Saving Alan Wake

A recent number of articles have come to light making the bold assumption that Alan Wake has failed, fizzled, or is floundering in a sea of triple A titles.  Remedy itself blames the release window in which Alan Wake was released for sub-par sales figures.  Let’s just get one thing straight.  For the most part, RoH loves Alan Wake.  It’s one of the best new IPs the survival horror genre has to offer, despite some of the annoying quirks it has, we love it regardless.  But with flat sales figures, the possibility of more games like Alan Wake ever being released is flat-lining as well.  Why take a chance on something that doesn’t sell?  Why innovate?

You can take a look at RoH’s official review, and our in-depth section as well.  After we’ve been given a good time to fully absorb the game, we conclude that it’s a fun game.  It’s got an outstanding storyline and some unique game play mechanics.  But in the end, like most games, the game isn’t perfect, but does that mean it’s a fail?

The reasons many have claimed that Alan Wake hasn’t been excelling in the sales departments include…

Xbox 360 Exclusivity

While the game was originally intended to be released for both the Xbox 360 and the PC, Remedy and Microsoft cut development for the PC mere months before the game was released.  Their reasoning was that there’s a time and a place for everything—and Alan Wake did not belong on the computer monitor and would ‘fit’ the 360 atmosphere better.

Cutting out the PC was undoubtedly the first nail in Alan Wake’s proverbial coffin.  Halting development for PC meant not only were Remedy and MS lobbing off one foot with sales, they were potentially dishing out a double-whammy against themselves.


This doesn’t count as Alan Wake on the PC…

How?  Consider this—Direct download services such as Steam and D2D help effectively eliminate the costs of physical media.  Cases, discs, manuals, they don’t need to be produced.  Sure, a portion of those proceeds might go to the download service itself, but there were a lot of people ready to buy the game already, despite the long development time!  That means that more people have your game in their system.  More people would be willing to tell their friends about it, more friends would be willing to purchase the game…

Instead, MS and Remedy (we have a feeling it was more MS’s doing) chose to cut off both feet and keep Alan Wake exclusive to the Xbox 360.  A system whose best games are shooters and games with extensive online components—and let’s be honest, Alan Wake is neither of those things.

And if you think that download-only games are just a fad, take a look at people who have their entire music collections purchased through iTunes, their iPhone and iPod games and movies through iTunes.  You can back these up, at your own expense, but people still use it as an easy, convenient and cheap way of getting their tunes on.

One could say that AW could have sold better on the PS3, where there are more ‘unique’ IPs.  Heavy Rain sold well, and it also is not a shooter, nor does it have an extensive online component.  God of War 3 has neither….you see where we’re going with this, right?  A smaller developer, releasing a new IP with console exclusivity in mind?  Risky move, and so far it hasn’t paid off.

So How can This be Fixed?

This is something that can be addressed at both ends.  The choice is yours, but if you’re one of those people that own an Xbox and are getting a little tired of the same old crap being released on the console year after year, then take a chance on Alan Wake.  Sure we could just come out and say “Buy Alan Wake, dammit!” but that would be ignorant of us.  We understand that the survival horror genre has a very limited appeal already, and if you’re already here and have been a fan of the site for any time at all, you’ll know that our majority opinion is that this is only a game worthy of your time not a game that is worth plunking down a good amount of money to purchase a console with all of the fun stuff that goes with it.

And that puts the onus on Microsoft and Remedy to fix this one.  We’re not expecting Alan Wake to show up on the PS3, but before it got canned, we were under the impression that the PC version was…close to completion.  We could be wrong, but there might just somewhere be sitting the code for a PC port just waiting to be finished.

It’s quite common that PC ports are released after their console counterparts.  This isn’t such a bad thing, it would definitely give Remedy time to polish and fine-tune Alan Wake for PC audiences.  Provided that Alan Wake would go the route of Resident Evil 5 and be outstanding on the PC.  Maybe introduce it at a discounted rate to get the game in more people’s systems?

Forever and a Day Development Time

In total, Alan Wake took around nine years to develop.  Apparently that’s five years longer than most games.  The game went through a number of major changes before a final product was decided upon and built up from there.  God only knows how many times the game was reworked from the bottom up, what kinds of things were removed for longevity’s sake, or just for the sake of keeping with the story.  Who knows what kind of product we might have been playing if the game had been released four years ago?  Hmm…why exactly is this a bad thing?

Missing Scene
This scene was removed from the final game.  Or might have just been promotional material.
But look!  Isn’t that Clay Steward in the background?  Could he have played a larger part in the game?

Wouldn’t you rather have a game that the developers felt was perfect, rather than a game rushed out before all of the bugs were hammered out?   The only reason we’re including this in here is because it’s been brought up by some forumites (not on this site of course).  Really, the amount of detail that has gone into the making of Alan Wake is enough to make your jaw drop.  Actual constellations in the sky relative to the location it takes place in, damn!  I don’t even remember seeing stars in Dead Space.

Oh, wait…

How Can this be Fixed?

Not much you can do about what’s already been done, and how long it took.  Just know that the developers went through an extraordinarily long time on this game so the final product can be perfect.  When you instead use your hard-earned cash to go out and get the same game you played last year, it makes them cry.  Hell, it makes us cry.

Advertising!

Perhaps it’s just this writer, but where I live, I don’t get that many video game advertisements on television.  The only place I actually see them are online, on my game console, or at my local game store, or on the Internet.  So needless to say, those must be the best places to advertise games, because they’re already hitting the target audience.  So…where was Alan Wake?

Alan Wake was drowned in a sea of advertisements for Red Dead Redemption and other top-notch titles that were on the verge of release, or had already been released.  Some folks have reported seeing adverts for other games in subway stations, on the sides of buses and on television.  There had to have been plenty of opportunity for Alan Wake to be advertised here.  How else did they expect to sell a game with such little advertising?

Most of the advertising that Alan Wake had was…either outdated, non-existent, or targeted at the wrong audience.  Point your browser over to Google Images, and do a search for Alan Wake.  At the time of release, a good 90% of images that appeared on the first page were more than a year old.  Hell, some of them were two to three years old.  All of them showed something similar too—Alan’s face…or the back of his head looking at stunning imagery.  By the looks of these images, you’d think Alan Wake was a photographer (he’s not, by the way).


This image is from 2009.  It’s also one of the first images that comes up on a Google Image Search

In the weeks leading up to Alan Wake’s release, several game play videos had been released.  This continued, on and on until by the time the game was actually released, there was probably a good 40 minutes of game play video found on the net.  Not only is this a good way to blow your resources…resources that could have been better used for better advertising, it’s a great way to give away the story of the game, thereby ruining a small piece of it.

Also introduced in the weeks leading up to release was the Bright Falls live-action miniseries.  Bright Falls is a bit of a prequel of Alan Wake, getting the player psyched up for what they’ve been waiting for, forever!  A live-action miniseries is a great way to advertise your game, but we really wonder how many people were actually turned onto the game through Bright Falls alone.  Whether it was anything substantial, or just another teaser for people already interested in the game?  It was available exclusively through the Xbox Live marketplace (for free), but you could still find it elsewhere.

How can we fix this?

Well Remedy, it’s not too late to advertise.  One of the video game adverts that I did see happened to be for God of War 3, and that was only a week ago.  And when was GOW3 released?  A nice advertising blitz just in time for the release of The Signal could definitely bolster sales.

Oh yeah, and maybe you could combine an advertising blitz with a stellar PC port?  You know, the way it was originally meant to be?……….Pretty please?

Final Note

Any survival horror game is a hard sell.  A survival horror game with limited advertising that’s a console exclusive is an even harder sell.  While much of this cannot be changed, and we can’t change your opinion on a game you might have already played or are simply not interested in, we strongly encourage you to at least give Alan Wake a try.  You don’t even need to buy the Collector’s Edition for fear that you’re missing out on the story.  RoH has you covered with our in-depth section!

In a world where your wallet speaks louder than you do, there’s one clear way you can voice your opinion.  Like we mentioned before, if you’re tired of seeing the same-old, same-old released year after year, we need to stop buying the same-old, same-old year after year.  When we do that, we’re left with nothing but generic shooters, Madden games and Resident Evil 4 ports.  As it stands, if Alan Wake 1 doesn’t sell, what’s the sense in creating an Alan Wake 2?

Dammit!  We want to see Alan Wake 2!

–jeeves86

  • TheDovCreed

    They should have thought that before they decided
    to make the game explosive for xbox(muhahahaha)
    beside i don’t think there is any reason to save alan wake

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  • http://www.relyonhorror.com Dusk Golem

    I’d like to point out the console it appears on was Microsoft’s decision, not Remedy, since they were the Publisher.

  • Matthew

    I would rather let the survival-horror genre die off then purchase a game I have no interest in playing.

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    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  • http://www.relyonhorror.com jeeves86

    Yikes, seems like I don’t have a lot of support on this one. It’s a shame to see a unique game fail, especially when it’s so much different from all the other stuff out there. Oh well, hindsight is certainly 20/20.

  • Beatwolf

    im with you jeeves.. liked it as well.. would like to see a sequel but thought the way it all ended was a bit convoluted though.

  • buffyvssatan

    I don’t have an Xbox 360. I was waiting for more horror titles to show up on it, but with Alan Wake and Left for Dead 1 and 2, I think it’s time!

  • Vic 2.0

    Phenomenal game.