Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ubisoft's Smart Let's Dance Viral Campaign

This is just bloody brilliant.  Ubisoft is going viral to promote their newest release, Just Dance.  The main website is completely filled with videos, nearly all of which are Youtube videos of players dancing away, looking goofy, and having the time of their lives.  People can also submit their own videos for weekly $1,000 prizes, beginning January 2010.  It's a terrific design and a smart idea.

I get the impression that Ubisoft is very confident in this title.  You can see it in the bold cover design, with the game's visual style, and with these viral Youtube videos.  The challenges facing third-party developers on Nintendo Wii are widely known, and it's especially challenging to design games for the new Expanded Customer market.  Who are these people?  Are they kids or parents?  Have they ever played video games before?  Should the game follow arcade rules or risk/reward, and focus on high scores?  Is that important?  Or should we focus on just having fun?

Notice that none of these videos show professional dancers, or the kind of celebrities you find on "So You Can Think You Can Dance?"  We're seeing everyday, ordinary people, young and old.  Most of them can barely keep a beat, and most of them would never "win" any traditional video game.

None of that matters.  Everyone is having the time of their lives.  Everyone is cutting loose, dancing like children, laughing, playing, and sharing their lives with one another.  This is the experience that Just Dance promises, no more and no less.  And by these videos, it's a rousing success.

This is the very reason Nintendo Wii exists.  It brings us back to the very roots of video games, to that bar where Nolan Bushnell debuted Pong in 1972.  He wanted to create something that would bring friends and lovers together.  That's why Pong only had one spinning knob to play the game; the video game would never dominate your lives, but enhance it.

I think Ubisoft has found a winning formula in Just Dance.  I very nearly bought this game for Marcee for Christmas, and I was only stopped because I had to buy Wii Sports Resort and New Super Mario Bros. first.  As soon as I get some spare money, however, watch out.  Everyone I know who has a Wii is getting one.

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