Hey, you, over there! D'you wanna make a video game series so successful that you're branded "the cancer that is killing the gaming industry" by some bloke on an internet forum with an obscure JRPG character as his profile picture?
Well, fortunately for you I have compiled a guide that will detail how you can accomplish such a feat. Here's the Lazyman's (you) guide to creating an extremely popular video game franchise.
RULE #1: Know Your Audience
Surveys have said that the average gamer is 30-years-old, but a 30-year-old gamer isn't likely to buy weapon/armour upgrades and t-shirts for their avatar to wear, as a 30-year-old will have most likely been pilfered out of enough of his/her money in his/her lifetime to realise that spending real money on virtual clothing is as fiscally irresponsible as forwarding money to that Ugandan Prince who keeps emailing you. In order to "make bank", as Bobby Kotick almost definitely wouldn't say, you're instead going to have to set your sights on teens who would otherwise spend their money on drugs, pizza or whatever other shit teenagers buy.
RULE #2: Target Their Insecurities
Considering that teenagers predominantly like video games that feature gratuitous amounts of violence, it's going to be illegal for you to launch marketing campaigns that directly identify your target audience as being under the age of 18. However, teenagers don't actually want to be teenagers, they want to be cool 21-year-olds, so by advertising your product to their older brothers instead, you're essentially securing the attention of two demographics at once.
This Super Nintendo advert from 1991 is a prime example of this, as it depicts a young Paul Rudd almost literally being blown away by the sheer POWER of the SNES, while a group of 20-somethings look on in awe. Paul Rudd is playing the role of "your handsome older sibling who spends his college fund getting drunk with pretty girls" here, with him being exactly the kind of guy you'd want to be when you were 15. To know your audience is to know their insecurities, and once you know their insecurities it's easy to convince them that the only thing missing from their lives is F-Zero.
RULE #3: Utilise Peer Pressure
"A few of us are playing Halo 4 tonight, mate. D'you fancy it?"
"You've got the new map pack, haven't you?"
"We're only going to be playing on maps from the new map pack."
"Oh, okay. I'll download it now."
DLC is what will keep customers interested in your game and what will keep profits steadily flowing into your bank account until you release its sequel the following year. The great thing about DLC for publishers is that it will be purchased just as many times by people who couldn't give a toss about the content, as it will be by people who have been waiting excitedly for it since the day it was announced. This is because DLC segregates gamers who do not own it from those who do, with many buying it simply so that they can join in with their friends. For every 3 customers who buy your map pack because they legitimately want it, there will be another customer who buys it because they feel like they have to.
RULE #4: Make Your Product Omnipresent
The biggest games are promoted like movies, being marketed on television commercials, on the sides of buses and on packs of Doritos that sit next to Geoff Keighley.
While giving your product a good amount of exposure is obviously going to greatly increase the chances of people buying it, mundane advertisements on billboards aren't exactly going to get people talking and, for better or for worse, you're going to want people to be talking about your product.
Take the 'Zombie Bait Edition' of the upcoming Dead Island: Riptide, for example. Featuring a statue of the mutilated torso of a woman wearing a skimpy bikini, it's a shameless attempt to court controversy that was rightfully vilified by the gaming press (including Crave Online).
But despite the negative backlash surrounding it, what harm will it have done to the success of Dead Island: Riptide? The answer, of course, is none. No one will boycott Dead Island: Riptide because of this statue, and chances are that the majority of people who had previously never heard of it, promptly searched it on YouTube and found its grossly misleading CGI trailer and are thus more inclined to buy it than they previously were.
The video game industry is prone to controversies, with pitchforks being sharpened for a new target seemingly every week. However, no matter how much you may tread on the toes of your customers, no matter how many mutilated torso statues you sell, as long as people are discussing your game and it has a Metacritic score above 80, it will sell.
Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.