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Cage decries conservative marketing

Fahrenheit name change "f***** stupid".

Video game marketers in the US are too conservative and often struggle to sell story-driven titles, according to Heavy Rain creator and Quantic Dream boss David Cage.

Speaking in an interview with Develop, Cage argued that many publishers are underestimating customers' appetite for more daring game concepts.

"The games I make don't include a gun," he explained.

"Very often, American marketing departments have a problem with this. They have this image of their market being gun-loving red-necks. It's completely wrong.

"We had huge arguments with Atari in New York about Fahrenheit. We told them they were making a huge mistake not supporting the game - they will see the reviews and they will like what they see.

"They should have put marketing dollars on the table, and I told them that, but they didn't want to listen to us. When the reviews came in they were even better in the US than they were in Europe, but by the time they realised, it was too late. Fahrenheit sold well in the US, we made money out of it, but it was a slice of the potential, because of this lack of trust."

Cage decried Atari's decision to change the title of Quantic's 2005 adventure Fahrenheit to The Indigo Prophecy, dubbing the new monicker a "f****** stupid name".

He added that marketing departments are too reluctant to leave their FPS comfort zone and don't know what to do with games attempting something more innovative.

"The problem is that we are in a very conservative industry," he continued.

"Each time you come to marketing departments with very simple concepts, like 'the hero has ten weapons and goes through 20 levels, and there's a snow level and a jungle level and a sand level and a whatever level and it's gonna be so great because I can display more explosions on screen than any other game and…' then they have it.

"When you come to them about a game based on a story. Or, a game based on child abduction, they think 'my god'. It's very difficult for them to commit to anything that's remotely different.

"The only way to solve this is to keep at it; game after game, get more trust. Show them how successful you are, and hope that eventually they, and the whole industry, will turn around."

Elsewhere in the interview, Cage argued that the industry's continuing obsession with shooters is holding the medium back from properly crossing over into the mainstream.

"My thoughts are, what about adults, what about all the people who don't play because they have no interest in shooting other people. We're pushing the whole market into a niche," he said.

"We've opened the market in a massive way just by thinking a little bit about how we can reach new audiences. It's something we should really think a lot harder about.

"When I talk to people at games conferences, I always hear someone say video games are mainstream," he continued. "You know what, you're not mainstream, you're a niche. You're a very small niche. You are nothing. Look at Farmville. Look at Wii Fit. They're both closer to being mainstream.

"Look at Avatar. Look at any movie. Look at any TV show on prime time. That's mainstream. Something's mainstream if my parents and grandparents understand what I'm referring to."

There's still no word on what Quantic Dream has planned for its next title, other than that it will be a PlayStation 3 exclusive for Sony, and won't be Heavy Rain 2.

"Hopefully we're building something exciting, something different. Hopefully it will build on the foundations of Heavy Rain, but go forward in a very, very, different way."

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Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.