Helluva Campaign: Marketing Diablo 3

Blizzard Activision’s new PC game title Diablo 3 launches worldwide tomorrow, and is the culmination of four solid years of a stellar, multi-faceted marketing campaign. With nearly 800,000 pre-orders (that’s nearly 48 million dollars in sales before game has even been released) it’s clear that Blizzard is doing something right.

The marketing campaign for this video game spans the entire spectrum and represents a highly coordinated effort to communicate the utter coolness of Diablo 3 across all channels. Since June 28, 2008, when Diablo 3 was announced at a live event and on Facebook, the energy has continued to grow, as well as the amount of money put into the marketing efforts, the main channels being web, social, live events and TV.

Web

The central point of the web campaign is Diablo3.com, a highly stylized and engaging site that leverages incredibly well-produced media such as video trailers, gameplay footage, previews, concept art, developer diaries, etc., many of which are updated daily. Over the years the site has expanded from a simple teaser site to a thriving community rich with content. The most recent expansion allows visitors to create battle standards which they can use in-game once it’s released - a very cool way to squeeze the last bit of excitement out of the audience before the launch.

Social

With a history going back to 1996, facebook.com/Diablo has continually been a place where Blizzard leverages content from Diablo3.com. The aforementioned “banner creation” component allows players to share their creations to further increase the game’s visibility on social channels. Twitter (twitter.com/#!/diablo) has also been active on a daily basis providing updates and content and driving users to the website.

Live Events

Blizzard is SO big, and there is SO much money to be made, they have literally created their own convention, BlizzCon, to promote only their games. Just to give you the scale of these events, the Foo Fighters played last year (yeah, I was there). One of the key attractions was, of course, a playable demo of Diablo 3, which was set up on hundreds of computers. People took videos of the gameplay with their phones, tweeted their excitement and created a surge of interest in the upcoming release.

Television

As I mentioned before, I’ve been to BlizzCon where they typically have panels in which they reveal and discuss cinematics like these, which recently appeared as television ads:

Now the content may not be your cup of tea, but imagine you are a kid who grew up reading Lord of the Rings and slaying imaginary dragons in your backyard with wooden sticks. Now imagine you’re that same kid in your 20s with $60 of disposable income. There’s no way this marketing doesn’t speak to that inner child and compel action. And they had better. These cinematics take over a year to produce by an entire division at Blizzard and represent an enormous financial investment, even before airtime is purchased. But with presence on ESPN, MTV and Comedy Central (and keeping in mind the number of pre-orders mentioned earlier) you can bet they’re paying off.

What the Diablo 3 campaign shows is how to market to a very specific person, and do it extremely well. It also illustrates what it costs to do so in an impactful and comprehensive way. If the old saying is true, that you have to spend money to make money, then hell, Blizzard should be all set.

And yes, one of those pre-orders is me. See you in Sanctuary.