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Psygnosis’ underground launch strategy

Designed for Sony's PlayStation console, Wipeout 3 is gearing up to build on a five-year-old, three-game franchise that's sold more than 1.5 million units worldwide. Selling for under US$60, the latest title in the futuristic anti-gravity racing series will feature eight...
September 1, 1999

Designed for Sony’s PlayStation console, Wipeout 3 is gearing up to build on a five-year-old, three-game franchise that’s sold more than 1.5 million units worldwide. Selling for under US$60, the latest title in the futuristic anti-gravity racing series will feature eight new circuits, seven new weapons, a split-screen option for two-player action and a killer licensed soundtrack.

Given that teens are such greedy consumers of music, Wipeout 3 product manager Susan Campbell says the game’s 10 original tracks of electronic music provide Psygnosis with a key marketing angle. To fully exploit this strategy, the company brought in European club DJ Sasha as the musical director for the game, and signed a co-sponsorship deal for Sasha’s Global Underground Tour across the U.S. in July and August. Plans for a Wipeout 3 promo at New York club Twillo, where Sasha has a monthly gig, are also in the works. As part of an agreement inked with Spectre Marketing (an L.A.-based company that contacts U.S. radio stations when new CDs and singles come out), Sasha will do a radio interview from his studio in the U.K., explaining why he got involved with the game.

Although the game’s music won’t be available on record until December, keeners can preview tracks on www.wipeout3.com, which has been up and running since August. Samples of Wipeout 3′s music and footage of the race itself are available on the site as teasers that change every two weeks. Psygnosis is also pushing the tunes at www.ubl.com, an underground music mag on the Net. Negotiations with the `zine were still underway at press time. A two-month campaign in October and November will target other underground music and pop culture mags including XLR8R and RayGun.

Psygnosis has orchestrated a radio station campaign with Spectre Radio, which began touring 100 college and community radio stations in the U.S. in August, offering listeners a chance to win Wipeout 3 merchandise. The campaign runs through September. ‘This isn’t commercial radio,’ Campbell explains. ‘It’s more avante-garde, which should appeal to teens.’

On the tube side, Psygnosis is concentrating on an underground TV campaign. L.A.-based Arcade America airs Freak City, an edgy show that features little-known techno music videos, in 15 U.S. cities on Friday nights. Wipeout 3 has a 30-second commerical running from mid-August to mid-September, and Psygnosis has also purchased a promotional feature that runs on the show over four weeks in September.

If teens miss the underground TV and radio spots, they might get lured in by mall demos. In conjunction with I-Games, Psygnosis has taken four PlayStation demo pods on a 25-city tour that began in July and runs through September.

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