Marketing is big business for any and all consumer products and services. At one time video games sold because of word of mouth advertising, magazine ads and articles, and the occasional commercial that would air during Saturday morning cartoons. Now, however, we have massive ad campaigns spanning from 30-second television spots to Twitter contests. With so much going into drumming up hype, have marketers taken things a bit too far as of late?
Let’s look at some positives of ad campaigns starting with Uncharted 3. Recently a video came out showing Harrison Ford playing this highly anticipated title. While watching big name stars playing video games is nothing new, this video highlighted the excitement and enjoyment with nothing more than having Mr. Ford play the game while the camera caught his childlike expressions as he gamed. By the end of the video viewers got a sense that he was having a genuinely good time and that increased excitement levels for the game. They may not have plastered the screen with review scores and quotes from articles produced by big name reviewers, but it is effective nonetheless.
Another great campaign was the recent “Michael” video that Sony pumped out for their new Long Live Play campaign. The live action video did nothing more than show some of the most iconic characters on the Sony platform talking about how the player saved the day and pushed through some of the more difficult obstacles in various games. This worked so well due to the casualness of the video, the characters praising the efforts of the player, and making gamers feel as though their actions in a virtual world would be talked about for ages. This 2-minute video spread like wildfire across the net and shows, yet again, how companies can make memorable ads without getting all controversial and ridiculous.
EA happens to be a company that know all about controversy and ridiculous marketing. All anyone has to do is search for Dead Space 2 on the Internet and links for their ads showing mothers getting grossed out by the game show up at the top of search results. As a gamer, this was ridiculous as EA did nothing more than highlight the violence in the game, something that this industry already enjoys a bad rap for. These ads did little to sell the story or game experience itself, but instead drummed up conversations about the ads due to how appalling they were.
Finally we get to the most recent example of bad marketing and it is once again from EA. Battlefield 3 is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated titles during the crazy release season. The advertising for this game is nothing short of abysmal. They put out a video showcasing the game but then went with a song from Jay-Z that made little sense and quickly became a joke on Twitter. Even worse than that is how they planned the release of reviews from media outlets. PC reviews started coming out on Sunday and they were generally good. However, the 360 reviews got the embargo treatment and were not allowed to come out until after the game released on Tuesday. Why this embargo you ask? Most likely due to how much better the PC version fares in comparison to the 360. So why is this a marketing ploy? Easy, now EA has box quotes praising the PC version that they can slap on the console ads. EA knew the console versions would take a beating and thus allowed hype to build with great reviews of one version before the inferior product released a few days later. Sneaky EA, very sneaky.
There are plenty more examples of good and bad advertising, but the question at hand must be answered by you. Are current video game marketing strategies getting out of hand? Have marketers hindered the maturing of this young industry by releasing over the top, childish ads? What say you, community.