The Stanley Parable is, once more, likely to be a hot topic of discussion as it pertains to the nature of narrative design in videogames and the illusion of choice. What isn't an illusion is the title's initial success, pushing out more than 100,000 copies in its first weekend.
In a postmortem published on the product's blog, Davey Wreden of Galactic Cafe explains how the team created original content not found in the final release (but using largely the same assets) to produce marketing materials which were unique and entertaining on their own without a focus on "selling" the product. In addition to the five trailers released during development, none of which contained significant footage from The Stanley Parable, Wreden cites the free demo released last week as a major success, having received significant buzz from news sites. Further, a torrent of "Let's Play" videos from notable personalities on YouTube, some containing small amounts of personalized content created specifically for those personalities, helped to expose hundreds of thousands of viewers to the title.
It's a fine read. Wreden notes that these strategies may not be practical for all developers, as demos effectively constitute an entire additional product cycle of development and release, but can provide unique opportunities to engage audiences.