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Rare questions Microsoft's marketing of Viva Piñata

Viva Piñata developer Rare has questioned why its owner Microsoft decided to back Gears of War with such a high-profile marketing campaign, which left its own new franchise in the shadows last Christmas.

Viva Piñata developer Rare has questioned why its owner Microsoft decided to back Gears of War with such a high-profile marketing campaign, which left its own new franchise in the shadows last Christmas.

Software engineer James Thomas feels that the new family-friendly IP lost out to Epic's Gears of War, which enjoyed a much bigger marketing budget from Microsoft, helping it top the charts all over the world.

"Most interestingly I think from our point of view, it was interesting to see how the marketing budget was split last Christmas, because obviously everyone knew that Microsoft were publishing Gears of War and Viva Piñata," said Thomas, talking to Gamasutra.

"Yet, so much of the money went towards publishing Gears of War, which is going to sell millions anyway."

"It was a bit like, 'what about the other franchise?' I think we got left in the wake somewhat. Hopefully the PC version this Christmas, it might get something of a second wind."

In the same interview, Justin Cook, who worked as a designer on Viva Piñata, notes that the game has sold "close to half a million sales now, so that isn't a terrible debut for a game."

In contrast, Epic's Gears of War broke records on release, becoming the fastest-selling next-gen console game and hitting 3 million sales within ten weeks, as well as becoming the most played game on Xbox Live.

Epic Games president Michael Capps said earlier this year that much of the success of the game was due to a big marketing budget, and the company was "extremely lucky" to have the backing of Microsoft.

However, Microsoft does still has faith in the Piñata franchise. At E3 this year it unveiled Viva Piñata: Party Animals in development at Krome Studios, and Climax's Games for Windows version of the original is due shortly.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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