The Genius in Video Game Ads
I was walking around SoHo the other day when an advertisement for the game Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) caught my eye. It was simple: four main colors, stark, and powerful. I stopped to take a good look at the artistic detail– because that’s what it is, a work of …
I was walking around SoHo the other day when an advertisement for the game Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) caught my eye. It was simple: four main colors, stark, and powerful. I stopped to take a good look at the artistic detail– because that’s what it is, a work of art.
The gaming industry isn’t talked a lot about on this blog, and especially not the branding and advertising that goes into them. It’s important not to ignore such an avenue of branding. Red Dead Redemption 2 has been under development by Rockstar Games’s 8 subsidiary studios over the course of 8 years– and the widely anticipated release is drawing a lot of attention. Almost without a doubt, RDR2 will be a huge success.
With Rockstar’s wildly popular Grand Theft Auto V, approximately $265 million was spent on development and marketing, with a release of $800 million within the first 24 hours. GTA V went on to become the third best selling video game to date and outsold the entire music industry within its first month. It’s likely that RDR2’s marketing budget is significantly higher than GTA V’s.
However, advertising for the gaming industry isn’t talked about as much as say, retail, automotive, financial services, or telecom, which are the four largest ad-spending industries (2018), respectively. It might not be the fastest growing, either. But there’s a lot that separates it from other branches of advertising.
So what’s so important about video game marketing? The crucial piece to understand is hype. Hype exists almost exclusively within the entertainment and tech industries. These two industries have two important aspects that set it aside from other industries when it comes to advertising: 1) there’s constant innovation and new content, and 2) we as consumers have a huge ability to choose in what we enjoy.
RDR2, as does many other video games, is advertised through short trailers and gameplay clips. Yet even from these, you can only really get a glimpse of the game. Instead of being a downside, this makes video games all the more exciting to play: there’s a full world to explore. Essentially what is being sold is an experience.
What about the advertising on the streets or across buses? Like movie posters, they have little information about what you’re actually buying. However, video games are a lot more expensive– RDR2 Ultimate Edition pre-order is $100. It’s comparable with fashion, concerts, and plays in terms of pricing for mass-consumer art. But those usually aren’t interactive, immersive experiences, purely for enjoyment.
I find this all pretty ingenious, how this special industry capitalizes off of its advantages by advertising through allure. You don’t really know what you’re buying until you’ve started playing the game– and by then, you’ve already shelled out sixty, or even a hundred dollars. It’s effective, and it’s changing the way we advertise.