Agents of Mayhem is Volition’s next game. You know, the Saints Row developers? It’s a similarly over-the-top action adventure game where people explore an open world with a team of three agents they put together. But it’s really most notable for its ad campaign. Which some might think is trying too hard. (Emphasis on the hard part, which you’ll see in a moment.)
Rather than go with a rather normal ad campaign, where characters are gradually introduced with trailers and the focus is on the actual gameplay, Volition is taking a different approach. It is getting down and dirty. It’s following adages like “Sex sells!” It’s pushing familiar faces too frequently. Instead of the subtle wink-nod, it’s shoving Johnny Gat down our throats. It might be easy to mistake it all as being too much to handle.
The most recent marketing decision is likely the one that caught the most people’s attention. A running gag in Agent of Mayhem is that Hollywood, one of the possible agents, is an actor who’s done porn. To promote the game, an animated “trailer” showing Hollywood in-character in one of said movies, was released alongside a phony press release saying the adult video was leaked to YouPorn and MAYHEM was investigating to see where the tape came from and if it did indeed show Hollywood.
Some might say this is going too far. It’s going along with a joke people aren’t getting or trying to draw attention away from the fact that we aren’t seeing much Agents of Mayhem gameplay. It is true that Volition should be showing us more of the game right now. Not having as much gameplay footage or demo opportunities could make people have questions about the actual quality of the game. At the same time, this is an example of leaning hard into what Agents of Mayhem is all about. It is campy and goes places. It is meant to have humor that pushes people. In which case, someone could say this video is doing exactly what needs to be done.
Then, there’s the Johnny Gat extravaganza. He’s the GameStop pre-order DLC that will eventually be sold separately. The trailer introducing him was over a minute long, including a song parody of Queen’s “Flash.” Naturally, with “Gat” replacing the “Flash” parts of the song. There was a little bit of gameplay, but mainly it kept harping on how amazing and incredible Gat is.
Which again may seem like overkill. After all, Volition used that to try and sell the Saints Row IV standalone expansion, appropriately called Gat Out of Hell. Anytime anything even somewhat related to Saints Row appears, Gat eventually appears. It feels like overkill. But, just like with the fake YouPorn video, it’s something that would probably leave many people disappointed if it didn’t happen. People expect that sort of over-the-top nature. Gat himself is a critique of big action stars and larger than life personas, so what better way to keep that up than by playing him up at every opportunity.
Volition likes to go over the top with their games. That means marketing needs to be just as outrageous. While such bravado could be seen as annoying or covering for overall game quality, it also feels like it is warranted when it comes to games like Agents of Mayhem. It is going to be a ridiculous kind of game, and the marketing should match.