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How Well Did EA's Dead Space Marketing Gamble Pay Off?

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
*Electronic Arts* has been bashed for relying on "safe," unoriginal games and sequels to fuel its sales, so critics and gamers took notice when it went out on a limb with Dead Space last October. The gory survival game, in which players try to slice and dice their way out of an alien-infested space ship, moved 470,000 units in its first month, a slow burn that lead to more than a million units sold by the end of the quarter.

Games analyst Jesse Divinich told Edge Online that stellar reviews on sites like Metacritic and GamePro helped fuel the sales, but EA's seven-month marketing onslaughtwhich included elements like comics, an animated film and an exploratory micrositelikely boosted critics' (and gamers') first impressions. It's all part of a strategy that EA CEO John Riccitello calls "IP cubed", according to Wired, or games with story lines that are so detailed, they can extend into other media.

More after the jump.

The comics launched in March 2008, followed by the No Known Survivors site in August. EA brought in third-parties for both projects and gave them free reign over the look and feel: Ben Templeton (best known for illustrating the 30 Days of Night series) and graphic novelist Antony Johnston developed the comics, and interactive agency Deep Focus handled the microsite, which revealed clues about the characters and storyline, complete with severed fingers as ways for players to mark their progress. Starz' studio Anchor Bay Entertainment produced Dead Space: Downfall, the straight-to-DVD film that came out shortly after the game was released.

When combined, the elements are designed to give players a more complete view of the Dead Space universe than they experience in the game. And given that EA plans to spend more on marketing this year, it will be interesting to see how many mediums they pull in for upcoming new releases, and whether the "IP cubed" strategy will have the same positive impact on sales.

By Tameka Kee