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No Ordinary Video Game; No Ordinary PR Campaign

By Wesley Vaughn

Video game reviewers have billed it as “not your ordinary first-person shooter.” Combining lightning-fast gameplay, striking visuals and a brazen attitude, Bulletstorm separates itself from the pack of typical video games.

It makes sense that its public relations campaign would do the same.

Bulletstorm, a game developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games and published by Electronic Arts, was released on February 22. But, the coverage for the game began earlier in the month, thanks in part to a not-so-ordinary PR tactic.

The Call of Duty series has been one of the most prominent first-person shooter franchises in the video game industry. Though it has remained successful, the latest versions of the game have received criticism for becoming boring – not the description normally desired for a video game.

The makers of Bulletstorm attempted to capitalize on this lack of excitement by not only creating Bulletstorm, but also Duty Calls. Released on February 2, Duty Calls is a free-to-download video game that satirizes the dullness of Call of Duty.

What an ingenious way to target an audience. Recap: Video game developers develop a video game that both advertises for their upcoming video game and makes fun of their competitor for people who play video games.

It didn’t take long for Duty Calls to cause a stir among video game media and gamers. This stir undoubtedly brought attention to Bulletstorm that it may never have received.

Enough attention that it prompted Fox News to ask if Bulletstorm was the worst video game in the world. Epic Games President Mike Capps said that he appreciated the publicity either way.

“For a game that’s over-the-top, they [Fox News] probably helped sell more units than they convinced people to pick at us,” he said in an interview.  One website has reported that Bulletstorm could end up with sales beyond $4.5 million.

None of this may have happened without Duty Calls. The idea and execution of reaching a target audience so well with a quality-marketing tool created enough discussion to send Bulletstorm to the mainstream.

Are there other examples of a marketing tool such as Duty Calls in other industries?


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