The Best and Worst of Game Marketing
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The Best and Worst of Game Marketing

Nowadays there are a million and one ways to sell anything and companies have no problem shamelessly advertising in every medium possible (ever seen a Michael Bay movie?).  It didn’t take advertisers long to realize that video games were a great way to interact with consumers while pushing the product or brand. In fact by the early 1990s it was in full effect. Below you will find some of the best marketing based video games of the 90s with an in your face advertising angle.

Sega Game Gear - 90s


Game Boy



Atari


Arcade


As if Volkswagen needed another advertisement


When you hear “Beetle Racing Adventure” you likely think of a somewhat educational child’s game in which insects race for one reason or another. In this case — and probably ONLY in this case—you’d be wrong. In 1999 the marketers at Volkswagen decided to jump on the video-game bandwagon and promoted their new Beetles that had released a year earlier. In this “adventure” every driver is behind the wheel of a VW Beetle and they are out to collect six differently colored lady bugs before their competitors. It really doesn’t get any more “in your face” than this, but gamers claimed the Nintendo 64 game was not as cheesy as it sounds. GameSpot gave it an 8.5 rating and stated “it was a great deal of fun.” You might have to play it to believe it.

There weren’t enough James Bond movies so we made a game

1997 saw the release of another 007 installment only this time as a videogame that expanded on the film GoldenEye. Believe it or not there had been nine James Bond video games prior to the ’97 release, but each saw little success (I wonder if it had anything to do with 80s technology?). GoldenEye worked as an added layer to the film by expanding on the storyline and further developing the plot and people loved it. It sold more than 8 million copies and had a host of positive reviews. Unlike its predecessors, the Nintendo 64 GoldenEye, introduced a multiplayer split-screen option as opposed to just the single-player first-person shooter format.  Those in the  “gameosphere” say this game trail blazed the way for first-person shooting  games like Call of Duty, as it introduced features  like stealth elements, varied mission objectives, and a more realistic style of game play. Well done Mr. Bond!

How about... Super Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (1992), came SUPER Star Wars! Do not let the lame name fool you. This game, developed for Super Nintendo, was a hit and it’s no surprise—Star Wars fans are intense.  For the most part the game follows the plot of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and includes short scenes between levels to tell the story. Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the game both Best Movie-to-Game and Best Action/Adventure game of 1992.

The Disney Marke-teers strike again


In the 90s when you thought of Disney you certainly didn’t think of their made for TV franchises like Darkwing Duck, and maybe they were aware of that. Giving the series a small promotional shove, Disney collaborated with Capcom and Super Nintendo and Darkwing Duck the game was born. For the most part it was  jumping and shooting, and consisted  of six levels. In each Darkwing had to fend off a different villain to get to Steelbeak the super-villain and save the city. It was one of many, many Disney games and it was a great success. Developed for small children, the game became a huge hit with teenagers and was later adapted into a Nintendo 64 version.

While some blatant marketing ploys go oh-so well, others go shamefully down in history…

Wayne’s World

Wayne’s World the game for Nintendo features a laser gun wielding Garth and Wayne who uses his guitar’s sound waves as a weapon to fend off villains like “robo Elvis,” in each level.  Looking back on game blogs and review pages it is clear that NO ONE liked this poor game. Flux magazine, a 90s mag for comic book and game enthusiast, voted the game the 19th worst video game of all time. Wayne’s World fans—and there are a lot of them—go as far as to say it makes you “want to find the guy that did it and rip the still beating heart out of his chest.” Ouch!

Cliffhanger


It’s a 1993 Sylvester Stallone film in which he, dressed in practically nothing, runs around the snowy tops of the Rocky Mountains to recover a suitcase full of money from an in-air-heist. Now take a deep breath after taking all that in and picture it as an early 90s video game. This 3-star Stallone film was voted Worst Movie-to-Game of 1994 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. The game sticks very closely to the plot--which says a little something about the movie--and pits Stallone’s character Gabe against a band of money stealing terrorists who have shot down an FBI plane, stolen US treasury funds and taken his partner hostage in return for the recovered money.  All the “fun” of the film; none of the cinematic magic to make it the slightest bit good.

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Author Bio: Ricardo Casas is the CEO and founder of Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin web design firm. Fahrenheit Marketing provides its clients with a full range of online marketing capabilities including website development, search engine optimization, and mobile app design.