5 Gloriously Stupid Times Video Games Tried To Sell You Crap
Video game companies employ hundreds of hardworking artists, designers, and writers to make players feel like they really are an annoying bandicoot or a giant-breasted treasure hunter in a fully realized universe. But that universe can come undone in an instant when a game turns into a crass advertisement for products from the real world. For example ...
Uncharted Reminds Us That Real Adventurers Eat Fresh And Keep In Touch With Sony!
Have you ever watched Uncharted's Nathan Drake creep through a French chateau and wondered how he manages to keep his ass so finger-snappingly tight?
Sand can't even squeeze through those tight cheeks. Mmm!
Well, it's the same secret that allowed Jared Fogle cut down to his pedophilia weight: eating fresh.
Try the new Dune Diarrhea Dew! Only 870 grams of sugar per serving, and nearly one serving in a 30-ounce cup!
That's right, Drake got his buns from Subway. Uncharted 3 partnered with the popular soggy-meat factory and seafood salad preservation society to promote the game's multiplayer mode. If you bought one foot of sandwich together with a heart-clogging 30 oz soda, you got to play a month of Uncharted 3 multiplayer. It was a pretty standard cross-promotional sweepstakes, but it got weird when you played the game itself.
Once you had the game in your mayo-soaked fingers, you'd soon realize that your avatar certainly had a lot of Subway-inspired customization options. These included things like T-shirts, but also a bizarre "five-dollar footlong" taunt, which was less an insult and more an informative analysis of exactly how much the sandwich in question would cost and its approximate size. Assuming Subway wasn't illegally short-subbing you, of course. Can you imagine someone snapping your neck, and the last thing you see before you die is them performing a sandwich commercial for you?
What better way to advertise than with a 12-year-old screaming racial slurs and murdering you?
Fast-forward to Uncharted 4, in which Nate does what all good heroes do: He calls his wife to lie to her. In that scene, the camera sits for a good five seconds on a vibrating Sony phone, sitting face-down with the gorgeous, high-quality Sony logo in center frame.
Sony: "When you are being betrayed, call on Sony."
Later on, smartphones play a vital part in the plot, as Nate uses his to text and send photos to his brother. And what else would he use but the reliable, crystal-clear screen of a SONY.
"This puzzle is fucking impossible. You know anything about matching shapes, Sam?" -- Sent from my powerful enough for business, but made for fun Sony smartphone.
"Dude, I think my three-year-old has that toy. You shitty idiot." -- Sent from my just regular phone.
The villain only finds the next clue in the plot because he hacks these stylish but professional Sony phones. To ensure such a thing never happens again, Nate smashes his to death. Which is admittedly a strange turn to take in your product placement. Sony phones: great for lying to your wife, vulnerable to hacks, and now easier to destroy than ever!
Final Fantasy XV Wants You To Buy Cheap Noodles And Expensive Dresses
The Final Fantasy games are no strangers to whoring their characters to third parties to sell stuff. FFVII's Cloud flogged outdated phones, XII's Lightning became a supermodel for Louis Vuitton, and Snow inexplicably erased a human driver from a Nissan and took his place. But the most recent Final Fantasy installment, XV, took this to new heights by featuring product placement in the game itself.
The game has a bizarre fixation on cooking, and you often stop what you're doing to buy or forage for ingredients to make hearty, often complicated meals for party stat bonuses. So when you first see Cup Noodles show up, it's not very jarring. Final Fantasy has dragons, guns, cars, and the world gets bathed in lasers and fire every time someone summons an Esper. Finding out they have the same food as us isn't crazy.
Shit, if cheap ramen boosts your HP, then we're immortal.
But when your sexy, sexy teammate straight up gives you a sales pitch on how amazing Cup Noodles are, it's clear your world-saving adventure is being hijacked by a commercial. Real quote: "Then, if you take something already delicious, like Cup Noodles, and add in the finest, freshest ingredients, what do you get? The ultimate flavor experience!"
Yeah, that's a physique built off of the back of deep-fried noodles and soup broth.
What started as a subtly placed ad gets dragged kicking and screaming in front of your face. This is a full-on side quest, with experience and everything. If you watch the video, you're probably thinking, "Man, voice acting in games is still terrible and devoid of emotion." Well, that was intentional. The voice actors were aware of what obvious shills they were being, so they purposely recorded a bland version in protest. And the game still used that take. It instantly became one of the worst moments in Square voice acting history, which is saying something.
So noodles are endorsed by muscley hunks, chefs say it can't be beaten, and they give you and your fellow coeurl fighters a decent stat boost. In our universe, those would be absurd claims. But somehow, in a world in which every insane idea from 35 different games coexist, they are even more absurd.
More effort went into these billboards than the last five hours of the game.
But as stereotypical as it sounds, selling noodles to gamers makes a depressing sort of sense. The two have gone hand in hand for years. But you know what sort of doesn't? Video games and designer dresses. The Venn diagram of Final Fantasy fans and luxury designer female clothing is probably nothing but Emma Stone bragging about how big of a nerd she is during a press junket. However, when you arrive in your fiancee's city, you get a side quest to look at her wedding dress. It's weird, but so is everything in this game. When you finally find the dress, there's some subtle product placement. Can you spot it?
Do you need us to slow the GIF down?
This game included a full panning shot of a Vivienne Westwood store, with NPCs standing around gawking. By the way, the plot is about an expansive fascist military armed with robots and monsters who are killing the gods and daylight. Your teammate is fine with it. He joins in on the wedding dress advertisement and says, "Everyone looks so happy. And it's all because of this one dress." Who writes nonsense like this? The dress is the only thing giving the world hope? No wait. A world descending into catastrophe, and the only thing anyone cares about is a celebrity wedding? We take it back, this is the most realistic thing in gaming history.
Fight Night 3 Plastered Burger King Everywhere
Throughout history, corporate advertising and sports have always gone together like anti-depressants and visiting your in-laws -- the former makes the latter possible. Boxing is no different. In order to ensure they profit from two millionaires beating the shit out of each other, companies will plaster arenas with logos and ads. It can sometimes be so distracting that it's a wonder boxers are still allowed to drink water between rounds and not plunge into a refreshing pool of Crystal Light.
With that in mind, you might not think much of Fight Night Round 3 featuring Burger King logos right in the middle of the boxing ring. It's strange for boxing to advertise a product that would squirt out of every hole in your body if you were punched after eating it, but it's not insane. Where it gets insane is when the game gives you the option of being trained by the Burger King. Not just a dude wearing a Burger King hat; the actual supernatural mascot who fleshlessly sneaks into people's bedrooms to give them burgers they didn't ask for. And in this game, all eight feet of him walks you down to the ring. It's a nightmare.
"OK, you lose, I eat your soul. You win, I eat your soul ... Look it's gonna happen."
On top of that, players can snag a massive 100 Gamerpoints merely for participating in a Burger King event, during which the player will be pummeled furiously by Burger King ads like they're a slab of practice meat in Rocky's freezer. You don't have to make any effort or anything, you simply have to show up (coincidentally, this is Burger King's slogan). Usually those sort of points are reserved for extremely difficult achievements -- like in Gears Of War 3, in which the 100-point achievement required you to leave your family and play only Gears Of War 3 for the rest of your life. Why not make it 150 points if they send everyone on their friends list a private message that says, "I will die of cancer if you don't eat a Whopper! Get it your way! Thanks!"
"It's a great night for burgers with the burger title on the line in Burger Stadium! Hi, I'm Burger Burger, joined by my burger partner, BURGER! BUUURGER! I c-can't stBURGER! Burger!!! BURGEEERRRRR!!!!"
Battlefield 2142 Wants To Sell You Ghost Rider On DVD, Blu-ray, And PSP
When a game is set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of 2142, it's weird to promote the summer's lukewarmest DVD release from 135 years ago. But that's exactly what happened in Battlefield 2142. Amid the ruinous war zones, you might come across immaculate ads for Nicolas Cage's 84th most acclaimed movie.
Future soldiers are apparently avid antique collectors.
This and other movie billboards have survived the game's cataclysmic ice age to spread across the globe. Whether you're invading the Arabian Peninsula or trudging through Northern France, century-old DVDs will be marketed to you. Maybe companies were trying to shift their inventory before nuclear Armageddon upset the stock market, or maybe home DVD libraries enjoyed a resurgence among the hipster armies of the year 2142 AD -- or as they probably call it, 135 AGR ("After Ghost Rider").
A dynamic advertising system in the game meant these billboards would update from time to time, so within the game's world, it was as if they were still in active use, but only to sell ancient relics, and almost certainly maintained by sorcerers. It's a world with scarce food and water, the air is 7 percent bullet, and someone still manages to swap out the wasteland billboards for 0-era films like I Am Legend.
"My great-great-grandfather spoke of this film, based on the book enjoyed by my great-great-great-great-grandfather."
The game's military could be interested in purchasing DVDs to keep the troops entertained, but a lot of them (especially Doomsday and I Am Legend) are of the post-apocalyptic genre. Why would a soldier who's stuck in a harrowing post-apocalyptic setting want the opposite of escapism? EA insisted that the system provided a "realistic" and "contextually relevant" brand presence. This sounds believable until you crash your two-legged mechastrider into a freshly constructed billboard for a gaming PC manufactured over a century ago.
"Intel Core 2 Extreme? My gauss tank's clock uses a Core 1700 Radtasm."
Metal Gear Solid Thinks Murderers Are Great Designer Eyewear Spokesmen
The Metal Gear Solid games also have a long legacy of product placement, what with 3's noodles, 4's iPod, Peace Walker's anachronistic Mountain Dew and Doritos, or Twin Snakes literally having Mario and Yoshi's asses center-frame. And who can forget that MGS2 was an extended advert for this awesome idea for a ninja, only cyber, named Raiden.
In Metal Gear Solid 5, this shameless trend continued. After escaping a hospital and getting chased by a flaming unicorn, a giant flying whale, and a psychic kid, the game sends you to rescue your second-in-command, Kazuhira Miller. Kaz has signature aviator glasses, so before heading out, you grab a pair for him. It's the kind of cute self-reference Metal Gear is known for, and it gets immediately ruined because the glasses have their own credits:
Starring Gary Oldman in the role of a lifetime as Kaz's Sunglasses, brought to you by J.F. Rey Eyewear and Fruit by the Foot Pineapple Clam Swirl.
Had it have just been "Kaz's Aviators," then this could be chalked up to MGS's patented wackiness. Which it sort of does, but that is in the small font beneath the far more obvious "J.F. Rey Eyewear." But if you're going for "cute reference" and your audience thinks, "Wait, is this a commercial? Is J.F. Rey a character I forgot about? It probably stands for Justice Fox Rey. Is Solid Snake going to end up being Justice Fox this entire time? I should probably draw Justice Fox fucking Sonic the Hedgehog."
It turns out J.F. Rey is the brand of choice for series creator Hideo Kojima. He and J.F. teamed up to sell glasses while making one of the most feature-intensive video games in human history. It comes up a few more times as well, like in this scene, in which Revolver Ocelot is sporting a pair which end up missing "cool" and landing squarely in "grandma coming back from the eye doctor."
He's a Russian cowboy who meows like a cat, and even he can't pull them off.
Indeed, the dream team of video game designer and sunglasses salesman came up with six signature shades in total -- the two we mentioned and four that Kojima, who himself appears in the game, would have worn. Unfortunately, not all of them ended up in the game, most likely because Kojima parted ways with the studio before he completed his vision. Presumably, if he had his way, there would have been a three-hour mission during which Kaz and Ocelot try on different sunglasses, each sillier than the last, until they find the perfect pair!
Seriously, the man seems really into sunglasses.
It's weirdly inappropriate to stop an infiltration mission to pose for glamour shots, but it's extra inappropriate in this game. These aren't "good guys." The game is about man's slow descent into villainy. Human lives are cogs in a military industrial complex that will eventually grind us all into blood. Snake hides nuclear weapons from the UN and kills thousands of men. Kaz is so warped by torture that he is made entirely out of hate. And Ocelot's favorite two things are shooting people and torture. They represent the weakness and evil of men! So, kids, buy their fave shades?
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