Advertising Games for Dummies

Game advertising is strange.  Gaming enthusiasts aren’t persuaded to buy their games through the commercials they see alone, at least not anymore.  We have press conferences, conventions, and websites, to name a few.  By the time TV ads air, it has been years after we’ve been obsessing over trailers, live streams, and media coverage.

It’s rare to view interesting or memorable TV spots for the games we’re so excited about.  But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Instead, we can remind developers that it just takes a little creativity to make an entertaining and memorable commercial for their games.

Let’s look at one of the greatest ad campaigns for gaming I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing first.  In 2011, a marketing prodigy at Electronic Arts began the “Your Mom Hates Dead Space” commercial series.  The premise was very simple: bring in mothers to view the current trailer for their newest video game Dead Space 2, and film their reactions.  Priceless and unfiltered, these moms did exactly as EA hoped.  They provided a hilarious look at a purposely violent and bloody horror game.  There is no fast food or product placement here folks.

This approach is so much more appealing compared to a heavily cut trailer with quotes from reviewers popping up everywhere.  This is because EA is focusing on both grabbing your attention and entertaining you, regardless as to whether you’re familiar with the game or not.

The Monster Hunter Tri advertising campaign is another great example.  In 2012, Capcom released the next installment of their incredibly successful Monster Hunter series in Japan for North America.  But how do you sell something that’s big in Japan in a place where it wasn’t popular yet?  Meet Ironbeard.

Ironbeard in all his glory. YouTube screengrab by me

Ironbeard in all his…bearded glory?                      YouTube screengrab by me

You sell your game by getting an awesome guy to dress up as a hunter from the game with a giant sword on his back, the flagship monster from the game in the back of his truck and send him to mall parking lots and fast food drive-thrus preaching the word of Monster Hunter to the world.  It’s so bizarre, yet simultaneously comedic, that you cannot possibly forget about Monster Hunter.  I had the honor of meeting Capcom’s marketing man at Wonder Con this past year and told him how much I enjoyed these commercials.  He laughed and replied, “Could you tell that to a few CEO’s I know?”

Last but not least, I’d like to present a gem from Nintendo themselves.  Nintendo has had a reputation for being very family friendly, but they break this image every so often.  One instance was when the original Smash Bros released and Nintendo cooked up this ad.  It isn’t long before a walk through a meadow gets old and Mario and Pikachu are never friends again, huh?  This is humorous and lighthearted enough to get Nintendo fans interested while still being memorable and worthy of the Smash Bros. legacy.

So come on game companies!  You’ve already proven your creativity!  Let’s see more of these in the future.

Colbert brings Zelda to the Late Show

As someone who consumes games media, you learn to expect certain headlines from the media outlets you follow.  Headlines such as “(Insert game you’ve been waiting years for here) delayed until 2016”, or “League of Legends character you hate playing against buffed for no reason.”

A headline I didn’t expect to see was that the phenomenal Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses orchestra would be performing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  I have no idea how this came together, or how a late show with subject matter that really isn’t games related approved this, but I’m happy it happened.

What does interest me is Symphony of the Goddesses, which I highly recommend.  This symphony has been traveling and performing since The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary several years ago.  I’ve been to two of their shows and had an absolute blast.  They play a bunch of songs and the orchestra is accompanied by a video feed of the specific title from the song they’re currently playing.  Be sure to check out their world tour schedule.

3 Video Game Composers You Should Know About

When we think back on our fondest gaming memories, more often than not we’ll remember the music that would get stuck in our heads for days and flesh out the moments that made these memories so strong in the first place.  As odd as it may sound, what we may not associate these music pieces with initially are their composers.

There are too many incredible composers to mention, but I want to highlight three every gamer should be aware of.

  1. Koji Kondo
koji kondo

Koji Kondo. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Let’s get the most obvious musician out of the way first.  Kondo is widely considered a master of his craft as well as a legend in the industry.  His resume includes countless music arrangements for Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, and the Star Fox series.  In a 2007 interview with IGN.com, Kondo was quoted as saying, “The ultimate goal for me is making music, or at least one of the main goals for me, is to create memorable melodies.  That goal is there regardless of the tools we have.”  I would imagine that Kondo’s lifetime achievement award he received in 2007 from the Game Audio Network Guild is indicative of him achieving that goal.

  1. Junichi Masuda
junichi masuda

Junichi Masuda. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Even if you’ve been trying to “catch ‘em all” since 1996, I would argue the real Pokémon master is Junichi Masuda.  Masuda has been composing music for the Pokémon series since the beginning and has been directly involved in the music for every main title.  Every cave you ventured into, every gym leader you fought and every 8-bit tune in between was scored by Masuda and his team.  If being the main composer on the series at Game Freak since 1989 wasn’t enough, Masuda also is a game designer and oversees development on new features, game scenarios and character designHis most recent role is in the newly announced Pokémon GO game for iOS and Android that is slated for release in 2016.

  1. Yoko Shimomura
Yoko_Shimomura

Yoko Shimomura. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

The final mention goes out to the highly acclaimed Yoko Shimomura.  Shimomura has a diverse resume of music on a variety of different titles rather than from any one series.  Shimomura began her career at Capcom and is responsible for the majority of tracks from Street Fighter II.  After leaving Capcom, Shimomura arranged the music for Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which boosted her popularity.  Shimomura later went on to work at Square Enix, where she was tasked with arranging music for the wildly popular Kingdom Hearts Series.  She currently is working on the music for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV.  These are just a few examples of the work Shimomura has done, and she has had one of the most successful careers in the industry.

There are many more talented artists who have composed fantastic game music.  I would encourage you to look into the people responsible for your favorite tracks.