As video game releases typically go, the hottest games usually come out towards the end of the year to greet holiday shoppers. With the holiday season right around the corner, we’re starting to see a lot of television ads from big name studios making their final push towards making their way into your homes. TV spots are unique in nature due to their cost, length, audience, and most often are completely new rather than cut from previous video ads. This can make them more exciting, if done properly. So let’s get to it, starting with the king of the holiday season: Grand Theft Auto V.
Grand Theft Auto V - “The Official Trailer” TV Spot
“The Official Trailer” does a great job revealing all three main characters while not spoiling anything about them. Michael takes the front seat of the trailer and gives us a little interesting back story but there isn’t enough to ruin anything. Overall, the advert represents GTAV very well. It also doesn’t hurt when you have an awesome track like “Sleepwalking” by the Chain Gang of 1974 adding to the action. I’m not ashamed to say that I immediately listened to the complete track a few times after first seeing the ad. The short action scenes play nicely in the trailer, showcasing the variety of things the player can do in GTAV. The trailer didn’t have to do much for Rockstar to move copies, but the fact they showed us a quality trailer filled with actual gameplay is a testament to the quality of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Zambezi does a great job showcasing NBA 2K14 and its main star, LeBron James. The fact that the ad touts the use of in-game footage is also welcome. Beginning the trailer by transitioning between a CGI James and a real one creates the illusion of uniformity that leads into displaying next-gen footage. The only games that can pull this off are the ones confident enough in their graphics. This year, NBA Live plans to make a return with NBA Live 14 and contend with the 2K series. But with the next-gen versions of LeBron James and James Harden looking this good, it’s not hard to argue who the reigning champ of the virtual hardwood is (also I love Chris Bosh getting dunked on by Andre Iguodala, welcome to the Warriors).
Beyond: Two Souls – “Guilt” TV Spot
For a game like Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls, there’s really only one way to spin the ad: turn it into a movie trailer. The trailer begins with Ellen Page’s character, Jodie Holmes, giving the audience a short monologue with scenes matching her words, at the same time presenting highly awarded actors, and later shifting to split-second scenes that go along with the music of the trailer. I’ll start off by saying I’m not a big fan of trailers like this, mainly because it’s not the most creative approach. In fact it’s congesting too many varying scenes that doesn’t adequately give the audience any clue of what’s actually going on, especially with the accompanied fast-paced music. The ad doesn’t leave a lasting impression, but with award-winning composers Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe collaborating on the score; the soundtrack will be undoubtedly great. So all that’s left is for the scenes to make sense but in the case of this trailer we’re actually in the same position as Jodie, not knowing what’s going to happen next.
The effect of this ad is two-fold: promote Taco Bell while at the same time hyping the launch of the PlayStation 4. Deutsch does a nice job with creativity here playing with the target audience of the ad by saying: if you’re not early you’re late. The creativity is also present in the content itself by creating a scene suggesting a sci-fi shooter taking place in an apocalyptic war zone. So why not just use an established PS4 title? My guess is that all parties involved didn’t want one of Sony’s titles prominently displayed for the ad in order to appeal to a broader audience, especially when the action game Knack is the $5 box’s prized game. The scene actually feels like it borrows from elements from Destiny (space ships), Killzone: Shadow Fall (red eyes), and The Order: 1886 (architecture). It’s also funny how this ad is eerily reminiscent of the “Greatness Awaits” campaign by BBH, perhaps it’s the subtle cool tone. What this ad doesn’t tell you however, is when you actually receive your PlayStation 4. It’s a bit misleading this way by stating there’s a winner every 15 minutes when in fact winners won’t receive their PS4 until around November 12, 2013. But really who reads the fine print? (I do apparently).
Those who play Pokémon have been playing for ages. Even for those that haven’t, they probably know the Pokémon formula: “Gotta catch ‘em all”. It’s funny, Nintendo actually retired the slogan back in 2003 but everyone still remembers it which was a reason for its comeback in last month. Okay, maybe there’s more to the Pokémon formula than I led on, but you know it anyway: catch Pokémon to battle other Pokémon to become the best Pokémon trainer. So what can you say about a new Pokémon game? If I wasn’t up to date with the Pokémon series I would love for a commercial to inform me on what’s different, and the “I Dreamed” campaign by Leo Burnett does exactly that. We dream what we long for. It sells on the idea that players have been wanting and “dreaming” all these features that’s not only new in the new Pokémon X/Y but they’ve been missing! The only quibble I have is with the ad showing the CGI Pokémon, the sudden camera zoom out revealing the girl riding a CGI Gogoat, makes me chuckle every time.
Madden NFL is the cash cow of sports games in the United States. Regardless of what the ad does, the game will sell. For as long as I can remember, Madden NFL ads have always contained humor and it works for them. Madden NFL 25 focuses on the dynasty that is, Madden NFL. The August spot “Running Back Sons” began with this idea: from the beginning, the reason for getting into the NFL originated from their true driving passion of wanting to be in Madden NFL. It’s a clever idea that works well with the Madden legacy. The “Summer Camp” ad creates a humorous story about San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and their chance meeting at a summer camp. Both vowing to enter the NFL so that they can someday beat each other with each other, in Madden. The ad reminds me a lot of the Old Spice ads from Wieden+Kennedy, especially during the training sequences. At this point the commercial really just pokes fun at itself with how ridiculous it’s being and you can’t help but laugh along with it. I also enjoy the bicep kiss at the end. An ad 25 years in the making.
I wasn’t a big fan the first time I saw this ad on TV. Why are they in a desert? Why’s Drake in here? Endorsements are lazy. Then I actually gave the ad my full attention, for the purpose of this article actually, and I enjoyed it quite a bit more. I’ll start off by saying I’m a big fan of FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. I didn’t really notice it was him until the end of the commercial and chuckled a bit, especially since the other cover athletes Javier “Chicharito“ Hernandez and Gareth Bale take a backseat (literally). But that’s not why I like the ad. After giving it some more thought, I liked the lasting impression I got from it; being able to enjoy FIFA from anywhere, from the living room to a hospital room. Then I thought, why the desert? Well, if you can play FIFA anywhere why not the desert? Touché W+K.
Late October and November (the golden month for the industry) has some highly anticipated games releasing such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, WWE 2K14, Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, expect some big name ads to hit your set in a few days.
What did you think of the ads? Did they represent the game well or were they just fluff? Leave a comment and let me know which one you liked and if I missed any!