How Hi-Fi Rush Found Success Despite Zero Marketing

Even with the lack of hype & awareness, Hi-Fi Rush managed to take us all by storm.

Story Highlights

  • The lack of passion and creativity is why modern video games often fail or don’t meet expectations.
  • Marketing isn’t a defining factor when it comes to the success of a product. Quality is of the utmost importance. 
  • Companies focus too heavily on singular aspects such as cutting-edge graphics or “unique” live-service elements. This is the opposite of what needs to be done.

Video games are a form of art. While many would disagree with that statement, the medium feeds off of a person’s imagination and creativity.

Without those elements, I’m sure you know that all we would get is bland and mediocre garbage. There have been way too many examples at this point where a game just doesn’t deliver anything.

The power to think and imagine technically has no limits. People have come up with some crazy ideas on both sides of the spectrum, even outside of the gaming industry.

This shows that the possibilities are endless, yet, in order to explore said possibilities, you need passion and drive. If a man can go to the moon, making a good game shouldn’t really be a problem.

Yet a problem it is. Focusing on everything other than the core aspect of a video game in order to make the most money possible and please investors, gaming has lost a lot of its flair.

From big-budget marketing to unnecessary microtransactions, the shift in focus is quite obvious. People have forgotten how word spreads, especially when something is so good that it just organically grows and spreads.

We have had many examples opposing this new gaming state in the last year, such as Elden Ring & Stray. Now, Hi-Fi Rush has joined their ranks too. While it’s nothing unique or groundbreaking, Hi-Fi Rush has set itself apart from the competition by embracing the nature of gaming and demonstrating creativity and passion.

Why Creativity Is Crucial

Books are special, and there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way. There’s a reason for that, and that is because a book stimulates the reader’s mind.

Their brain is free to wander and visualize the content of the book in an entirely different space. This element that is exclusive to a book is fully experienced due to the creative abundance that’s inside of us.

Bringing that image from inside your mind and portraying it on a screen, something that you can visually and physically experience, is a pretty extreme achievement. When executed well, it can give some pretty great results. That’s something Hi-Fi Rush has achieved.

The point I want to make here first is about the presentation of this game. The way it presents itself right from the start pulls you in as a player. It piques your curiosity and makes you want to see more. The more you see, the more you end up wanting to experience it. One of the ways it does this is through its setting.

A great example is Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Honestly, that game, along with Web of Shadows, was a breath of fresh air. The visual presentation of the former, along with the four distinct art styles, added a lot of variety that meshed well together. Its sequel, Edge of Time, lacked this charm, and we all know how that went.

It’s similar to a sales pitch. If the first thirty seconds of your title aren’t captivating, it’s not gonna pull the audience. There are a lot of ways to achieve this, but these days it’s often boiled down to flashy graphics and empty promises that most developers fail to deliver on.

Hi-Fi Rush doesn’t suffer from this simply because it didn’t do anything like that. It isn’t groundbreaking or the first of its kind. The developers wanted to make this game. They wanted people to play it and have fun. This drive and passion are what fueled the project, and that’s what makes it special. 

Hi-Fi Rush Is Visually Appealing

I want to preface this section by saying that even something that is broken can be beautiful. Elden Ring came out last year. Its world, The Lands Between, was broken. As a result of The Shattering and the fall of The Golden Order, that world was broken. Funnily enough, the game was also broken on launch, especially the PC port.

Yet despite its world that was a shell of its former self and the questionable launch state, that game was beautiful to look at and a massive success.

Keep in mind that Elden Ring didn’t break new ground in graphical technology, yet it was a marvel. You can say something along those lines for God of War Ragnarok as well. What does this mean? It means that you don’t need flashy tech to achieve appealing visuals and a sense of scale.

Futrure Rockstar Chai and 808 (Hi-Fi Rush)
Futrure Rockstar Chai and 808 (Hi-Fi Rush)

Look at Forspoken, big-budgeted and powered by the Luminous Engine. Still, it looks inferior to Final Fantasy XV in every way possible. And the obvious visual downgrade from its reveal in 2020 as Project Athia.

In contrast, Hi-Fi Rush doesn’t chase these things. It knows what it wants to do, and it achieves it. At a glance, you can tell it’s good. It doesn’t go after photorealism or fancy ray-traced puddles.

Neither of those two things is inherently bad. It looks great when done right, but most developers focus on this at the expense of what really matters.

Anyone who says that graphics are the only thing that matters in games or what should be prioritized above all is objectively wrong. Graphics alone don’t make the game, and they won’t sustain it either. If that were the case, games like Triange Strategy or Octopath Traveler would have zero demand.

What matters the most is the final product, that’s the amalgamation of story, gameplay, music, art direction, performance, and graphics.

Many games this past year have achieved this, and Hi-Fi Rush is one of the first games this year to achieve it. A big reason why the word spread so fast is the fact that it was available on Game Pass on day one.

Marketing Can Potentially Be A Double-Edged Sword

The point of marketing is to increase awareness of your product. To ensure that people know of its existence and are able to see what it’s bringing to the table. This allows them to consider purchasing the said product, thereby resulting in the success of the campaign.

But what if the product isn’t up to standard? If the product isn’t ready to be released or if it doesn’t appeal to the audience, it would garner negative attention rather than the opposite. One can argue that this would cause people to see where the product ends up and thus drive sales, but the opposite can be true as well.

If a game isn’t good, it won’t sell. No matter how graphically advanced it is or how popular the IP is, if it’s bad, it will not sell. Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 is another great example of this.

Corporate arrogance and focus on cutting-edge graphics led to the downfall of that game. However, it was saved by people with passion. The story’s been told many times, and it all comes down to one simple fact – make a good game.

Marketing is definitely an important factor, or at least getting the word out. A good chunk of the reason why Hi-Fi Rush found its success is that it was announced at the Direct. It wasn’t marketed…no. It was announced. Tons of people tuned into that show and saw the trailer. But the rest of it was entirely the game itself.

The game’s quality is what carried it to its success. People enjoyed playing this new rhythm action game and it clearly shows. Metacritic has an overwhelming number of user ratings on both PC and XBOX. This speaks volumes regarding the impression left by Hi-Fi Rush. 

In contrast, Forspoken was fairly marketed. Yet, it ultimately failed to deliver. It’s normal and possible to enjoy a mediocre game, but that does not change the facts.

The Cause of Success

There are several examples where marketing was extremely beneficial. One of them is 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. This title changed the landscape of Spider-Man games, and for good reason.

Another example is Elden Ring and, of course, God of War Ragnarok. I would also like to mention Stray, but I believe we can agree that it was all about the cats with this one.

All of these games were major success stories regardless of the marketing factor. At the end of the day, though, what made them a success was their substance—they were great games.

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Najam Ul Hassan is a News Reporter on eXputer who enjoys investing hours in his favorite video game titles. When he’s not playing games, he’s practicing Journalism. He began his career on eXputer after combining his limitless love of video games and all things geek with his considerable writing experience. He has been cited numerous times by several noteworthy publications and sites such as Game Rant, Yahoo, PlayStation LifeStyle, VGC, VG247, TheGamer, among others. Experience: 2+ Years || Education: Masters in Mass Media Communication || Written 300+ News Stories.

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