Irrational Games has created several of the industry’s most popular video games to date - their most famous, BioShock, is considered by industry experts as one of the top 10 games in terms of creativity, user base and revenue. To build momentum, interest, industry buzz and to mobilize a loyal fan base prior to the much anticipated release of BioShock 2, I worked with Irrational Games to create a new digital strategy, branding, and website experience. After a user research phase (which was quite a delight for me as a huge gamer myself) we began by crafting a compelling vintage-inspired brand aesthetic, tone and personality for Irrational that would ensure a consistent experience as the site and brand expanded to other touchpoints within the consumer life cycle. The brand and online experience needed to appeal to the intelligent, unexpected, high-design soul that defined Irrational Games’ core products. The key to our strategy was something we called "the WOOT! factor” - the gaming signifier for a moment of unexpected delight when you discover something new and amazing.
From the new logo, to the new collateral, to the shiny new website, to a social media stategy, we reinvented a beloved brand and gave them an authentic, "anti-corporate" voice. The site was structured as an "inside-out" perspective - a "fly on the wall inside their studio" concept. This allowed for quirky injections of Irrational humor including a sprinkling of Easter eggs, exclusive content from the game studio (e.g. rejected concept art) and even a hilarious badge and points system rewarding community members for site-wide actions. The gamification integration was widely embraced and loved, a groundbreaking integration for a game studio website, and something that caught the attention of the media and captured the heart of fans. The user experience included a personalized achievement system, leaderboards, robust community profiles and discussions, behind the scenes exclusives, and even a monthly podcast series (which became the top downloaded podcast across all categories on iTunes for the Month of February 2010 (one month after site launch). Not just the top gaming podcast, mind you. The top podcast overall. Woot!
Our award-winning work for Irrational appealed to superfans by letting them have unprecedented access into them game studio, and making them part of the brand itself. Because of our work, Irrational was able to fortify and strengthen a genuine and intrinsic connection with their adoring community. We set an industry standard for “insider insights” model of content development for game developer sites, which many competitors have now begun to adopt.
The world-renowned Director of Irrational Games Ken Levine summed it up wonderfully - "Look, it’s simple. Mitch and H&G rock. They get us, they get our audience, they get what a virtual destination and intense online community for our fans should and shouldn’t be.”