The somewhat controversial, heavily emotional "Family" trailer for Dead Island caused a great deal of reaction and discussion when the video was released, but according to Deep Silver executive producer Guido Eickmeyer, it ultimately did not help the game garner 4M sales across three platforms.
Instead, he states, it was the co-op gameplay.
Eickmeyer points out to the fact that the game did not have a rush of sales at launch as evidence: "We sold them over a long time. It was a continuous sales curve," he notes.
In addition, ultimately, the family in the trailer had nothing to do with the story, save finding them dead in their hotel room in a "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" situation. There was, however, pressure to have them be in the game in a meaningful way.
"People were insisting we have to go on that direction -- we have to have a game like the trailer," Eickmeyer related, explaining that "doing scripted story games requires a ton of money. Our answer was, well, no. We don't have to, because our resources can't do it. We can't do a game like the trailer."
Instead the developers went the route of an open world game with procedural AI, while encouraging player co-operation. It worked.
"This is why people are buying it months later; this is why people love the game; this is why we have great reviews from users. It is the most exciting co-op experience that is on the market," Eickmeyer beamed, nothing players have played 6,500 years worth of co-op so far.
The lesson is, according to the exec producer, Dead Silver showed how smaller publishers could compete with the big boys.
"We won against competition with huge budgets," Eickmeyer noted. "We beat the guys with the big money and with a lot of experience. If you have some talents, work on those talents -- don't try to put them in a direction or a system they don't flourish in."
"Take what you have as resources, and try to make something like that, rather than trying to have some overarching idea that you're not going to make anything with," he concluded.