The War on Horror

Launched in May 2011, the War on Horror Facebook application clocked up in excess of 40,000 plays in the first 6 weeks, in addition to an increase in FB Likes of 160,000 for the Resident Evil Facebook page.

The launch of a new game in the Resident Evil series is a major event not only for Capcom, but also for the video gaming community as a whole, who have followed the franchise over its fifteen-year history. Far from being a run of mill campaign for the latest sequel in an established series, this launch was to be particularly demanding, even by video game standards. What made this different was that the game, Resident Evil: Mercenaries, was the first in the series to be released on Nintendo’s brand new 3DS console. The launch faced a number of obstacles to overcome.

The challenges were numerous. This was the first Resident Evil game to be launched on a handheld device; an 18-certificate title being released on a console seen primarily as being for the younger end of the market. Secondly, the game itself was a huge departure for the series as it focused its gameplay on action rather than the slow and steady build-up of horror. Head First, Capcom’s ad agency created a campaign called “The War On Horror,” and was designed to introduce the game to new and old fans alike by enabling users to experience (through social media channels) the style and tone which the game would deliver.

A key part of the campaign was a Facebook game designed to convey the fun and immediacy of the product to existing horror fans and a broader audience simultaneously. Head First asked us to help them build the game. Given the project’s exciting nature and the rich history of the franchise, it was a pleasure to be involved in the campaign and we jumped at the chance to work with them.

We were asked to build a target practice based shooting game which involved a user’s friends images. This would generate a high sharing value, prompting users to both participate and re-distribute it in order for it to reach a much wider audience than the already game-savvy Resident Evil fan base.

The game that we built served as the nucleus of the campaign behind Mercenaries, providing an interface which allowed Facebook users to play, challenge their friends and to record and view their scores. It was designed and built with minimal prohibitive steps between the user clicking on the initial link and playing the game in order for it to be easy to pick up and play. This approach laid the foundations for the game to be rapidly shared across the social network. The intention was that the campaign would get passed across the internet and provide the client with levels of exposure far exceeding the scope of the initial campaign itself.

The campaign helped Resident Evil: The Mercenaries become a huge success for Capcom, playing a crucial role in its mission to break out on to new consoles. In addition to this it has also become a flagship product for Nintendo, for which it became a cornerstone title on the new 3DS console. The game served to up-age a format which had previously had an audience mainly consisting of children and adolescents. This had the effect of growing the brand by expanding the user base into more casual gamers, while at the same time retaining Resident Evil’s core audience.

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