Tencent also wanted to strengthen CrossFire’s brand positioning, ‘Time to Fire!’, which challenges fans to break out of their routine and unleash the fighter within. This messaging was also designed to attract new online and offline audiences and convert them into fans.
For the main anniversary event, Tencent wanted to deliver an innovative, never-before-seen, hi-tech e-sport tournament in China for the world stage. It was held at Baoshan Shanghai Sports Center.
George P. Johnson’s Beijing office was brought on to design and execute the event. They quickly decided to put fans at the heart of the story.
“We needed to pivot on the insight that fans play this game as a form of escape from reality,” said Joey Khor, executive creative director, George P. Johnson (GPJ). “Another powerful insight that helped drive our idea was that most people are intrigued by secrets, missions and conspiracy theories.
“The strategic approach was to create an opportunity for audiences to escape reality by blurring the lines between game life and real life and putting fans at the centre of the experience.”
GPJ crafted a storyline of a world in chaos due to leaked governments secrets, which took the audience on an intense journey from seeding pre-event calls to calls to action (CTAs).
“The intention was to make our audiences feel as though they are right in the centre of a global military catastrophe, and it is up to them collectively to make a difference as time runs out,” says Khor. “Creatively, our challenge was to generate content that was immersive yet thematically tied to the in-game environment and to CrossFire’s campaign.”
GPJ designed the CrossFire stage to evoke a public square, which then morphed into an in-game environment. The centre of the stage could be elevated and transformed to accommodate multiple scenarios such as the opening story, a performance by Hong Kong singer-songwriter G.E.M., various product launches and the all-important finals tournament.
“The stage was technically designed to be spectacular during the on-ground live event – and attract online viewing,” adds Khor.
The stage was also populated with live actors, and plenty of LED power to create changing environments. Four big boxes filled with LED panels at the side of the stage were used to create in-game elements such as cargo containers and wooden shelters.
“To create hype, we introduced the tournament players by hiding them in these boxes as they were elevated up from the stage,” says Khor. “We even had actors on wires being lowered onto the boxes to perform.”
The opening act made use of the LED panels as well as a stunning projection-mapping show on a translucent fabric. Live actors were brought on to perform a military coup. This was carefully planned
to accommodate online viewers as well.
Experiences were also set-up around the Center. Guests were encouraged to create bullet-time imagery — so named for its ability to slow time enough to show a moving bullet, as popularised by The Matrix — of themselves and their friends with an in-game environment as a backdrop. This served as a photo booth to create photos similar to the game, which were then shared via social media.
Cosplay actors representing characters from the game were also dotted throughout the experience area to interact with guests. “Not only were they wearing costumes, but we made sure the cosplayers immersed themselves into the characters,” says Khor.