Attention is attention. It helps sell a product, regardless of whether the attention is perceived as negative or positive. …right?
When the Attack of the Saints Trailer for Hitman: Absolution hit the Internet , it ticked off quite a few people. But Square Enix director of marketing Cord Smith was surprised at the outcry, primarily because – as he told GamesIndustry.biz – he was in a development "bubble" and didn't see it from an outsider's perspective.
As for the PR angle, is it a good thing? Well, here's Cord's take:
"In general, you'd imagine any controversy provides increased awareness of the game's existence. So if you're just looking from an awareness standpoint, maybe it's helpful in spite of the tone of some of the comments and debates that went on. But I don't think it was something we would want to exploit, that sort of awareness. It's a difficult thing from a public relations side. Do you try to dispel it or provide people with enough context to have a more educated conversation about it? Or do you kind of let it burn out?"
Perhaps there's no clear answer but there's no doubt that the name "Hitman" has become a bit more widespread due to that trailer. Now, will it have an impact on sales…? Perhaps that'll rely more on reviews.
Related Game(s): Hitman: Absolution