Tag Archives: marketing

Kate Upton and Game of War

Paul Tassi writing for Forbes:

It just seems like a strange pairing, and I think if Upton or her support staff understood the industry more, they’d realize that Game of War is a relatively spammy title compared to other offerings in the video game industry, and rather beneath one of the most famous supermodels in the world. Though I suppose what was almost certainly a multimillion dollar paycheck for no more than a few day’s work will draw all the kind words the game requires.

It’s an interesting, unsettling age we live in where games can be bad by nearly anyone’s standards, but still be hugely profitable with enough marketing to herd easily-addicted players toward a microtransaction-stuffed title. It seems to be working quite well with Game of War, but I’m not sure how long these kinds of titles can continue to find success, as they seem to have a short shelf life once players get tired of being milked endlessly.

While I find the Game of War marketing campaign adolescent and lazy, I don’t have a problem with Upton being placed in ads or the game itself any more than I do Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I’m sure she was offered a fine deal for her likeness. In-game celebrity is something we should be getting used to. (Peter Dinklage voiceover in Destiny, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood)

Regarding Tassi’s thoughts on the longevity of “these kinds of titles”, Transformers: Age of Extinction grossed $1.09B. Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles grossed $474.4M. I hope you see what I’m getting at here. And I’m a huge TMNT fan.

UPDATE: It looks like Game of War has released a new version of their Twitter campaign, reading “Will you be the hero?” vs. “Will you be my hero?” Note that the banner image differs as well, with less of an upfront focus on Upton. Context suggests “the” seems more in-line than “my”, but is this a variant or a rebrand?

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Hail Mario

On Friday night, something beautiful happened. Something I hadn’t experienced in roughly 15 years. 4-player split-screen local multiplayer.

For close to three hours, a group of four late-twenty somethings, two of which had rarely touched a controller since Nintendo 64 (let alone given a thought to the medium since), celebrated the beginning of their weekend with pizza, beer, and the newly released Mario Kart 8. There were no chat headsets, lag times, or slanderous rants. Just loads of laughter, blue-shell equalizing, and repetition of the reminiscent phrase, “I love video games.”

Early Embargo

On May 15th, Nintendo lifted the review embargo for Mario Kart 8. Critiques for a game consumers couldn’t get their hands on began springing up across the web, heralding it as “the best pure Mario Kart experience yet” and “the king of the mascot kart circuit.” Nearly every day after the embargo’s end, journalists (game and otherwise) taunted would-be players, trumpeting the game’s brilliance.

I asked Polygon’s Ben Kuchera what he thought of the early embargo. His quick and brief response:

I guarantee you it helped pre-sales.

If my buying habits of were any indication of the market at large, he was right.

Freebie

Not resting on chance from reviewers, Nintendo decided to offer up one of four free games when US and Canada Mario Kart 8 owners registered their game with Club Nintendo before 7/31/14. Expecting to see a slew of sub-par Wii branded titles, I was pleasantly surprised to see a selection of solid entries valued at $40 and up: New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Wii Party U.

If a near certain purchaser was still hesitating to pre-order after stellar reviews, a deal like this would put them over the edge.

The Plant

Playing that night, I’d go as far as to say that the four of us would fall as outliers on a graph of expected launch day players. The fact that I owned a Wii U was a shock in it’s own right. Our guests that evening had yet to even see the console a year-and-a-half after it’s launch.

What would have been a more likely scene would be clusters of parents that grew up with the franchise watching their own children tear into the game, possibly taking a swing at the old Nintendo 64 Rainbow Road now and again.

Outliers or not, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that the four of us were the only Mario Kart old timers celebrating on release day. It came as no surprise when I heard one of our guests convince himself that he would be investing in the console if only for Mario Kart. The mention that he could also download The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the system seemed to solidify his notion.

Old Timers

Mario Kart 8 proves that Nintendo is deeply in tune with generational gaming gaps. As our Link to the Past lover so eloquently put it, the ease of entry to Mario Kart 8 iterates on the tried and true idiom “it’s like riding a bike” with an updated “it’s like playing Mario Kart.”

From the first race to the last, we would chuckle at my fiancée’s incessant need to comment on how gorgeous the levels looked. Funny at first, I couldn’t help but look closer at the imagery in the courses. It became evident that Nintendo is unabashedly gunning for Disney-level aesthetics; a tactic to win over most demographics.

If a level of unmatched flow and fun can be reached seconds into the first race, franchise elders will certainly double take at the sight of the Wii U + Mario Kart bundle during their next visit to Target.

Final Lap?

In ’91, with a 10-7 lead, the Dallas Cowboys bet on a Hail Mary pass against the Washington Redskins at the end of the 1st half. Troy Aikman’s successful touchdown pass to Alvin Harper would give the Cowboys a 17-7 lead to eventually topple the Redskins, 24-21; the first Redskins loss of the season after an 11-0 start. No early Hail Mary, no game ending win.

Nintendo gambled for positive reviews two weeks before launch, is now chalking up at least $40 in games to every US and Canadian Mario Kart owning household, and prays that their Trojan horse will be the spark to move units. Since release, the game has received stunning accolades, Club Nintendo has been brought down by what can only be assumed as immense traffic for free games, and at least one Wii U newcomer is being tugged at by curiosity.

When people think of video games, a large majority picture a mustachioed plumber in a red hat, but Master Chief and the Minecraft universe are only 3 points down. There are still many plays to be made but a well-timed, well-calculated marketing play this big could be enough to save the game. Mario Kart 8 may give Nintendo the lead they need to send a message to the HD Twins: Nintendo’s race is not over.

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Juxtaposition in Video Game Commercials

Textbook Tarantino or tired trope?

I recently re-entered the world of BioShock’s Rapture by means of BioShock: Infinite’s Burial At Sea DLC. As I moved about the underwater city, full of the Gatsby-esque architectural stylings of Frank Lloyd Wright, I heard familiar sounds from the 20s-40s cascade through the setting.

At first, these genuinely warm pieces lulled me into a comfort juxtaposed against what eventually becomes a dark and grotesque atmosphere. Though, after roughly an hour, the presence of the pieces became more noticeable than they had seemed in my first play-through of the original BioShock. I pawned this off to the Billie Holiday Pandora station I’ve practically had on loop since that original play-through.

However, I began to wonder if the use of happy/soothing/serene/moving music juxtaposed against aggressive and bleak circumstances may be overstaying it’s welcome. Just as quickly as I had decided to push this notion out of my mind, I heard news of the new Wolfenstein: The New Order trailer making use of Martha and The Vandellas hit “Nowhere to Run.” While the song my not be strewn throughout the entirety of the trailer, it made me wonder if my initial inkling was correct.

I have decided to compile a list of many video game commercials that take advantage of this marketing approach, starting with Super Smash Bros. in 1999. This is likely nowhere near a complete list, merely an example of a marketing technique that is becoming less and less subtle.

Is this approach still effective or tired?

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

Song: The Turtles – Happy Together
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Black (2005)
Song: Giuseppe Verdi – La Traviata: Noi Siamo Zingarelle
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Gears of War (2006)
Song: Gary Jules – Mad World (feat. Michael Andrews)
iTunes | Amazon MP3

BioShock (2007)
Song: Bobby Darin – Beyond the Sea
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

Dante’s Inferno (2010)
Song: Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Playstation 4: Perfect Day (2013)
Song: Lou Reed – Perfect Day
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

Titanfall: Life is Better With a Titan (2014)
Song: Robbie Williams & Jonathan Wilkes – Me and My Shadow
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

PS4: Sharing Means Caring (Destiny) (2014)
Song: Josh Daughtery – Sharing Means Caring

PS4: Sharing Means Caring (Watch Dogs) (2014)
Song: Josh Daughtery – Sharing Means Caring

Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)
Song (Original): Martha and The Vandellas – Nowhere to Run
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

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UPDATE: Thanks to Bob Mackey of Retronauts for the “Sharing Means Caring” recommendations.


 

Originally published on TheStarrList.com

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No girls allowed | Polygon

No girls allowed
Polygon

Kick off this detailed and gorgeous read explaining why video games are for boys and why that needs to change with the video above.

President of the marketing firm A Squared Group Amy Cotteleer says that marketing is so powerful that it can shape our values and beliefs, and we’re often not even aware that it’s happening. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns in the 1920s are the reason why the modern-day image of Santa Claus is a jovial, plump man in a Coca-Cola Red suit. Prior to Coca-Cola, there was no consistent image of Santa. He was often represented as a skinny man who sometimes wore green and sometimes wore brown. So if Coca-Cola could sell us the modern-day Santa, the game industry would not have had much trouble selling the idea that video games are for males.

– Tracey Lien, Polygon

Tracey Lien and Polygon, thank you for this amazing feature. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there’s something in my eye.

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