An article in Forbes calls a new promotion from Pepsi and Activision "nothing short of unholy." The promotion, "Rank Up XP," gives Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 players extra time in-game to earn double experience by purchasing Pepsi products (Doritos and Mountain Dew) and redeeming codes from the packaging. The experience comes in various allotments of time; a 20 oz Mountain Dew will earn players 15 minutes, for example.
Destructoid's Nick Chester has left the building to dance his pants off at a new gig. In an open letter to the community Chester announced that he would be leaving the popular web site to become a publicist for Cambridge, Ma.-based music game giant Harmonix. Here's some of what Chester had to say to the Destructoid community:
Gamification expert Gabe Zichermann will showcase his second book, Gamification By Design, at The Gamification Summit September 15-16 in New York City. The new release, which launched on Amazon.com today, will be on sale during the Summit. Zichermann will also host a concentrated design session filled with "revelations and profound insights" learned from his work with the world’s biggest brands, hottest startups and a range of non-profits.
Independent video rental stores across the U.S. and Canada are banding together for a common cause: to promote a Video Store Day Oct. 15. The goal of this special day is to show the public that there are still alternatives to rental kiosks like Redbox and from Blockbuster, and streaming entertainment services such as Netflix and Hulu. Clearly local video rental stores have taken a savage beating at the hands of those juggernauts.
This actual gameplay footage from We Dare, the sassy, saucy, and apparently badly marketed game from Ubisoft shows that the game is probably rated appropriately in Europe. In other words, harmless fun and not necessarily harmless "adult" fun. So if that's the case and the game is appropriate, then the blame for all the fervor over the game's content has to go to Ubisoft’s marketing department, who released a commercial making the game look like a way to get another couple to have a four-way...
Anyway, check out the video and see why We Dare is about as sexually charged as an episode of the Golden Girls.. Thanks to Andrew Eisen for the video link.
C|Net reports that the citizens of San Francisco are apparently ticked off at THQ - and by extension its partner GameStop - for releasing hundreds of balloons into the sky as part of a mock protest of North Korea - part of a marketing ploy for its new game Homefront. The balloon release happened during the Game Developers Conference. Many of the balloons had a postcard-size flyer attached to it advertising the game. People in the downtown area saw the balloons soaring in the sky, but were disgusted as they watched them land in the San Francisco Bay. That is when some residents began to express their anger. The anger was aimed at GameStop, which was a promotional partner with THQ and whose name appeared on the balloons.
THQ is apparently planning a crazy promotional event at GDC for its soon-to-be-released action game Homefront. According to SF Weekly, THQ has hired actors to pose as anti-North Korean protesters, march across the Golden Gate bridge, down the streets of San Francisco, and stopping across the street from GDC at Yerba Buena Gardens.
It seems odd to decry North Korea's "human rights violations" to promote a video game, but THQ's marketing department didn't consult us. The staged promotional event will also feature speeches by global experts, musical performances, and the launch of 10,000 balloons. Nothing says "we've been invaded" like a bunch of balloons, after all.
The "event" will take place on Wednesday in San Francisco.
From fake protesters to scaring the crap out of your mom, EA has cut loose with some, shall we say, odd marketing choices of late. Oh sure, there’s no such thing as bad press and EA’s games certainly aren’t hurting for attention but irking the people who actually buy your games in addition to the people who routinely lambast them might not be the best move.
In an editorial entitled "Your mom will hate 'Dead Space 2,' but does anyone care?," writer Tim Dunn ponders why EA's marketing department has used a technique usually used for teens and children for a mature rated game. Further, he wonders why EA would even think about using such a campaign when the Supreme Court is hearing a case about keeping ultra violent video games out of the hands of you children.
While his comments might seems a little overblown, he points out some valid concerns as well. He mentions mature games such as Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption, which carry a mature rating because they are telling stories and tackling topics that are geared towards adults. The Dead Space 2 campaign plays on "juvenile notions of maturity gamers have worked hard to change." In other words, the marketing for the game takes that fight a step back.
Here is more from Dunn:
The Intel AppUpM developer program and UK-based Dixons Retail PLC are in search of an app that enables users to interact with products from one or all of its retail sites - Currys and PC World - from home. The app can be a game, a 3D design tool, augmented reality, or whatever else developers want to build - as long as it meets the aforementioned criteria. The winning app will be judged on how much it engages users and on the level of interaction it creates with the stores or their products.
To get started, join Intel AppUp developer program, create an abstract, and pass it along to the challenge site. The top six developers with the best abstracts will then be asked to develop their app. All six developers will win at least $8,000 once the program validates their completed app. The best one wins $15,000 and receives additional exposure through promotions by Dixons and Intel AppUp.
The deadline is December 15.
Christian game publisher Left Behind Games announced that it has snatched up 16.711 million radio listening impressions in order to kick off a radio ad campaign for the holidays that begins today and runs through December 26.
The ads promote Left Behind’s Charlie Church Mouse and Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist games and will appear in 30-second (MP3), 60-second (MP3) and 90-second incarnations (MP3). The ads feature two woman discussing “cool Christian games,” that are “less violent than the Star Wars games.” The women are so excited they “can’t wait” to post about the games on Facebook.
Whatever you think of the ad for Call of Duty Black Ops, it sure has captured the attention of the public, and it’s still generating press weeks after its debut. The ad cleverly captures the interactivity of videogames and further dizzies viewers with appearances from Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel.
Aside from the violence being portrayed, the other real sticking point with critics seemed to be the youthful looking girl blasting away with a shotgun, pausing only for an enraptured smile. The female who played shotgun girl? The (aptly named) actress B.K. Cannon, who has also appeared in episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, ER and House M.D.
While an Atlantic columnist dubbed an advertisement for Call of Duty: Black Ops “twisted,” a fellow scribe at Jezebel defended the ad for prominently featuring female gamers.
Jezebel previously published a column in which the author, unhappy with how games were being marketed to females, offered tips on targeting women gamers. In the new Black Ops-focused piece, Margaret Hartmann wrote that “this ad actually acknowledges that not all of the 5.6 million copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops sold in the first 24 hours were bought by white men ages 18-34.”
The latest ad for Call of Duty: Black Ops, which features "common" people plugged into violent, war-based scenarios, is a little too realistic for one Atlantic columnist.
The ad in question is designed to allude to the interactivity of Black Ops and shows a young girl, a hotel concierge and other various people with normal jobs blasting away at unseen enemies with rocket launchers, shotguns and other weaponry. NBA star Kobe Bryant and late night host Jimmy Kimmel also make an appearance, before a tagline offers “There’s a Soldier in All of Us.”
One component of a new initiative designed to draw visitors back to downtown Topeka, Kansas could involve a zombie-based videogame.
Students from the Washburn University Department of Art in Topeka are pitching a game that would begin with zombies, carrying anti-Topeka signs, overrunning a “boarded-up” rendition of the Kansas town. As the player wipes out the zombies, according to a story in the charmingly-named Alva Review-Courier, a “new, bright and revitalized downtown” would be revealed.
Okay, we readily admit to being virtually hypnotized by Christian game publisher Left Behind Games, even more so in light of the odd press releases the company has issued in the past couple of weeks, but their latest may take the cake.
Today, Left Behind detailed an upcoming email campaign that it says will eventually hit 7.77 million inboxes. The company added a “top-tier” email delivery service that will push output to 45,000 emails per hour. The campaign will leverage an “under-utilized” list of over 500,000 “Christian consumers accumulated since the release of the Left Behind Trivia Game, 7 years ago.”
Christian PC game publisher Left Behind Games has stated that its Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist PC game, in advance of Christmas, will benefit from the “largest marketing push through churches since the Passion of the Christ.”
In a story last week, the company claimed that Christian store chains had pre-ordered 37,174 Left Behind Games titles in advance of the holiday season. The company has now disclosed the names of the chains that will carry its games, which includes Family Christian Stores, LifeWay Christian Stores, Mardel Christian & Education and Berean Christian Stores.
Social game powerhouse Zynga may be the most powerful force on Facebook but it may find itself faced with a challenger it can't overcome: the San Francisco City Attorney's office. The San Francisco City Attorney's office is going after Zynga for what it is calling an "illegal and actionable" act involving a marketing campaign to promote the company's latest product in the Mafia Wars franchise - Mafia Wars: Las Vegas.
In a letter released today, Deputy City Attorney Alex Tse said that Zynga committed "documented acts of sidewalk vandalism" to advertise the new Mafia Wars game using fake $25,000 bills that were glued to sidewalks in San Francisco. The fake bills contained a message directing people to a Mafia Wars website. While the stunt might sound amusing to the casual observer, the City Attorney isn't laughing.
For the first time, revenue from in-game advertising was broken out in a report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB), and the figures were not all that overwhelming.
The Canadian Online Advertising Revenue Survey (PDF) serves up actual 2009 results in addition to 2010 estimates. The report stated that 2009 revenue from Canadian in-game advertising was $3 million, or less than one percent of the year’s total of $1.82 billion.
Videogame advertising, as defined by IAB, “can range from an Advertiser buying some or all of the ad units in or around a game, to a 'Sponsored by' link to a custom-branded Game experience.”
Speaking to The Star, IAB President Paula Gignac called videogames “something of a walled garden” when it comes to marketing information.
The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army have each debuted marketing efforts spearheaded by augmented reality.
The Army’s Race for Strength Challenge—available online, and in kiosk form at select NASCAR events—allows gamers to pilot the Army-sponsored left-hand turn vehicle piloted by Ryan Newman. Online users will be prompted to print out an image of Newman’s Impala (PDF) to utilize as a virtual steering wheel, in conjunction with a webcam, to control the car onscreen. In the race Newman’s car will compete against MRAP and Stryker armored vehicles.
The racing game is said to be “an extension of the U.S. Army's continuing effort to showcase its high-tech skills training and the various options and career opportunities it offers.”
An analysis of restaurant, beverage and food websites advertised on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon between August 2006 and March 2007 led researchers to recommend that food companies come up with—and adhere to—uniform guidelines for marketing their products to children.
UC Davis researchers Diana Cassady and Jennifer Culp scrutinized 19 websites, 290 webpages and 247 advergames, according to a story on Science Daily. 84 percent of the websites featured online games, which were described as a “strategy to encourage ongoing and return website visits. Every single advergame also contained at least one brand identifier.
While the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) won a partial victory (preliminary injunction) earlier this year against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) over an ordinance that attempted to prohibit Mature (M)-rated game advertisements, the trade group now has an even clearer win under its belt, as a Judge has permanently banned the CTA from “enforcing or directing” enforcement of the ordinance.
In a ruling (PDF) handed down on May 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer—who granted the preliminary injunction as well—ordered judgment against the CTA and dictated that prompt notice of the judgment be given to CTA officers, and any agents, servants, employees and attorneys. The CTA also agreed not to “appeal or otherwise attack the validity or enforceability of the Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction.”
A series of television ads run in the UK for the PlayStation 3 game Heavy Rain rankled a few feathers due to their timing and violence.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reported receiving 38 complaints in response to four Heavy Rain ads, with viewers criticizing the violence of the ads and a perceived glamorization of violence. The objectors also worried that the ads were run at a time of day when children could view them.
The last complaint about the ads was that they were run around the same time that a shop keeper in Huddersfield was killed in an armed robbery. The Heavy Rain ads all depicted a scene in which a shop keeper was repeatedly threatened by an armed man with Heavy Rain character Scott Shelby watching. The versions differed in how the Shelby reacted to the situation; he either intervened, attacked or negotiated with the armed robber.
Research agency Millward Brown has released its annual list of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands (PDF).
The top five overall in the BrandZ Top 100 are probably not too surprising; Google tops the list, followed by IBM, Apple, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. Nintendo checks in at number 32 and Intel is at number 48, while Sony is number 94.
The report also broke out a section specifically for videogames. It was noted that the category was down 3.0 percent in year-over-year results, a shift blamed on the economic downturn. In a bid to spur fan-boy debates perhaps, specific game machines were also ranked by brand value, with the Wii taking the top spot, followed by the Nintendo DS, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP and PlayStation 2.
In a bid to drum up metrics on gamers that are comparable to those kept on users of other more traditional media, Nielson Games recently conducted a study of Xbox 360 owners that play the game 1 vs 100.
Working with Microsoft for the pilot study, the company placed watermarks in Season 2 of the game, which allowed the researcher to retrieve specific audience data over a 13 week period from November 2009 through February 2010. The study utilized two versions of 1 vs 100; the live form of the game and an Extended Play version that allows players to brush up on the game.
A promotion for the release of Splinter Cell: Conviction in New Zealand, complete with an armed “Sam Fisher,” went awry, causing members of the public to dive for cover after someone screamed “He’s got a gun!”
According to the New Zealand Herald, a man dressed as Fisher, with bandages wrapped around his hands and a fake gun, pointed his weapon at bar goers in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin. Someone thought the weapon was real and yelled a warning, causing the people in the bar to take cover. Police were called, and even though they thought the gun was real, they managed to diffuse the situation without hurting anyone.
Regional distributor Monaco Corporation had hired an unnamed marketing agency to setup the stunt and claimed to know nothing about a gun being involved.
Monaco Marketing Manager Duane Mutu apologized for the stunt, saying, “This was by no means an attempt to get cops down there and get this sort of exposure. It was just marketing gone wrong."
While political attack ads are common place, in the U.S. anyway, it’s still a bit out of the norm when publishers take each other in their marketing programs and today we offer two such examples for your perusal.
Remember the ill-received F.A.G.S. video designed to tout Modern Warfare 2? It decried grenade-spam in the game and featured Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Well, EA has created a spoof of the F.A.G.S. video designed to highlight its new release Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Sponsored by F.R.A.G.S. (Friends Really Against Grenade Spam), the spot has its own MLB hurler—New York Yankee CC Sabathia—and takes dead aim against MW2.
Sabathia offers that, “In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 grenade spam isn’t going to prove quite as effective as one might find in competing games of this particular genre, not with destructible buildings, adrenaline pumping weapons and more vehicles than you can count.”
The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have launched a series of new advertising codes.
The updates go into effect on September 1, 2010 and include new mandates related to videogame advertising. Radio ads for games that have an 18+ rating are listed under the “Special Category,” meaning that they must be centrally cleared by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RAAC). Other entries in this category include ads for alcohol, slimming products, gambling products and services, religious organizations, adult shops and charities.
Radio ads for 18+ rated games are also required by BCAP (PDF) to obtain “central copy clearance,” joining ads for adult shops, stripograms, escort agencies and R18+ rated videos.
The release of Madden NFL 11 this summer will mark the beginning of a new shift in policy for publisher Electronic Arts—they will sell all the in-game advertisements themselves.
Previously the company had relied on third-party in-game ad specialists, such as Massive Inc. and IGA Worldwide reports MediaWeek. EA’s Senior Vice President of Global Media Sales Elizabeth Harz said the move would allow EA to offer more elaborate,” integrated packages to advertisers.”