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Bethesda PR VP: Design games to be unique rather than crowdpleasers

'Don’t design the game based around the bullet points you think need to be on the back of the box,' advises Pete Hines, Vice President of PR and Marketing at Bethesda.

Alissa McAloon

January 9, 2017

2 Min Read

In an interview shared by GamesRadar, Bethesda’s VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines spoke about everything from Doom and Prey delays and cancellations, to the studio's future.

Hines' words offer a closer look at the ideas that drive the continued success of both Bethesda's developed and published games, and moreover, the interview contains solid advice from the PR and Marketing Vice President about what he's typically drawn to in game studios and pitches.

Bethesda tends to gravitate toward studios that share the basic philosophy and drive to do things that are different or to try something new, he says.

In Hines’ mind, developers need to create something they’re passionate about, rather than develop a game designed around crowd-pleasing features like multiplayer or co-op gameplay.

When developers would pitch a game centered around "pitching the bullet points on the back of the box," Hines said he'd turn around and offer the following advice: “Here’s what needs to happen. You need to sell just one copy. You need to sell me on the idea of what it is you make. If you can sell me on the idea, I will go sell all the rest of the copies. Just sell me on something you guys are excited or feel passionate about and we’ll figure out how to find the audience. If we think it’s cool, we’ll figure out how to sell that idea to everybody else.”

And though Bethesda has worked more with internal studios in recent years, Hines says his philosophy mostly remains the same. 

“I still think I hold to that approach. I don’t want you to put a feature in the game because you think it’ll sell more copies or it’ll go over well with the sales team. You need to make something that you really believe in, that’s doing something cool or interesting or unique, because if the developer’s really invested in what they’re making, it always comes through.”

About the Author(s)

Alissa McAloon

Publisher, GameDeveloper.com

As the Publisher of Game Developer, Alissa McAloon brings a decade of experience in the video game industry and media. When not working in the world of B2B game journalism, Alissa enjoys spending her time in the worlds of immersive sandbox games or dabbling in the occasional TTRPG.

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