The likelihood of a collision between this year’s biggest cult game and television series
I know, it sounds too good to be true. When the idea was first presented to me, I had the exact same reaction. However, once I started to look into it a bit, it became clear that not only could we have a Death Stranding update happen during the season 8 finale of The Walking Dead; from Sony’s standpoint, it absolutely should happen. I’ve gone through the numbers, and put together a few reasons why, despite all of the secrecy surrounding the newest Hideo Kojima game, I’m not giving up on the notion entirely.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Norman Reedus stars in both Sony’s “Death Stranding”, and AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. In general, an actor having a role in two separate productions, let alone separate platforms, doesn’t cause much need for cross-promotion. That doesn’t quite take into account the cult following that Daryl Dixon carries, though. A large portion of TWD’s audience are casual gamers who haven’t ever heard of Hideo Kojima, or know anything about Death Stranding, but when presented with the ability to play as their favorite crossbow wielding badass, they’ll be all over it. Walking Dead fans are loyal to a fault, proven by the fact that they aren’t all screaming for Negan to bash Rick’s head in (please).
Dropping a release date during the show seems like a stretch, but some previously unseen gameplay footage, along with a message of, “More Coming This Summer at E3” would almost guarantee a raise in numbers for the Playstation brand’s show. On the other side of the coin, it definitely wouldn’t hurt The Walking Dead, which has had terrible numbers this season, to garner the attention of an extra 500 thousand viewers who are tuning in to see a commercial. Hey, on paper, views are views. Speaking of, let’s talk numbers, and why The Walking Dead’s are actually favorable for Sony at this particular moment.
This has been the worst season for TWD, ratings wise, since season 2** (I blame Andrea). After the emotional rollercoaster of season 6, last year’s addition was tapered off, and it’s finale stirred up only 11.3 million views(ha), the lowest since the show’s second season as well. This years run has had more than it’s fair share of trouble, with its mid season finale (7.9mil) and mid season premiere (8.3mil) both drawing in the lowest crowd since... you guessed it. God, the Governor was awful. But yes, nobody wanted to tune in to see if Carl turned out to be immune to zombies like some games have taught us children are. He didn’t. These numbers aren’t all that bad though. TWD is still on top of its time slot, and is still pulling in big numbers, even if they are low compared to its own records. For perspective, two of our country’s most popular shows, Empire and Modern Family, finished their seasons off with right at 6 and 5.9 million views, respectively. To say that TWD is bombing is a bit more than a stretch.
To tell the truth, I love TWD. LOVE IT. But somehow, I haven’t brought myself to watch any of the second half of this season. Rick’s tireless monologue after monologue has left me exhausted. I have them all recorded and will watch them all before the finale though, which you bet your ass I’m watching live. As far as I can tell, there’s a good number of people with the same plan. What this means for Sony is the ability to negotiate price based on the
current down swing instead of at peak position, getting more bang for their buck, while ultimately not seeing a huge difference in the ratings. Even if it “tanks” and only receives 8 million views, for a game whose last official word was around Christmas, it would be a good way to revitalize the Death Stranding hype before we get into this summer’s gaming season. Plus, I really need some explanations as to what the hell this game even is.
*Walking Dead season 8 finale is scheduled to air Sunday, April 15, on AMC Death Stranding is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2018
**All ratings sourced from Variety.com