivering a high quality game, while also leveraging the existing fan base. Given the distinct demographic for each respective platform, our marketing plan will speak to each of these segments and reach them in the right place, at the right time and in the right way.
[a]list: Disney Epic Mickey 2 has options for two players - how will you look to emphasize the role of Oswald in the campaign for the sequel?
Ted Chi: Oswald is our secret weapon. Most people do not know that Oswald was actually Walt Disney's first cartoon star, before Mickey Mouse. He is a fun, irreverent and quirky personality who will be playable for this first time in Disney Epic Mickey 2. We will be taking Oswald to new heights… you'll have to wait on this one but I promise you, Oswald will be a bigger star than he already is.
[a]list: How will you emphasize the shift towards having musical numbers in the marketing campaign, since that seems like it will be a key part of the game.
Ted Chi: Music is an element in any interactive medium and it's an element that supports the overall experience in Disney Epic Mickey 2. We see the marketing campaign playing out in the same way.
[a]list: What attention will you give to the 3DS game, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, which also seems to tangentially tie into the classic Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse.
Ted Chi: Typical videogame launches fold all messaging, tactics and creative into a single campaign. This would be a huge mistake for us, given the unique storyline and gameplay experience delivered by Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. The game itself will deliver on the nostalgia of the 1990 Castle of Illusion release, bringing new audiences into the franchise. We view Disney Epic Mickey: Castle of Illusion as a completely different Disney Epic Mickey experience - thus deserving of its own campaign.
[a]list: Ted, thanks.