Violence Sells… or Is It Just Brand & Quality?

DigitalBattle mentioned UK top selling games chart: Hitman: Blood Money was the week’s best selling game.

Violence as the selling point?
There’s debate whether violence is a selling point for games. Many games use some sort of violence (such as kicking, pushing, shooting etc.) and I think in some games it works quite well. Crazy indie game Gibbage would miss everything without the use of cartoon violence.

In this context – it works. But does it work for Hitman? Or is it a selling point for Hitman?

I don’t think violence (alone) has generated the success of this Hitman game. I only played the first game and I believe the sneaking, hiding and silent killing was much more interesting than running through levels and shooting everything that moves. The sequels are said to have even more violence so I cannot comment much about them, but I believe Hitman is a success because it’s a great game (that has created it’s own great brand) that doesn’t use violence for the sake of violence. It’s simply a darn good game.

Violence sells anyway – brand or not?
I tried a game called Punisher that is ultra violent… and in my opinion, a very bad example about the violence in games. The whole point of the game (as it hit to me when I played the demo several times) was to teach players not only to kill everything that moves, but to revenge it… and let players think that if somebody messed with you, it’s your right to kick their heads. I think that’s far away about something that games could teach us. Punisher has been 7th and 10th (among other ratings) on UK charts which must make Marvel one very happy company. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the brand Punisher & Marvel that sells and whether a game such as Punisher would have make it to top selling list without the existance of solid brand. My guess it’s the brand.

18 thoughts on “Violence Sells… or Is It Just Brand & Quality?

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  9. Flox

    I personally detest overt violence in a game. Though I have never played Hitman, the very principle of the game seems disturbing and sinister to me. It is more than possible a game could be equally exciting, sellable and ethical at the same time. As game developers, we should keep in mind we have a community minded responsibility to create good games that will improve the quality of life for everyone concerned, not just games that sell well for us. The last thing the world needs is a game like Hitman.

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  10. Dan Marshall

    I’m not sure where the gore from Gibbage came from. The game’s first incarnation was back in 1997, when I was 17. That probably explains it, actually.

    The gore in this incarnation of Gibbage is primarily there for comic effect. It’s funny to watch your various cartoon bits and pieces arc through the air and bounce off a wall. It lends the whole thing a certain charm. It’s not realistic and it’s not off-putting… at least, for me…!

    Dan

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  11. Eric Fortier

    Whenever people talk about violence and gore in games it always reminds me of the old Commodore 64 game “Infernal Runner”, where you character dies in some many violent ways… His head blows off, he gets impaled, he explodes, he get electrocuted… Thanks to Eric Chahi for those gory memories ;)

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  12. kirameki

    Well for me violence is actually a turn off when buying a game, though ultimately it’s the storyline or plot that will draw me in. Maybe I’m just squeamish. I rarely look at ratings anyways, I look at the games cover, and that’s generally what catches my eye first. Then I’ll read the back and see if it’s worth buying. I never realized how many M rated games I had until I went looking for a non-M or T rated game to get for my cousin’s birthday. In PS2 I found nothing worth it in the store at the time and ended up going with some never heard of game cube game where you create your own breed of monsters or something. It made me realize how many games I have that I never realized were rated T and M. :/

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  13. jerjer

    some publishers are convinced that violence sells, just because some M-rated games have been very successful. but in general, it doesn’t. the M-rated game sales as a %age of total US sales is still lower than the number of M-rated SKUs as a %age of total game SKUs. IMO, the more violent (in the ESRB/PEGI sense) a game is, the more likely it is to be different from the accepted standards, perceived as a UFO. In the excellent Killer7 for instance, the insane level of violence probably hurt the sales instead of attracting masses of supposedly bloodthirsty teenagers.
    besides, in their hypothetical quest for violence, game publishers don’t go as far as making AO games (the only AO games were rated so for sex content).

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  14. Juuso Hietalahti Post author

    Remark from Gibbage (after they saw this post):

    Gibbageis clearly The Internet’s most violent, bloodthirsty, cruel and sick blast-a-thon, and by all rights quite probably deserves to be banned outright due to the fact that it encourages little children to stab each other in the eyes with sticks.

    Has this helped sell loads of copies? No.”

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  15. Jams

    Over the top blood & gore can be an asset to a game if used in the right way. A good example is Sega’s House Of The Dead series – there’s something immensely satisfying about blowing holes in zombies and watching their arms, legs & heads fall off… It’s a similar feeling of OTT destruction found in games such as Rampage World Tour (I call it the Godzilla factor). Blood, gore & violence can be a great tool to give the user a great feeling of power.

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  16. Mike

    Violence alone does not make a game good but any realistic game with lots of gore makes the game much more fun.

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  17. Twist

    I can’t comment about the PC version of Hitman since I have never played it but the console versions were pretty shoddy IMHO. It just seemed like a game that was all wasted potential; like so many others. Looking back at a historical reference from my teenage years, Mortal Kombat, I think it may have been the violence that attracted us but we stuck around because the game-play was (arguably) good (I was more of a KoF fan myself but my friends loved MK and MK2). To me (a somewhat jaded and sarcastic gamer in his late 20′s) it seems that making a game with over the top violence and gore is just a good way to get free advertising.

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