Bad Ads Misrepresentation in Video Game Advertising

If you?re reading this, chances are you?ve been exposed to countless advertisements each year. When it comes to video ads, the television remains a major media outlet for showing off the latest groundbreaking titles and photorealistic graphics. Of course, our modern games have yet to reach true photorealism. Most games are rarely mistaken for ?real-life? footage. The transition between a living actor and a scene from a video game is still quite jarring, as most audiences can still differentiate between the two; something about the game footage just doesn?t ?look quite right.?

For this reason, it seems almost necessary for game footage to be supplemented with something extra. For a high-profile title like Mortal Kombat II, the high production values of the TV spot are clear. Live actors sprint across the screen, donning exotic costumes in a strange, appropriately ?otherworldly? environment. It?s undeniably exciting for those deeply entrenched in the MK mythos; for the uninitiated, it certainly piques curiosity psp games.

While the use of digitized sprite characters helped to distinguish the unique look of Mortal Kombat, the marketing budget is often seen as the only restraint in commercial production. As technology improved, more advanced graphics could be rendered ? at least for pre-rendered footage, if not in the game engine itself. A few short years ago, Electronic Arts thrilled audiences at the annual E3 show with their teaser trailer for the latest Madden. The players moved fluidly across a field flecked with flakes of snow, their faces richly detailed, puffing vapor as they barked in the chilly air. Surely, this was the start of the next generation everyone was hoping for.

Shortly thereafter, folks came to learn that they weren?t seeing footage of the actual game, but a computer-generated simulation. The footage was created for commercial purposes, to entice and attract the consumer. Many became irate and blamed Electronic Arts for misrepresenting their product. However, these tactics are nothing new for the industry, and there is certainly no sign of letting up. Less turbulent was the response to Halo 3?s famous Superbowl ad, which contained impressive graphics that surpassed what players were getting in the game itself. None of it mattered ? the ad captured the and atmosphere that Halo fans devoured hungrily, and many seemed to simply enjoy it for what it was.

Far greater was the fuss made over the trailer for Killzone, which underwhelmed critics and consumers alike after being promoted with ?artificial? footage. As Electronic Arts geared up for the launch of Bioware?s highly anticipated Mass Effect 2, it was obvious their marketing wasn?t about to hold back. Copious amounts of lush CGI flooded the air waves, matching and perhaps surpassing the quality of the modern theatrical blockbuster. As one of the best looking games on the market today, Mass Effect 2 shouldn?t have required much enhancement for the purpose of a short TV spot. It seems many games are expected to have explosive, pre-rendered footage these days.

It is possible that the discrepancy between in-game footage and pre-rendered cinemas has been the cause of much complaining. The most recent TV to come under fire was Dante?s Inferno, which sported exclusively pre-rendered imagery far beyond the contents of the game itself. Even if this technique becomes popular, there?s no getting past the fact that it upsets people who shell out $60 on a game, only to be disappointed that the product fell short of their expectations. Some would say this is the uglier side of misleading advertising in the game industry.

At least some companies seem to be taking responsibility for their product. Some ads show off appealing imagery, while specifically (and sometimes proudly) telling the viewer that they?re seeing ?actual gameplay footage.? Take a glance at the ads for Uncharted 2, and as anyone who has played the game can tell you, the game?s genuine graphics leave little to be desired. While not quite as immersive, such commercials effectively sample the quality of a truly great game, directly asking the consumer to look at this game, and make their own judgments.

As games become more capable of producing lavish graphics like these, the issue of ?misrepresentation? may begin to fade ? at least in terms of graphical fidelity. The ideal advertisement will capitalize on the greatest strengths of a game. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the consumer to recognize the nature of the advertisement; it is foolhardy to interpret any ad in its most literal sense. Sometimes, creative symbolism is the only way to convey the intended themes and mechanics of a video game. Whether the experience lives up to the lofty promises set by the TV spot is a matter of personal interpretation.

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