Professor Layton: Marketing Failure, Game Success?

No Comments// Posted in Blog by on 09.07.10.

Now I want to start off by saying that I LOVE LAYTON. I played and finished the first one in probably a couple of days. It’s the kind of puzzle cocaine you can’t put down. The puzzles are difficult and varied, and the storyline manages to keep you interested while not getting in the way of gameplay.

Oh, did I mention difficult? Part of the fun of the Layton series is learning how to re-assemble your DS once you’ve thrown it against a wall. Or a loved one. Sorry about that.

I don’t remember where I heard about their Ladies vs. Gents Puzzle Challenge… probably the Twitters. But I was excited! The very first one was in San Francisco! I live in San Francisco! Or, near it. Unfortunately it was on a Tuesday which meant I ended up making a trip into the city alone, but it’s nice to explore sometimes.

So, yes, I made an hour train trip specifically to try out the new Layton and see what they had going on. I am a giant freaking nerd.

I walked up and saw the iconic London phone booths and I smiled a little. I’ve been to London, and the monument in Union Square Park reminds me of something you’d see there. But the rest of the area couldn’t be more West coast, and the dichotomy was amusing to my moderately traveled brain.

When I got there, there was one line that was really really long and one line that wasn’t so long at all. I quickly learned that the long one was the men’s line and the short one was the women’s line, from a nice young chap dressed quite similarly to Layton’s apprentice, Luke. In fact, I asked him if he was Luke, and he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. Strike one, Nintendo.

I got in line and watched as the girl in front of me struggled through some puzzles in the phone booth, amused, thinking “Oh I got this.” I asked the girl what they were basing their scores on, whether it was tries or time, and they said both, I had three minutes. Okay. So I started on a puzzle and quickly realized that these bitches set me up. It was a fairly overcast day, but there was quite a decent glare on the screen, and my puzzle was mostly based on colors that I really couldn’t see at all. It took me two tries and about a minute to finish my first one, and which point I stepped out and said “Two!” And they said “Two puzzles?” And I said… “No, two tries, was I supposed to keep going?” and they said “Yes, but uh, I guess your time is up.” No watch, no timer, and I know it wasn’t three minutes because I stood in line and watched how long they gave the other ruffians. They gave me my free shirt (tadaaaa, highlight of my experience) and I walked away, almost running into a girl dressed as Flora Reinhold who was drinking a cup of Starbucks. I didn’t dare ask her if she knew who she was supposed to be.

I want to send out a giant memo typed in capital letters that tells marketing directors that sending your shitty interns to do your public marketing events isn’t a great marketing strategy. Not one person there seemed to give a flying fuck what was going on. Not one person tried to talk a bit more about the game. And really, not one person was qualified to be taking the results, because they didn’t seem like they had any clue what the game was supposed to be, and they definitely didn’t have a clue how to communicate their directions. Maybe this would be a more effective event just to grab people who had never heard of the game before, but I’m not sure. The entire thing felt so entirely sloppy, mismanaged and a waste of potential that I don’t know if I’d buy the game if that was the first time I had tried it.

Plus, the fucking puzzle made me want to throw their DS at the wall.

(Professor Layton and the Unwound Future goes on sale Sunday, September 12, and I will probably be purchasing it sometime shortly after. The series really is fantastic and despite my disappointments in their event, the new game seems just as intriguing and challenging as the rest.)

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