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Valve Skipping Ad Agencies With Portal 2

Valve Software's marketing VP Doug Lombardi recently told MCV that the studio plans to do its own marketing for Portal 2 rather than hire an external ad agency. After all, no one knows how to market a game better than the studio who created it, right? Everything else submitted by creative agencies over the past few years have been "pretty close to worthless."

"We’ve had many creative kick-off meetings with agencies over the years, and you’d be shocked by the treatments that have come back," he admitted. "Copycat treatments. Cliché treatments. Treatments that reveal the agency wasn’t listening in the initial meeting."

In many cases, it could be merely a conflict of interpretation. External ad agencies are comprised of illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and other "artists" who spend their day-to-day work hours promoting numerous products and services, and thus use their marketing expertise to submit an ad campaign based on the customer's needs and feedback. Disconnected, they may just not get the "feel" of the product.

Valve, on the other hand, is also comprised of digital and traditional artists who do have a feeling for what they have created. It also make sense that these same artists tap into the soul of the game's overall development and conjure up the perfect ad campaign. It wouldn't be surprising if additional game studios begin to follow suit. However, many developers simply may not have the time. Many big-name publishers do their own advertising in-house.

According to Lombardi, the team spent a good eight straight weeks making its new TV ad for the upcoming game. Previously the team generated a series of successful Valentine's Day-themed online videos which ran back in February.

"With the Portal 2 ad, we play-tested it and were able to make changes during production," he added. "With an agency, those types of tests are too often left to a post-mortem – at which point, the value of those realizations is pretty close to worthless."

MCV said that Valve's TV commercial will be complimented by banners mounted on buses and train station walls in the UK. So far Lombardi hasn't indicated as to what depth the studio plans to advertise here in the States.

Portal 2 is slated to arrive on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC on April 19, 2011.