Perhaps in a separate blog post I can write about the nature of marketing as marketing is, sadly, more important to the success of a product than the product itself.
As long as a product meets a certain threshold (let's say in this case, a Metacritic of 80) then its success is largely dependent on a multiplier M (marketing). All this falls apart if you get less than 80.
Now, the case of Fallen Enchantress, from a *marketing* perspective is much like the case of Star Wars: Episode 2. Episode I "The Phantom Menace" was much anticipated. People had extremely high expectations for it. When it failed to deliver, it got creamed by the public. It actually got far lower scores than it would have if expectations weren't so high.
Now, going into Episode II, they had to deal with the legacy of Episode I. When you look at what is said about the Star Wars saga today, you see endless criticism. From a marketing perspective, it means that Lucas was never able to change the narrative about the prequels.
Narrative in marketing is all-powerful. When you only have 500 words to write an article, journalists and editors will tend to focus on writing a narrative.
We have an uphill battle to overcome the narrative on Elemental. The first step was for us to release an early beta of Fallen Enchantress that demonstrated that we were on the right track. That's where we're on now. The question isn't whether FE beta 2 is a great game or not. That can only be determined when it's released. The issue is ensuring the millions of readers who never played WOM but *heard* of Elemental negative aren't given generic media pap on FE (because unlike with WOM, where the narrative was universally positive, the media won't be writing previews on FE that are anywhere as positive as the preview coverage of WOM was, it'll be much more tepid).
Therefore, our job is to make sure the final version is so good that it overcomes the existing Elemental narrative. If Star Wars: Episode 2 had been an insanely great movie, I suspect the disappointment from Episode 1 would have been greatly lessened.
But between now and release, we have to rely on word of mouth from people who have actually *played* the betas to set the narrative. It is our hope that Beta 1/2, while still early, demonstrate without question that the game is not just moving in the right direction but is, for most people, already very fun and on its way to being potentially amazing. Obviously, if someone doesn't feel that way they should say whatever they think is accurate.
War of Magic sold about 1/10th the number of copies of Galactic Civilizations II did and 1/20th the number of Sins of a Solar Empire. So it's not as if there were huge swaths of people who played it. They've only HEARD of it.
Anyway, if you guys think there'd be interest, I can talk about the nature of how marketing works in the games industry. Note: I'm not a marketer. But I've been in this industry for 20 years close up.