Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Hardcore" Game Commercials: With Real People

Hi All,

Wanted to share a few commercials that one of my UROP students brought to my attention.  These commercials are for "hardcore" games, but depict real actors playing in the game world.  One of the differences of these commercials, as opposed to the "casual" game commercials, is that they only show people as if they were actually playing within the game.  On the contrary, we saw people in "casual" game commercials in front of the TV screen, with a view of both the players and the on screen context. 

I'd like to get your feedback on these types of commercials.  Who is the perceived audience and why?  What does having real people as players in the game world do for advertising these types of games? 

                                          Borderlands 2  (don't mind that it's in German):


Assassin's Creed Brotherhood:


  1. 1) The perceived audience to me appears to be men that are looking to see themselves in these high violent scenarios. It seems the advertisers are trying to bring the gamers into the game, and show them what they can do.

    2)I think it helps connect the player with the environment they will be entering, instead of selling it as if "you can control someone else in this really cool environment, but you can't be there yourself." So I guess it differentiates itself from Movie or TV mediums that is specifically watching a character go through things instead of you making those choices yourself.

  2. I did notice in the Assassin's Creed trailer that, besides the group of people who fell out of the elevator at the beginning, none of the people who got killed were men. However, it could be possible that people perceive violence against women as more sketchy than violence against men and the ad creators simply wanted to tread carefully. Other than that I don't see any sign that these ads are targeted more at men than at people of both sexes who enjoy badass action games. The Borderlands trailer did include a female protagonist, and it didn't really seem like they did anything with her to emphasize sex appeal.

    I'm not entirely sure what's with this trend that has emerged over the past couple year of having live action trailers for video games. With Modern Warfare I assumed it was just so they could throw in some celebrities (though I'll admit the Mod 2 trailer also worked well as a metaphor, showing all of the different types of people who come together online to play their game). Quite frankly, I'd rather see some gameplay, and they just confuse all the old people who think its a movie. I think they do this because they want to make their games feel real and not like their just a graphic. Also, when its live action it simply looks cooler. I mean, whats better: thinking your actually watching something blow up (you're not, cause of the CGI) or watching a graphic blow up? Definitely the thing that looks more real.

  3. I believe the perceived audience depends on what station the commercials are being shown on. For example, I've seen both of these commercials on ESPN. Obviously this is not the only station they appear on, but I think in this case I think they were expecting a predominantly male audience. However, I do agree with Karsten that both commercials don't overtly cater to a male audience in the same way that say Dr. Pepper does with their ridiculous "It's not for women!" tagline. These commercials are more inclusive in this way, appealing to anyone and everyone who loves hardcore action games.

    In regard to the use of real actors, I agree with both of you. Yes, anytime you can utilize celebrities to promote your product is a plus, as people inevitably are more likely to jump on board with something if their favorite celebrity is all about it. I also think by using real action sequences they may be able to reel in an different audience, perhaps one that doesn't typically play video games but loves watching movies instead. They are intrigued by the live-action, thinking it may be a movie trailer which could hold their attention long enough until the end, where they could either end up disappointed once they find out it is for a video game or potentially (if the commercial was effective) impressed enough to look further into it, or so they hope. Plus real explosions are way cooler, but I'm a firm believer if your game is good enough, your gameplay should be enough to sell it.