I’ve been playing, reading and enjoying The Night Circus for about two weeks now. It’s a free browser-based game which is used to promote a fantasy book also called “The Night Circus” written by new author Erin Morgenstern. I came across the game in something of a cross referral from Betterblog, the blog of Failbetter Games, the company which brought you Echo Bazaar.
And my verdict after playing through four performances of the mystical Night Circus is: Play the Night Circus. Let yourself be drawn into a world of black and white, with mysteries wherever one’s eye wanders. The browser-based game where your basic game mechanic is to read a short piece of content and decide how you want to react to the things you’ve been presented is mostly reused from Failbetter Games’ previous game Echo Bazaar. There are two things you have to keep in mind though. The Night Circus is neither ad-based nor is it a freemium game. Since it was created to act as a viral marketing campaign for Morgenstern’s book it doesn’t need to be. I am aware of the fact that the game itself is a giant self-contained ad. Curiously though I’m not opposed to that. I can even say it worked for me. I am definitely going to buy the book as the game has managed to stir my interest for this monochrome universe of magic tricks and artistry. I have reasons why I am not reading the novel right this moment, though I sometimes wish I would be.
I haven’t seen a viral marketing effort this catered to readers and gamers alike and I’d be very interested in figures or percentages of how many people bought the book because they’ve been immersed in the online game. I think it’s a great marketing strategy that doesn’t use the obnoxious in-your-face approach that I so despise about most advertisement. I am someone who tries to gather information before I buy something, I even gather information before I get interested in things. I don’t go out there and see stuff I have to buy immediately (snacks aside ;)) but a person who learns new stuff from watching, I’d even say observing. Not someone who will buy whatever you shove into his face. Or at least I’d like to believe that. How could I state that objectively in my self-bias?