Only one NPC can explain why Elden Ring, a dense and challenging game, has done so well among casual gamers.

Only one NPC can explain why Elden Ring, a dense and challenging game, has done so well among casual gamers.

Four million copies in one month. There were sales expectations for Ring of Eldenin November 2021. But Bandai Namco had fallen short: the game ended up selling out 12 million in 17 days. And according to the Japanese publisher’s latest financial report, we now know that Hidetaka Miyazaki’s latest works have accumulated 13.4 million at the end of March; making it the best-selling Japanese version in history (excluding Nintendo versions). As an illustration, the revered and well-established Dark Souls series only managed to hit those numbers after the third installment, which came out five years later than the original.

From software signed a double feat with Elden Ring. The first is to beat such a sales record. The second is to have viralized a niche experience. Over the past decade, the studio had earned quite a reputation for creating challenges that were as charismatic as they were difficult; only for veterans, brave or crazy. Surely there’s some sort of psychological reasoning behind lines like “Prepare to die” sneaking around like nothing happened in some marketing strategies in the middle of 2011, but I don’t know because I’m not versed in the subject. What I see is that somehow, Ranni and Blaidd sneaked into Tiktok sing a remix night core of the song The Fox by Ylvis. And it’s like a K-pop fan listening to Infant Annihilator overnight.

How is it possible that in a world where each level is expertly dosed so that no one gets lost, even casual gamers are enjoying a title that doesn’t hesitate to annihilate you before you start the tutorial and then drops you in the middle of nowhere ? ? And what lessons can we learn from it? Well, I think it’s important to be honest and understand that, to begin with, the Hourly by Elden Ring it was fantastic. Not only does this follow on from some of the most successful games in recent history (with particular emphasis on transmitted by blood) guaranteeing the quality of the product to those interested, but it was also launched at the same time free of competitors. The other key triple A of the semester reached the stores before it –Horizon: West forbidden, Dying Light 2 Is Pokemon Legends: Arceus among others of this profile – so that even now it is “easy” to work.

In other words, he had the wind blowing in his favor; but that is not enough to succeed at this level. Especially when you know that the most enthusiastic disapprove of many technical issues, putting off a worried minority of potential buyers. The PC version, which totaled 44% of initial sales in Europe, faced serious stuttering and limitations that still plague the game’s global reviews on Steam. It may not look like it, but this section was enough to discredit other great past releases such as New world on the same platform. That Elden Ring did not cost so much is something which, in my opinion, can be explained by the analysis of a very precise event: our first meeting with the NPC Varre at the start of the adventure.

Ring of Elden

Elden Ring’s technical issues marred its initial reception among Steam users.

I know I just let out a rather odd statement. Let me explain. The developers of the triple A scene have very internalized that the first contact with a video game, this is very important. From an ex from Gears of War, 90% of players who try PvP mode leave it permanently if they do not get any kills during their first game. This also explains that TES V Skyrim having such a cinematic start or having a companion NPC in the first dungeon, for example. But Elden Ring doesn’t feel guided at all, does it? You come out of this initial dump and the first thing you see when you open the door is a huge section of Necrolimbo. The thing is, unbeknownst to you, the game is visual guidance at all times: the world is arranged in such a way that the things you are supposed to do first are closer, and the others are further away; all in such a visual way that it’s easy to reach Stormshroud Fortress by following any path.

And of all these things, the most immediate is the meeting with Varré. In front, next to the first lost grace. Safety pin. A few lines of dialogue are enough for him to put you in the situation. Who are you, where are you going, how can you orient yourself. Not only that, but it also drops one of worst taunts never read in a video game: “you, I’m afraid, are without a maiden“. Being without a wife is a chore in the Midlands, but on the other side of the screen it also goes deep with any child. Let’s see, an NPC just told me I’m alone; it hurts , but I have And I think anyone who’s come across this line, even if it’s because someone shared it on the internet, will think the same thing, this simple interaction, which surely wouldn’t have been considered a meme between screenwriters (or maybe yes, dare not bet) has inspired myriad pieces of fan-art and mega mind memes which literally flooded social networks during the game’s first week of life.

Elden Ring (FromSoftware)

Varré is the logical first visit offered by Elden Ring, but not the only one.

Varré is an open door to the strange and obscure characters of FromSoftware

With Varré, the talents under Miyazaki managed to guide the player without taking him by the hand (he guides you, without solving anything for you) but at the same time they made him discover the attraction that exists in the offbeat characters that FromSoftware makes of . Any Dark Souls or Bloodborne connoisseur will tell you about the brutal curiosities behind their universes, but New Arrivals They are usually very lost. Elden Ring, on the other hand, was able to bring these rare things to everyone through a mix of strategy and luck. It’s easy to sympathize with Varré’s grace even if you don’t have the game yet, and even if you’re not going to buy it just for that, at least you’re more inclined to find out what’s going on in it. world because it has validation from many other network users who liked it. The battle against Radahn or the chest trap that takes you to Caelid are other examples of how even occasional users they can sympathize with “out of the ordinary” things, which sometimes aren’t even fair, but at least they elicit strong feelings for or against anything and that’s already more than most games offer “jack , knight and king”.

Call it an NPC lashing out at you or a boss doing a move no one expected, it doesn’t matter: at the end of the day, the bottom line is that being part of those discoveries, memes, community efforts or the unexpected events are fun for everyone, and it sells – and more importantly, it grows emotional ties powerful. I doubt that a very high percentage of players have managed to defeat Malenia because it is one of the bosses with the highest level in the whole game, but I am very clear that at least in the West, rare is the one who do not know the legend of Let Me Solo Her That much. Now it’s time to find out if other big publishers in the video game industry are getting the right message: gamers like to be part of the discovery of things. it involves a little fewer waypoints, bookmarks and travel diaries, in exchange for a little more Varré. Characters that are funny and worth talking to, even if it’s because they bother us or because they’re rare. I don’t think there’s a better marketing tool than Elden Ring: people think they’re having a good time.

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