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Who Made the Best Video Game Commercials? May 21, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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A big secret about the gaming industry is that game sales are primarily fueled by marketing.  While in the age of the internet, games can quickly gain a cult following by devoted fans who trade information on message boards across the world, for the people who don’t play games, their only exposure to new games will typically come from the commercials for them that get aired on television or posted on billboards.

The big three console makers have always known that it takes great games to convince people to buy their console, but they also need to find other ways to make their console more attractive for developers to make those amazing games, and that means that they need to create big advertising campaigns to sell their products.  Sometimes these huge campaigns pay off, other times they don’t.  We’re not really here to discuss that.  We’re here to talk about which of the big three console manufacturers made the best video game commercials.

We can’t start this discussion without talking about the company who has probably had some of the most successful video game advertising campaigns in history, Sony.  I already talked about this in my more-in depth article on Sony commercials, but really one doesn’t need to look much further than their Greatness Awaits campaign to see the latest spectacle of a great time on top.

Short, elegant, and to the point with just the right amount of spectacle.  For Sony, their commercials stress that they’re selling you an entire platform, not just a single game.  Now, this strategy hasn’t always worked for them.  I know a lot of people who hated their original PS2 advertisement campaign.

I liked this commercial.  I thought it was a good first step for a platform just coming out with very few games to show for it.  The PS2 would be sold out for at least five months after the console launched in my neck of the woods.  A platform launching that successfully without a killer app was nearly unheard of.

But if I’m going to talk Playstation, there is something that I cannot forget, or should I say, someone.  Sony’s “VP of Marketing”, Kevin Butler.

If you ask me, its a shame they discontinued working with him.

Microsoft has never really been successful the form of advertising.  They invested millions of dollars into the advertising campaign for the release of Windows 95, and more people had the original DOOM shareware installed on their PC.  Since then, Microsoft shyed away from mass marketing campaigns.  They were the market leader, and from what I’ve been told there is an unwritten rule that anyone who comfortably held the crown of market leader doesn’t need to advertise, as their product was already well known enough by people.  However, when Microsoft decided to enter the game console race, they needed the full weight of the company behind their new product’s advertising budge.  Microsoft’s marketing department, while they were able to produce some huge launch events, was never able to produce great commercials for their platform early on.

I still remember how the highest resolution version of that commercial Bungie released for download made my computer from 2003 slow down until I upgraded the GPU.

Even to this day, I never really thought much of the Xbox 360’s advertisements.  However, they always did a fantastic job with the 360’s Halo titles!  While I mentioned the “Starry Night” ad in the top video game commercials video, that came out only to promote the game’s beta test, not the game’s release.  When Halo 3 launched, Microsoft went all-out on a campaign simply titled “Believe” and while I think Starry Night was more revolutionary, the Believe series still gets me to choke up every time I watch it.

After Bungie finished the fight, their next two games had very similar ad campaigns.  It all started with a highly-successful commercial which saw some pretty critical acclaim.  It was so good, I had to put it on my list.

For Bungie’s last Halo game, they decided to keep with the style they explored in the previous commercial, and tell a prequel story to the beginning of Halo: Reach.  We all knew the character of Noble Six was a last-minute replacement, and now we knew what happened to the previous Noble Six.

How successful were these commercials?  After Bungie left the Halo franchise, this tradition continued with the first ever television commercial for Halo 4.

If you ask me, nobody did a better job than Nintendo.  Even though Nintendo became a cultural phenomenon when they released the NES in my neck of the woods, I can’t remember them ever having to market their products on television during those days.  However, when Nintendo decided to enter the handheld space, that all changed.  When the Nintendo Game Boy launched in North America, Nintendo promoted some of the system’s launch titles, including one of my favorite Mario games of all time, Super Mario Land.

During the era of the Nintendo 64.  Nintendo was sitting in second place against the incredible market domination of the original Playstation, but they did have some really creative exclusive titles available.   Only Nintendo could produce such unique commercials for games that were this unique.

Here’s one you’ll probably remember, this is the commercial for Super Smash Bros.  After watching this, you’ll never look at cute mascots the same way again.

Haven’t lost your faith in cute mascots yet?  Watch the commercial for Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

But the Nintendo 64 wasn’t the only system that Nintendo was promoting.  At the same time, they were holding nearly uncontested control in the handheld space thanks to the overwhelming success of Pokémon.  Want to catch everything in the game?  You’re going to need a Link Cable.

Sadly, since the late 90s, Nintendo lulled a bit in their ability to make memorable TV commercials.  I have to admit I was never a fan of their marketing campaign for the Nintendo Wii or Wii U, but I think that in the past year or two, Nintendo has gotten a little bit of their original magic back.  Here’s their commercial for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

So after watching all that, I really can’t say who I thought did it best.  Each company was excellent in its own way, and to this day have produced commercials I’ll never forget.

I’ll leave that up to you!  Post a comment on who you thought did it better and what commercial you thought was the best!

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First Gameplay Footage From Batman: Arkham Knight May 21, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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WB Games and Rocksteady have officially released the first official trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight made entirely from in-game footage.  You’re going to have to see it to believe it.

Batman: Arkham Knight is coming to the Xbox One and Playstation 4.  Exclusive content featuring a playable Harley Quinn will be available to anyone who preorders the game from participating retailers.