Capcom Touts Game Heroes, Old and New

NEW YORK To introduce a new character while making sure fans didn’t forget an old one, Capcom turned to independent Petrol for an integrated campaign touting the fourth iteration of its popular video game franchise Devil May Cry.

Devil May Cry 4 introduces a new hero, Nero. While the previous hero, Dante, also plays a significant role in the story, the idea, Capcom said, was to bring in a new face without losing focus on the character the series had spent three previous games developing.

This week sees the launch of an integrated campaign for the U.S. version of the game, which will be released one week after it debuts in Japan on Jan. 31. The campaign consists of three online videos the agency hopes will go viral, two microsites (deceiverdeceived.com and betrayerbetrayed.com) and rich media banner ads. Print launches today; television, which is still being finalized, begins in February.

In the 45-second viral “Dante,” a live-action version of Dante sits in a darkened bar, his sword next to him. A shadowy figure enters and Dante looks up at the camera, seeming to sense that something is amiss. The figure’s hand begins to glow in preparation for the apocalyptic fight that seems ready to erupt. The second viral focuses on Nero, while the third shows the two fighting each another.

“The brief was to introduce a new character without losing the focus on Dante,” said Laili Bosma, product marketing manager, Devil May Cry 4, Capcom, San Mateo, Calif. Capcom will ship 1.2 million units of the game to retailers. By comparison, Halo 3, another popular game, has sold 8.1 million units since it was introduced in late September.

The campaign will take place over three stages: pre-launch, which began on Monday; launch, which happens when the game is released on Feb. 5; and post-launch, which will occur about two weeks after the game is on store shelves.

The pre-launch virals will be seen in rich media banners that are running on hardcore gaming sites such as EGM and Gamespot. After the launch, TV, which will focus on game footage, will be seen on mainstream networks such as Spike and FX; print will run in publications such as Maxim and Revolver. Post-launch print will appear in a mix of hardcore enthusiast periodicals like Game Informer and general-interest magazines. In addition, Capcom has paid GameStop an undisclosed amount to devote its U.S. store windows to the game for the month of February.

In December, to prep players for the transition, fan sites either devoted to the game or franchises similar to it were given early screen shots and art in an attempt to build buzz.

Another part of the marketing strategy includes releasing the first volume of the Japanese Devil May Cry: The Animated Series to stores on the same day as the game launches, along with toys, apparel, soundtracks, CDs, art books and figurines related to the game.

Petrol was responsible for the campaign and media buying. The campaign and media cost approximately $7 million, per sources.

“The challenge was to introduce a new character that was relatively close in appearance to Dante. Because of the immense pressure the development team is under to produce the game, they rarely have time to provide assets for the advertising campaign,” said Alan Hunter, president, cd, Petrol. “We came up with a basic strategy to lure people in by setting up two characters that you don’t know who’s good or who’s bad.”