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Bad Publicity is Good Publicity
If you’ve been reading up on your gaming news over the last couple of months then you know about Steam’s Greenlight campaign. It’s a chance for small developers to get their games on Steam’s huge retail outlet after getting enough votes from fellow gamers. If you’ve really been paying attention to your gaming news then you’ve heard about a small indie release from No Reply Games titled Seduce Me.
Why should you have heard Seduce Me? Because it got pulled from the Greenlight process only an hour after being submitted. Valve didn’t think that an “Adult” rated mature game had any place on Steam (read more about the original scandal here). Losing the chance to get onto Steam can be a make or break situation for independent games. Luckily for No Reply Games getting pulled sparked a huge interest in the game, with gamers talking about the ethics of sexual content in video games.
Honestly, it’s probably better that the game got pulled. I’ve played through the game and it’s a monotonousness adventure of the same handful of mini games with the reward of seducing 2-dimensional pictures of babes. It’s not fun, interesting, or rewarding. But I gave it a shot anyways because I wanted to see what the game was all about. To see how offense the game actually was. If Seduce Me had not been pulled from Steam their game would have been rejected by gamers and No Reply Games would have produced a game that no one knew about. At least now it’s a title that some people have heard of, and are interested in just to see how far it pushes the boundaries.
No Reply Games has produced a game that Steam found offensive. Instead of changing the content of their product they’ve used this negative publicity and tried to turn it to their advantage. Go to the game’s website, and look at their press page (or follow this link, to No Reply’s press page) and not a single video game journalist website talks about the actual content of the game. Sure, they have quotes from some big name companies like PC Gamer and Kotaku, but all of the quotes are about how the game was pulled off of Steam, not quotes from reviews.
Is bad publicity good publicity? For video games I think so. Seduce Me will never achieve very many sales. But their Steam scandal will result in a few buyers, which is better then none. And Seduce Me isn’t the first game that’s used negative reactions to their advantage. Do you remember when Grand Theft Auto was first getting popular? It took the world by surprise with some very graphic game content.
Grand Theft Auto became the game that parents hated, but children craved. The forbidden fruit, that could have put Rockstar out of business for being so offensive to so many people. But if you look at the sales records for the Grand Theft Auto series they’ve sold over 125 million copies with the help of their negative publicity. This beats out other extremeness famous franchises like Call of Duty and Final Fantasy. The point is, the negative publicity that is geared towards games doesn’t necessarily hurt the game’s sales. Gamers have a different sense of what’s offensive than the rest of our community, which means for video games bad publicity is good publicity.