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Sunset Overdrive: The Overlooked Exclusive Part 3 – After The Release October 24, 2016

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Sunset Overdrive: The Overlooked Exclusive.
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The following is the third of a three-part series detailing the announcement, marketing and release of the Xbox One game Sunset Overdrive.  You can read part one here and you can read part two here.

Sunset Overdrive was one of the biggest exclusive titles released on the Xbox One in October 2014. Microsoft had sunk millions of dollars into marketing the new property, but after it launched it unfortunately just wasn’t selling.  As I said in the previous part, slightly over one hundred thousand copies of the game sold at retail in its first week, and the few stores who chose to host midnight releases for the game found their events overwhelmingly underattended.

Press for the game during its development was quite positive, early reviews were mostly positive and Insomniac Games has a decent following of loyal supporters, so why wasn’t the game selling better?  Was the game’s premise just that unappealing to the majority of the gaming public or was something else going on?

I mentioned earlier in this series that the install base of the Xbox One platform was in second place behind the PS4 at this time, but that’s not enough information to paint a full picture about the state of gaming in 2014. The truth is, the Xbox One was in second place because gamers were very angry at Microsoft.  They still resented the Kinect as an expensive gimmick, despite the fact it was no longer being bundled with every new console.  They were also resentful Microsoft was buying so many third-party exclusive games that they preferred would get released on the PS4.  In short, Sunset Overdrive was released on the Xbox One at the worst possible time.

With so much negativity still directed towards the Xbox One platform, if Sunset Overdrive was going to sell, they needed to make it appeal to current Xbox One owners. So what could Microsoft do to convince Xbox gamers to buy Sunset Overdrive?  If the game was getting good reviews, could giving players the chance to play the game for themselves bring up sales?  Unfortunately that was a bit of an issue since Sunset Overdrive had no demo and without a demo, there wasn’t an easy way to get a small piece of the game into gamers’ hands.

Microsoft would need to come up with a new idea to get gamers to try the game and they did.  One month after it was released, Microsoft made the decision to offer Sunset Overdrive as part of an Xbox One Free Weekend.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with an Xbox One Free Weekend, it basically works like a free rental.  During an Xbox One Free Weekend, Microsoft allows anyone with an Xbox One and an internet connection the chance to play a promoted game for a limited time. While this time limit may sound restrictive, there are no restrictions on gameplay and as long as the game was played during the free promotion period you could earn achievements in it.  Heck, once the Free Weekend ends, your savegame could be brought into the full game if you decided to buy it.

The Free Weekend was a moderate success, not only for Sunset Overdrive, but for the Xbox One’s image.  In fact I remember buying the full retail version of the game shortly after the Free Weekend promotion wrapped up.

Insomniac Games continued support for the game throughout the first half of 2015.  These free updates included not only bug fixes and optimizations, they also added entirely new achievements players could unlock without paying for any new content.  On the paid side, they were working on two new DLC expansion packs which would be offered to anyone who bought the game’s Season Pass.  One of the first pieces of content offered with the game’s Season Pass was an exclusive set of four weapons.

The weapons were a lot of fun to mess around with, but they didn’t add that much to the game’s universe. Players hoping to see new single-player game content wouldn’t have to wait much longer. The first DLC expansion was released just in time for Christmas called The Mystery of the Mooil Rig.

The Mystery of the Mooil Rig was a great expansion I recommend playing immediately after completing the game’s main story, although it could be played at any point once it is installed.  It included a huge expansion to the game’s open world environment, all new side missions, and a hilarious story.

The second Sunset Overdrive DLC mission was titled Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines and it added an all-new environment that was teased throughout the main game, the Fizzco Robot Factory.

Shortly after the release of the second DLC expansion pack, Sunset TV wrapped up its production.

The final two-part episode was pretty funny, although if you ask me the series got the best possible sendoff in Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines‘s finale.

A month or two after the release of Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, Microsoft did something really nice for the game’s players, they gave away download codes for the game’s Loyalty Pack to anyone who had played the game before that time.  The Loyalty Pack included costume pieces that were previously only available through retail and digital preorders.  It was a really nice gesture for players, and it convinced me to pick up the game’s Season Pass.

As someone who has played through the game, I thought it was great and I’m shocked Sunset Overdrive isn’t better remembered over a year since it was released. It was addictive as hell to explore the game’s environment searching for collectibles and completing missions. It had a hilarious sense of humor and an art style that set itself apart from every other game on the market.  In short, it is totally worth picking up.

Sunset Overdrive is out now exclusively on the Xbox One.

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