We all know that the giants of the video game industry -Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) are trying to morph their craft into something bigger: an actual form of entertainment and not just a useless pastime for nerds. Nintendo has created the Wii and DS, easily used systems with a myriad of simple, fun games that appeal to everyone, even parents and gradparents (granted they have somewhat abandoned the hardcore gamer, but that's a totally different story and totally different arguement). Microsoft and Sony, on the other hand, have pushed XBL and PSN with online phenomenas like Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Gears of War and MGS, transforming average gamers or into junkies, while appealing to the hardcore simoultaneously. They have tried to do this by making games more like movies - they've added gripping stories complete with amazing cutscenes that keep you on the edge of your seat and slobbering for a sequel once you've beat the first edition a hundred times. However, we haven't seen the type of advertisement movies get in video games. While nearly every movie gets television exposure, video game companies have stuck mainly to online and newspaper ads. Until of course the next gen consoles came into being - it seems as though we are stuck in the midst of an epic battle between the monsters of the game industry to see who can first escort the art of video games to the next level of entertainment.
There were of course the occasional video game commercials - perhaps you'd see one for Madden, Pokemon, or maybe even Star Wars Battlefront, but these all had a couple things in common. First, they were developed by big-time publishers (EA, LucasArts) with money to throw out the window, or were already insanely popular (football, Star Wars, and Pokemon had seemd to seep out of the hardcore gamers hands by word of mouth, maye because it had been around so long). Perhaps both. Anyone in the last generation of gaming TV ads were few and far between.
Then as I mentioned earlier, the next-gen consoles were released. Now, slowly, you began to see their commercials silently sneak onto your TV screen. You see a couple Japanese dudes take a Wii around to the obscure corners of the earth, sharing it's joy with people of every race, age, and gender. Or perhaps you see a commercial for the 360, showing to the world how XBL lets you connect and play with friends and family all over the world at any time. Or, finally, you saw the graphical power of the PS3 unveiled with commercials for sports games, showing off insanely life-like player models in realistic atmospheres. A small step, but noteworthy.
Then, eventually you see commercials for games. It all started with that oh so epic scene in which MasterChief, decked out in his Spartan armor, valiantly leaps into battle against mysterious covenant forces in the middle of nowhere. Then Call of Duty came around, with commercials with spec ops soldiers running around, stuff getting blown up, and promotions for the game all being showcased on a sickly night-vision green screen.
Now, just recently I've seen another step. Like commercials for movies you never even knew existed, commercials for unpopular harcore games have emerged from the pockets of their developers. Gears of War two actually had a sneak-peak promotion on Sunday night football, showing Delta squad preparing to go into battle. It didn't show any combat, but how could they advertise that kind of gore on a nationally televised football game? Resistance 2 and Fallout 3 have commercials all over the place. The other day I even saw one for Mirror;s Edge,depitcing a high speed chase on the rooftops of a futuristic city, all from first person.
So, we all know the motives for these commercials, but what exactly will this do to the industry? Will the average gamers who stick to CoD4 and Halo 3 be enamored by how awesome Fallout 3 and Resistance 2 look? Will the person newly introduced to the addicting hobby quit playing Wii sports and actually buy a real game? Will even more people be drawn to this form of entertainment? What do you think?