Why Bethesda used a dark, digital board game to promote Nazi-shooter Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Du Hast Strife weekly board game

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a hyper-violent video game set in 1960s Nazi-occupied America. It serves as a modern update to a franchise grounded in the infancy of the first-person-shooter genre. As part of a vast campaign, marketing agency Midnight Oil is promoting publisher Bethesda’s retail partnership with Gamestop using an intriguing digital board game, an experience designed to attract fans on a weekly basis in the run up to launch.

Midnight Oil was tasked with driving education about the game’s world with an alluring digital execution, Christy Hayes, account director at Midnight Oil, told The Drum about how interactive board game, Du Hast Strife, came to be.

Hayes and the team decided upon a classic board game parody to teach users about a whole set of new “Germerican” customs and rules – a dark comedy, Nazi monopoly. Players are invited to roll the dice on a weekly basis with the allure of prizes like custom game consoles, Collector’s Editions of the game, GameStop gift cards, and the grand prize, a 10-day European trip.

Additionally, users also get access to game content, while also being within reach of pre-order portals on GameStop.

Hayes said: “We split the game-board into an eight week experience where fans spin the wheel of mandatory fun (a wheel with icons representing the new Germanic culture) and advance through the board while receiving a new “Germerican" lesson each week. We also give participants a chance to win weekly prizes, sharable social graphics and entries into a sweepstakes.

To participate, US users had to register through social media or with email, establishing a useful point of contact for the publisher and its retail partner.

Anette Hughes, creative director pitched in too, telling how the partnership with retailer GameSpot was fleshed out. “Our goals were to help Betheseda secure incremental retail co-op support for the program - specifically with GameStop - to drive program engagement. To meet these goals, we delivered the week-over-week content and additional sweepstakes entries for visiting a GameStop store with a Bethesda game purchase or pre-order.”

Elements from the game were included, a fleshed out look at the ruthless Panzerhund and more, all building upon the dark comedy tone set in place by the plaudited trailer that parodies 50s TV as it would appear in a fascist, authoritarian state.

The project was in the works for five months and will run for eight weeks.

John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

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