Microsoft Studios and The Coalition planned to launch Gears of War: Ultimate Edition at E3 (2015) — the largest video game conference in the world. They wanted to captivate Gears of War’s loyal fan base — which had been anxiously waiting for the new game — and maintain the series’ elite status as an AAA franchise. However, the Gears of War series was lacking a true website; the current design was outdated, unmaintainable and unresponsive to modern mobile devices, and not reflective of an AAA title.
Microsoft needed a new destination website to engage the player community and educate the public about the Gears of War brand, the yet-to-be-announced Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and Gears of War 4.
Microsoft gained a website and integrated communications destination that “looks great, stands up great and won’t fail.” The highly successful engagement demonstrated KPMG’s ability to deliver an end-to-end gaming website solution on time against a nonmoving deadline with a high level of quality — including enterprise-grade stability and consumer-level engagement with some of the most passionate customers in the world.
The launch helped the Gears of War franchise maintain its AAA rating, and it garnered very positive reviews from the gaming community and the press. Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News commented, “Nine years after its original release, re-released as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on the Xbox One, the game still captivates.”
To meet the extreme challenges of the Gears of War website design and game rollout, KPMG utilized a team spanning three countries. We applied a highly collaborative approach to communicating with The Coalition design team, KPMG’s Microsoft account team, and KPMG governance and risk advisors. Together, we developed the responsive cross-platform Gears of War website, including associated coding and deployment, using Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform and infrastructure.
The site allowed for optimal viewing and interaction on desktop and various mobile devices. We also developed a rollout strategy for launch, including managing risks, and also provided guidance around Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) regulations.
A pragmatic implementation of the Agile development methodology, blended with proven software development life cycle rigor, is a powerful solution when a release date is firm, such as with a new gaming site or sporting event pre-announced to millions of people.
Design thinking and full collaboration with stakeholders in advance of the build, coupled with the use of the best components of the Agile methodology, will enable a no-surprise and as-expected end product.
Building named or unnamed motivators into your site — such as badges for signing up in the first 24 hours after go-live — will drive site popularity, positive attention, and a continuously growing and engaged community with deep roots.