HOW WE USHERED IN A NEW ERA OF FREE TO PLAY WITH…A LITTLE HELP FROM DAD.
The birds. The bees. And now, Blizzard. When the creators of StarCraft II came to Armed Mind with the news that SCII was relaunching as ‘free to play,’ we understood the seminal game would never be the same.
Like any other “Coming of Age” conversation, our ad campaign addressed it head-on. And a wee bit awkwardly.
After 7+ years, StarCraft II decided to change to a free-to-play model. But in a crowded eSports marketplace, that kind of evolution faced a few unique challenges:
- 1) With franchise roots that reach back to 1998, our campaign had to address brand fatigue — and confusion — head-on.
- 2) F2P controversies plague the space, demanding a no-gimmick angle that would reinforce wins won’t be bought, and skills won’t be paid for.
- 3) SCII’s relaunch came with no new content, complicating efforts to drive buzz and chatter.
A simple new price-point demanded a simple message that would not only celebrate the prestige of StarCraft’s name and status as an eSports founding father, but generate fresh waves of brand awareness and chatter.
So a chat is right where we started. With the brand ‘coming of age,’ we sat fans of two generations down on the couch for a little (awkward) heart-to-heart.
Through one father’s conversation with his son—and a few expert applications of a glue gun—we (re)connected with fans worldwide, triggered an avalanche of media coverage, and revitalized the brand’s face with more than just a well-groomed beard, but bona fide buzz.
Project StarCraft II “Free to Play” Ad Campaign
What We Did
- Concept and Scripting
- Location + Talent Scouting
- Live Action Shoot
- Post Production
TWO AGE-GROUPS COME OF AGE
Our campaign ads leveraged live-action father-son chats to channel the ‘coming of age’ subject matter in a way our different audience segments could appreciate, with older existing and lapsed fans invited in right beside younger new players. Welcome to the birds and the bees of F2P—Blizzard style.
TO GIT GUD, GIT LAUGHS
Our fake StarCraft II family sported enough awkward moments and Easter eggs to one-up the holiday meals in our launch window, using everything from lush beards, stolen engagement rings, and the weirdest family photo album you’ve ever seen to connect authentically to Blizzard fans, break through the “F2P” clutter, and make light of Blizzard’s, uh, growth spurt.
CATALYZING COVERAGE AND CHATTER
The game’s new simplified price point demanded a simplified message, but that didn’t mean the creative couldn’t be nuanced. Our campaign generated press on day one through savvy social amplification and a confident message that connected with frustrated gamers worldwide.
HONORING HISTORY WHILE MAKING IT
As an RTS, StarCraft II has defined a genre. As a game with an audience of 100+ million players and releases since the 90s, it has also defined a generation. While still appealing to new fans, we wanted to honor SCII’s roots for eagle eyed fans with Easter Eggs in the family photo album, including SCII’s first loading screen on the monitor behind Mom, and an actual eSports stage behind gramps.
Our concept was carefully created to ensure it would resonate with audiences in markets worldwide, as the spots were localized for markets in Taiwan, South Korea, Brazil, and Mexico, and released in dubbed English more widely.
CREATING BUZZ AND CHATTER BEYOND THE CORE
Beyond the media plan, our “Coming of Age” campaign generated chatter and earned press amongst mass outlets like Forbes, Mashable and more industry-centric outlets like PC Gamer.