The basic premise of THQ's prospective 'Call of Duty-killer' Homefront is well-established: in a dystopian near-future scenario, a unified Korea has embarked on an expansionist agenda. Weakened by repeated financial crises and being over-committed in the Middle East, America is attacked by Korean forces after an EMP blast gives them a surprise tactical advantage. The game's events begin after the initial shockwave of the invasion, when enemy forces are beginning to consolidate their hold on the civilian population (often by rank exterminations) and a resistance movement is burgeoning. It's an intriguing premise and the game's marketing is firing on all cylinders: leveraging the enthusiast press, social media, and posting numerous videos on YouTube.
Except, apparently, the marketing is not performing to THQ's expectations. Homefront is a brand-new intellectual property launching on March 15th, after several of 2011's biggest releases have already hit (Killzone 3, Bulletstorm and Dragon Age 2). Complicating matters is that developer Kaos Studios is trying to appeal to very different sides of the same 'military FPS' genre: videos and preview events suggest the game has the light gunplay of Call of Duty but tries to bring the more tactical multiplayer style of the Battlefield franchise and astute gamers are waiting on the sidelines to see how it will all hold together in the end.
According to HULIQ's own data, pre-orders of Homefront remain weak for a game so close to its release date. While it is true that they are registering (mainly for the Xbox 360 version), they have not seen the normal uptick other titles get in the last several weeks before release. THQ appears to be in a 'wait and see' approach with console sales, which will likely be respectable for a brand-new franchise. On the other hand, other moves being made by the company smack of desperation in trying to drive early sales. The company recently revealed that users of the Steam digital store for PC games will get Metro 2033 for free when they pre-purchase Homefront.
In a recent tweet, THQ just upped the ante with an even better deal. Gamers curious about the game and OnLive's streaming video game service will get a free OnLive micro-console and a digital copy of Metro 2033 when they pre-order Homefront. Though OnLive is no doubt a key financial partner in this promotion in an effort to bolster sales of their own device and service, it's almost too good of a deal. Yes, gamers will have to chip in for shipping and taxes, but is THQ that desperate to generate interest Homefront?
The argument, of course, can cut just as easily the other way: is OnLive getting that desperate to promote its products?