UK game advertising: Our Super Bowl moment

Whilst watching the recent Champions league final, I must admit to being a little surprised at the heavy advertising of video-games, which even contained trailer premiers. Sure, video-games have come a long way and feature heavily in the mainstream of entertainment but this illustrated that gaming is now one of the top forms of entertainment.

For the first time, the UK experienced what is probably best described as a ‘Super Bowl’ moment, when a range of major brands chose to invest millions of pounds. Reports suggest that it was estimated that ITV made in excess of £8m in TV ad revenue during Europe’s biggest football night of the year, as some late spots in key breaks went for up to £300,000 for 30 seconds.

Saturday night prime time advertising space featured full trailers for Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and even Brink got a mention too. What is strangest about this aggressive video-game marketing technique is how unique this form of advanced advertising actually is, especially considering how seldom we see big budget adverts on our TV screens for even summer blockbuster movies 4-5 months before they are officially released.

Gaming retailers have been quick to react to this pre-release hype. The old days of walking into a game shop on your high street handing over your money and walking off quite happy with your purchase have long gone. Instead when at the checkout you are greeted with an A4 sheet and offered a chance to pre-order a game that won’t be available for another five months. Maybe this is a way of putting the nail in the coffin of the supermarkets who are rapidly encroaching on their business by selling games at a loss on release day.

1 million pre-orders and counting for Gears 3…

Already retailers online are also heavily promoting the big pre-orders and here are the best prices for those that simply cannot wait for the big three.

  • Gears Of War 3 £33.91 with code “15WYS10-1″ at Tesco released 20th Sept 2011.
  • Battlefield 3: Limited Edition £33.90 With code “15MAY-1″ at Tesco Entertainment released 21st October 2011.
  • Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 £35.99 with code “JSCOD820″ at Sainbury’s released 8th November 2011.

No surprise to see the supermarkets leading the way, but it’s somewhat baffling that gamers will part with so much money already when they will probably be able to pick up in store for much cheaper on release day. Don’t even get me started on people paying nearly £50 at GAME… but that’s another story.

Although it’s not all good news, any form of mainstream entertainment will have a common enemy or arch nemesis and I am talking of course about the dreaded Daily Mail. When not reporting worse case scenarios as fact, the Mail love nothing more than creating a media storm in a gaming teacup with the all too familiar headline of “Ban this sick filth!”.

Hey look kids, there’s Big Ben, and there’s Parliament.

The Daily Mail, who many now see as the ultimate internet troll, desperately try to get sensationalist attention and reaction from people, said that Modern Warfare 3 has a chilling echo of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London and that people affected by the 7/7 bombings in London are calling for MW3 to be banned. This seemed to suggest that they watched the trailer, decided to create a big story by ringing up people and asked them leading questions to get the reaction that they require, or maybe I’m just a cynical fool.

The fact that games now have similar budgets to big Hollywood film releases, armed complete with teaser trailers and prime time advertising slots, five months before the game is scheduled to be released does suggest even to non-believers out there that gaming is a pretty big deal and just how much home entertainment has changed.

Maybe just maybe one of the reasons that video-games are attacked so often in the media is because people are rapidly turning their back on the traditional forms of entertainment such as TV, Radio, and even print media, leaving people in those mediums faced with the realisation that the typical nuclear family is quickly getting out of their reach.

The irony here is that mainstream media has spent decades telling the public that the world is too dangerous out there and to stay in their houses lock the doors so they can be spoon-fed the latest adverts of things you don’t actually need. This very advice is now working against them.

Could Battlefield 3 overthrow the CoD regime this year?

We are living in very exciting and transitional time for home entertainment but I do fear that by having many months of hype for a game, the end product could end up a major disappointment. Take the recent release of Brink for example. With instances like this, the six months of pre-release hype lasted longer than people actually played the game, especially considering many Brink owners traded in their copy for LA Noire only a week after purchasing.

Could long periods of hype, teaser trailers and slowly leaked snippets of information in cleverly orchestrated marketing campaigns ultimately lead to gamers feeling disillusioned with the final product? What are your thoughts on pre-ordering games five months in advance?

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