Gods & Heroes: Desperation, Thy Name Is…

… publicity stunt.

I’ve been a bit slack in blogging this month, mainly due to other commitments.  Work is very busy, Xmas is busy for social things and I’ve got a stack of games to play through. It’s all first world problems, but it eats into the time I could be spending telling the world what I think.

However, a small trinket caught my eye: if Gods and Heroes achieved 3000 concurrent players in last weekend’s stress test, Heatwave Interactive CEO Anthony Castoro is going to shave his head.

Gods and Heroes - Medusa group shot

It looks like even these guys were trying to get into the RIFT beta weekend.

My money is on Castoro getting shaved this week. First, the publicity stunt is in itself desperate – “a MMO that can’t get 3000 players on at the same time? How weak is that?” is what it says to me. Sure, it was also a RIFT beta weekend, but not everyone is getting into that title. The announcement makes it seem like Heatwave is having difficulty attracting anyone to Gods and Heroes.

Secondly, if Castoro doesn’t shave his head, it is a public announcement of failure. It means that they couldn’t even get 3000 concurrent players despite offering something quirky on top of the game Heatwave wants to make money on. If you can’t get 3000 players online at the same time for free, good luck in doing it when they have to pay to play.

Finally, it suggests to me that a lot of the “good to see a game / Gods and Heroes rise from the dead” was exactly that: talk. It is exceptionally easy to wish someone well in an endeavour when you have nothing invested and don’t have to do anything. The potential exists for Heatwave to have seen the initial positive reactions to their Gods and Heroes acquisition as a sign that players would flock to the game and are now surprised that they have to resort to public hazing ceremonies to get people at all interested. After all, if Heatwave had some time to plan, I’m sure they could have come up with something better than shaving a man bald.

I’m Not A Cruel Man; Please Ignore The Thumbscrew Collection

The above comes off as a little cruel, I know. I recognise that it is exceptionally hard for an indie MMO to gain traction in today’s market and that every little bit can help. But I can’t see how shaving Castoro’s head does anything for Heatwave or Gods and Heroes. I mean, what’s next in order to gain publicity for this title? Everyone at Heatwave gets shaved if 5000 players log in at once? Castoro does a nude run around the Blizzard offices? Players can win a chance to throw rotten eggs at Heatwave investors?

Publicity stunts only work some of the time and there is no going back. The next stunt needs to be bigger and better in order to keep people interested and all it does is take attention away from the very title it is meant to be promoting.

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