So here we are in sunny old 2014 and the world of gaming is very different to how it once looked. The size of the industry, the content of the games and the finances have grown exponentially while sadly some companies have ceased to exist, but despite all the changes one aspect has constantly remained, Advertising. We see it everywhere we look in modern life, on our phones, on TV, plastered across the internet. It has become a key part to commercial success for a lot of mediums and videogames are no exception. As the mulit-billion dollar industry continues to build we inevitably see a rise in marketing expenditure resulting in a range of advertising from cringe worthy flops to inspired masterpieces. So what are the best examples from the world of games? Luckily I have hand-picked my favourites and organised them into a nifty top 10 list for you. Enjoy!
The Honourable Mention – PlayStation ‘4 The Gamers Since 1995’
It’s incredible to think that three quarters of my life I have had a PlayStation. Ever since I unboxed the original grey machine I have had an addiction to PlayStation that causes people to have the same worried expression that they have when bearded men in trench coats linger around playgrounds. Luckily in light of the recent launch of their latest console the guys at Sony have made a nostalgic ad helping PlayStation fans reconnect with those memories from the past so at least I know it’s not just me who relives the glory days. The ad also has some rather clever subtle touches like the posters of ‘relevant’ musicians on the wall and the changing style of Domino’s pizza boxes (because we all know that rocking out without pizza is not a life worth living).
10. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Many moons ago Link, the hero of Hyrule, stepped out in his first epic 3D adventure. To showcase the historic moment Nintendo released an advert showing of gameplay mixed with lines of text that asked questions of the audience. Nothing particullarly note worthy here apart from the last line which reads “Willst thou get the girl? Or play like one?”. This one lined caused enough controversy for Nintendo to change the advert to read “Willst thou soar? Or willst thou suck?”. Strange choice from Nintendo who in more recent years have become known for their family friendly advertising (see all those painful Wii commercials). It also highlights a major shift in gaming audiences for the first time with female gamers starting to gain a little recognition. Ignoring this slip up The Legend of Zelda series has proven to be one of the most popular gaming franchises with females gamers across the world.
9. Xbox 360 ‘Standoff’
As an avid fan of comedy nothing grabs my attention more than an advert that makes my chuckle. The ‘Standoff’ TV spot was part of the Jump In campaign for the Xbox 360 and was one of two ads on this list that were banned. Although banned from TV ‘Standoff’ did get quite the following online and earned its place in videogame history. I also thought it was a glimpse of what it would be like to play a GTA massively multiplayer game, which from the endless GTA: Online videos seems fairly accurate.
8. Dead Space ‘E3 Trailer’
From comedy to horror and in 2008 nothing was more terrifying than Dead Space, apart from the bill for the lavish Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. The E3 Trailer, also known as ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, was completely unnerving from start to finish with enough flashes of gore to keep the heart rate up. As a wise man said “I advise wearing two pairs of pants when you play Dead Space”. That wise man was me but now six years and two sequels later the only thing I would add is to make it three pairs of pants.
7. PlayStation ‘Double Life’
Ah Europe the poor middle child that gets less attention than the other kids, big brother America and little Japan. As well as paying over the worldwide average for our games we have long suffered from a lack of large hardware developers (Microsoft Xbox US, Sony PlayStation & Nintendo Japan) and the consumer market to back the release, or at least first release of some games. While this trend is starting to change back in 1999 PlayStation made a special advert for Europe to show that we aren’t insignificant by any stretch of the imagination. Turns out that advert would become known as one of the best gaming ads ever made. Nice one Europe.
6. Xbox ‘Life Is Short’
Remember how I told you that there were two banned ads in this list? Well this is the second and yet again Xbox are the culprits. While clearly trying to corrupt our minds and poison our youth the guys for the Xbox marketing team made a great advert. It grabbed the attention of audiences and gave me an excuse to spend those sunny afternoons playing games rather than improving myself in a variety of other ways. Oh well, life is too short to worry about that.
5. GTA: Vice City
In 2002 the world witnessed the release of GTA: Vice City the second 3D game in the GTA series. Following the critical and commercial success of GTA III the team at Rockstar had a lot to live up to. The team, seemingly undaunted, confirmed their confidence in Vice City when they released a trailer for the game solely containing gameplay footage. It is rare for developers to show off in game moments, but not only was the ad a shiny example of Rockstar’s talent, it was also a brilliant homage to the 1980’s with colour pallets and environments that result in one of the best “I want that game NOW” adverts in history. More of the same for GTA VI please.
4. PlayStation ‘Perfect Day’
The third and final PlayStation in this list is a newer example of how Sony still make some of the best gaming adverts out there. For me ‘Perfect Day’ sums up playing games with friends; you share the fun with a light-hearted nature, but underneath there is a competitive desire to win and if winning involves hitting your friend in the face with a mace then pass me that weapon now. The ad has some wonderful tongue in cheek humour making light of ‘violent videogames’. After all games are meant to be fun!
3. The Legend of Zelda
The worst advert in the history of man makes it into the top three. This stereotypical 80s ad sees a geek and a jock team up to play Zelda with some horrific consequences. The reason this infamous Zelda TV advert made into this list is that it shows a remarkable change in what marketing executives think the average gamer is and the cultural changes surrounding videogames. It also serves as a way to show our children what atrocities we committed. I warn you that you may find this advert upsetting.
2. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo’s characters have always enjoyed a fairly clean reputation. Mario, for instance, is a plumber that stomps on peoples heads and takes mushrooms, but he still maintains the good guy image. So when you see some of the most famous faces in Nintendo history taking a stroll through an open meadow only to start fighting each other like a PG-13 Mortal Kombat you take notice. With this ad Nintendo showed they could make fun of themselves and the result was hilarious.
1. Gears of War (all of them)
Ok, so maybe including all of the Gears adverts doesn’t count, but they are all so brilliant in their own right that they deserve to be number one. The use of music combined with the on screen action serves up emotional minute long segments that show that gaming has developed to become more than just a fun gimmick for teenagers that we tire of after a few days. We now have engaging experiences that captivate all kinds of audiences and bring them together to share these special moments. Well done Gears of War for your adverts of sad beauty that make me cry manly tears.
Thanks for reading,