Little Big Planet, Huge Enormous Marketing Budget

Little Big Planet 2 is in production and the gaming sites want you to know it.

Currently the front page of Edge has four LBP2 related stories running, including the top article:
An announcement of the game
A news piece on how it is not just an expansion
An article detailing the newest Edge issue, featuring a LBP2 cover story
A story on the new features

1Up is also a little LBP2 crazy, with five stories on the game including the top article:
An announcement of the game
A news piece on how it is not just an expansion
“Six Levels I’d Love To Create Using Little Big Planet 2’s New Features and Themes”
A LBP2 music announcements piece
And the LBP2 debut trailer

IGN has LBP2 as their top story but only sports two other related stories:
LBP2 preview
LBP2 supports Move
LBP2 reveal trailer

Finally, Gamespot follows suit and has a LBP2 top story:
LBP2 preview
LBP2 interview
LBP2 announcement

Gamespot and IGN are behind in terms of Little Big Planet coverage. They should expect a few phone calls from Sony’s advertising company.

8 thoughts on “Little Big Planet, Huge Enormous Marketing Budget”

  1. I’m pretty sure what’s happening here is they’re all competing to be the definitive aggregator of “news” content for what sales of the first game has already shown is going to be a million-seller. No coercion or kickbacks from Sony are necessary, because existing LittleBigPlanet fans (and there are plenty out there) already want to read as much as they possibly can about it.

    This isn’t to say that illicit behavior doesn’t exist elsewhere, of course…

  2. Svetlana, it is entirely impossible to decipher if there is some suggestion from Sony going on or if it is merely that the major gaming sites run as an arm of major publishers without ever having to be asked.

    I didn’t mean to puck on LBP specifically, I’ve disliked how the major sites act as a publisher’s marketing arm for a long time. It just struck me as I was reading Edge today that the time to complain was now.

    I am familiar with the counter arguments. If gamers didn’t want to read a new article for every piece of information then the major sites wouldn’t be major. It’s a mirror of journalism today. If people wanted good reporting they’d ask for it.

    It is striking how similar a lot of the LBP stories are, though. Maybe vl should write an article about how LBP2 is not just an expansion.

  3. Wait. LBP2 isn’t just an expansion? Because whenever I see a sequel I instantly think “expansion”.

  4. I’m of two minds with this one. On one hand, I could see that yes, each site wants to be your one stop shop for all gaming content. It’s why IGN will come up as a top three google search result for any title you type in that they have in the database. It’s annoying, but I understand that it is how the business works.

    The other factor is that this may be the result of the 24 hour news cycle, wherein boredom sets in and people start posting whatever they can get their hands on, regardless of necessity. It’s why you’ll see people dissecting the trailer for the new Call of Duty, even though we’ve seen enough work from Treyarch that we can pretty much guess how it will end up.

    On the other hand, the tone and nature of these articles is what makes Jay suspicious, I presume. When a major film is in prodcution, say Iron Man 2, you’ll often see dry, neutral news stories in which quotes from the cast and crew are published. These quotes do their best to paint the film in the best light possible, and you might get a bit of speculation or gossip, but for the most part they simply post the info and let the fans be as optimistic or skeptical as they please. Game previews, on the other hand, often have a large degree of cheerleading going on. Maybe LBP2 is more of an expansion, and maybe it isn’t. It shouldn’t be the job of the writers to try and convince us. If you want to publish some quotes from the developers arguing for their game, fine, but it’s too early to start believing them, or helping push this idea down our throats. We know the game is in the works, but we should probably wait until it’s out to figure out whether they met their goal. Pre release material is too controlled, too purposeful for anyone to use it as an indicator of anything, really. To then take that material and start making judgement calls reeks of one hand helping the other.

    The easiest (and hardest) solution to all this is to remind ourselves that we have enthusiast press outlets, and nothing else. When a celebrity is being interviewed, and the interviewer is brown nosing and letting their subject put themselves in the best possible light, we roll with it because we know it is a fluff piece that can be safely ignored (we also know that in the next issue, someone is going to write a letter complaining about how shallow and annoying the celeb was). This is how something like the LBP2 media blitz should be regarded. The problem is that you have to convince every reader that what they have considered vital, hard hitting news and reporting is anything but.

  5. Jay, the evidence you’re stacking up here is entirely circumstantial. The ‘expansion’ stories look fishy, but the case can be made that Sony had Media Molecule interview game site writers during the announcement event specifically to defer the notion that LBP2 could have been done as an expansion — the quotes are different, after all — and only 1UP and EDGE considered it worth having as a quote-unquote “exclusive”.

    This is not a Sonic 2006 or a PortalRunner. It’s subversive, it takes advantage of game sites’ tendency to cozy up to publishers, and it’s still irresponsible on the sites’ part to give more fluff coverage to something just because people will read it, but this way sites like 1UP and Gamespot get to act as Sony’s marketing mouthpiece and pick up thousands of ad impressions while continuing to tell themselves that they’re not being jerked around by Sony. Technically speaking, it’s “win/win”.

  6. It is entirely circumstantial. I think it’s odd that the day these sites announce the game they also insist that it’s not an expansion pack, thereby addressing a nonexistent segment of gamers who assume all sequels they read about for the first time 10 minutes ago must be expansions. But that’s just a personal opinion.

    Game news sites often report as much as possible on any specific games, which ends up being very unbalanced from game to game. A game that is kept close to the chest gets 5 articles and a game that has info pouring out its ass gets 15. The real news organizations don’t just flood their sites and papers with stories because they have access to information, but that is essentially the role of the major game sites. To balance out this lack of info on some subjects, real journalists find information. Game journalists are given information. There is no investigative work because publishers are what feeds these sites.

    Ultimately I don’t think we really disagree, you just don’t think I have a case for Sony explicitly asking for certain coverage. You’re right, but the idea that they don’t need to be pressured to act as a mouthpiece is even more depressing.

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