God of War Creator on Death Stranding Marketing: “What The Hell is Happening”

David Jaffe -- the legendary creator of God of War and Twisted Metal -- wants to know what the heck Sony is thinking with its marketing of Death Stranding, which is something I think many gamers have wondered. For those that haven't been paying attention to Death Stranding in its build-up to release, well, let's just say it has been an anomalous marketing campaign, and maybe that matches the offbeat nature of the game, but from the outside looking in it's a bit odd to see from Sony's marketing team. As you will know, the marketing around Kojima games has always been cryptic, but Death Stranding at times has taken it to new levels, and thus Jaffe wants to know what the hell is happening.

In a video dubbed "Death Stranding Marketing: What Are They Thinking?!?," Jaffe explains that when, as a creator, you have a game coming out, you eventually sit down with Sony's marketing team and iron out the marketing strategy. Here, Jaffe notes that nothing is left to chance. In other words, plans are laid out very meticulously. "This s**t is mapped out on spreadsheets,"
said Jaffe, who's shipped a game or two with Sony in his day.

"When I look at what's happening with Death Stranding -- and I get more and more interested with every new thing they release from Death Stranding, so maybe that's good -- but I know that the general consensus from this trailer (the new Gamescom trailer at the top of the article) that they put out for Death Stranding, even though I really liked it, a lot of people did not like this trailer."

Jaffe continues, noting that many expressed their confusion with the trailer, as well as with what type of game it is, which isn't at all clear unless you do some further digging beyond trailers. "So I look at Death Stranding and I say, what is marketing thinking," added Jaffe.

At this point in the video Jaffe speculates that one of three things is going on. The first theory is that when Sony struck the deal with Kojima, they agreed to hand over the game's marketing approach to the Metal Gear Solid creator.

"Maybe Kojima has just drank a little bit too much of his own kool-aid, and thinks that's the kinda of cryptic, weird s**t that his hardcore fans love, which I know I consider myself one of them," said Jaffe. "Maybe he's like 'that's what they love!'" It's like, well that's what a lot of us love, but you gotta sell this to a lot more people."

The second possibility presented by Jaffe is that Sony is aware of the slow-burn and complicated nature of Death Stranding, which isn't going to bust out of the gate breaking sale records. In this scenario, Jaffe suggests Sony knows the game is more esoteric than flashy, and while it could be a Game of the Year-level experience, it's also not a game that lends itself to easy marketing material.

"The worst case is marketing is sitting back and going 'guys, what the f**k do we do with this f*****g thing.' 90 percent of this game is what you're seeing on the screen right now (exploring)," added Jaffe. "I don't think that's the case, Kojima is not a f*****g moron."

Jaffe argues that unless Sony just handed over the marketing to Kojima, it's hard to imagine the trailers and promotional material shown off so far being indicative of anything good. In other words, maybe there isn't more to the game as some are theorizing, and thus Sony doesn't know how to market it. Jaffe doesn't personally think this is the case, but he suggests it's a possibility.

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"I don't know, I look at this and this thing could be Game of the Year, but it's going to need word-of-mouth to save it, because it's f*****g weird man," adds Jaffe. "I love it, I'm excited..... but if you tell me, 'Hey Jaffe, you can play this tonight (Gears 5) or you could play this tonight (Death Stranding),' well, I don't know depends on the mood I'm in. I want to play both of these, but this right here (Gears 5 trailer playing) has Walrmart, Target mainstream success written all over it. This (Gears 5) is accessible, it's fun, it looks cool, this (Death Stranding) is hanging out in your dorm room after smoking some marijuana and sitting there discussing the universe with your buddies. This is a weird f*****g game."

Jaffe never gets to the third theory, but he does note that he think it's cool that we are in a industry that still makes these type of experiences, and that he thinks it's awesome Sony is bankrolling such a strange, and commercially risky, game.