Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Game Dev Quote of the Week: Divinely Inspired Marketing Edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 26, 2014

Divine_divinity_coverAs I’ve become a little bit of a Larian fanboy, I found myself looking up more information on the Divinity series. It was years before I tried the original game. Try as I might, the name “Divine Divinity” sounded absolutely ridiculous, and in a totally lame display of judging a book by its cover, I assumed that the stupid title revealed a foreign company that had poor grasp of English, and a poor grasp of what would make a good game.

Now, I should know better. I’ve worked with publishers before. I’d heard how the publishers had dictated many elements of the gameplay to Larian. Going back recently and doing a tiny bit of research, I discovered this story, from Larian itself:

“Long story short – contract had Divinity: The Sword of Lies in it. Publisher revised it to Divinity: The Sword of Lies (working title). The day the contract was signed, we were informed the new name was going to be Divine Divinity, courtesy of the CEO who just made tons of cash with Sudden Strike and now figured that any new title needed to have an alliteration in it, or so we were told.

“We told them that was a stupid idea. They didn’t like us telling them it was a stupid idea and they were also the ones checking our milestones so eventually we had to shut up, especially when inevitably we were late with a particular milestone. End of story, the person who came up with it indeed had poor taste in names and I agree that it probably cost us a lot of sales – most people thought it was a porn game.”

Divinity: Sword of Lies would have been a pretty cool title. Maybe not one that attracted me to the game, but certainly not one that would make me dismiss it. I can’t say the title cost them a sale, but I can’t say it didn’t.

But now you know the secrets of 80% of the game marketing gurus out there. I’ve known a handful of pretty sharp ones, but at least in the 90s when I was more closely involved in that side of things, this was exactly how things ran. One more reason to be happy about the indie revolution. Sometimes its nice, in the midst of the crap we have to deal with now, to remember just how much crap we left behind.

So now, I’m sorry, Larian, for assuming you were responsible for the crappy title. I knew you had to make compromises based on publisher demands and budgetary constraints in other areas, so I should have given you the benefit of the doubt.

Filed Under: Quote of the Week - Comments: 7 Comments to Read

  • Anon said,

    Jep, “Sword of Lies” would have been a better name – whatever that means, but who argues fantasy titles since “Lord of the Rings”, right?

    However, I never thought ‘Divine Divinity’ sounded like a porn name. It just sounds “childish” and unimaginative. Of all alliterations this must be the worst one possible.

    Back then DD was quite popular in Germany among RPG-fans, though, and the game critics also liked it.

    I totally believe the ‘Sudden Strike’ story but if this title was successful then it was *despite* its name and not because of it as it’s a cheap name that would fit many cheap action B-flicks (like the Rambo-knockoffs).

    But then again the publisher was perhaps right after all:
    Divine Divinity was so successful that it was able to establish a franchise despite its silly name, too… 😉

    Or perhaps most gamers are like myself and simply give a shit about game titles and box covers?

  • Dave LeCompte said,

    How many minutes of contemplation would have been necessary to get something alliterative and less vacuous? Deadly Divinity, Disruptive Divinity, Divinity Death Dealers, Dread Pirate Divinity, Dragon Divinity, Double Divinity, Daring Divinity, Dastardly Divinity, Damaged Divinity, Divinity Deconstructed – seems like any of those would have been better than what they went with.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I just remember dismissing it out-of-hand when I heard the name… which I *COMPLETELY AGREE* was stupid of me. In retrospect, I would love to go back to my younger self and smack him and say, “Pay attention, dude!”

    But better late than never. Like way too many games these days, I haven’t finished any of the Divine series yet.

  • Cuthalion said,

    See, if he wanted alliter– oh, I see Dave has suggested several already. Well, they could have kept the same title, but thesaurusized into alliteration!

    Divinity: Dagger of Deception

    I’m highly amused to learn that the bad title wasn’t because non-native speakers didn’t realize how weird redundancy sounds in English, but that it was in fact executive meddling. Wow.

  • WhineAboutGames said,

    That was my reaction to the game from its title when I first heard it – that it was at best completely stupid and cheesy, and at worst a mangled mass of Engrish.

    I can’t remember if I’ve actually played it by now or not sadly. I think I may have eventually gotten at least a demo or something?

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    I’m ashamed to say I too dismissed all the games because of the name “Divine Divinity”. I thought it was beyond stupid, so I never picked up the game or its sequels. I finally did get the new game, but I STILL almost didn’t, because I knew it was a sequel to that ‘stupid name’ game. I’m glad I bought it, but even with a name change, I can tell you right now that it cost them multiple games worth of sales to me personally.

  • Modran said,

    Same here. Luckily, a friend bought it despite the name, and I’ll buy it as soon as another friend is available to play it.