Commercials don’t always have to suck
Sometimes when we’re feeling sentimental, my friends and I will pull up compilations of old video game commercials from when we were kids and watch them for hours. Games have been around for over four decades now, and over the course of that time, there have naturally been some pretty awesome gaming advertisements.
From minimal yet effective print ads to truly bizarre commercials to murals on the sides of skyscrapers — game ads can be anything from puzzling to clever to downright inspiring. Mobile ads may have gone off the deep end, but there was a time when companies put a lot of thought and effort into their marketing.
There are plenty of lists out there ranking the best we’ve ever seen, but there are a few advertisements for video games that really stick out in my mind. Advertisements are always a kind of time capsule of the era in which they were created, which makes it really fun and nostalgic to go back and watch them again as adults. Even after skimming the surface of all the classic ads we have from games, I feel like there could be a whole field of study dedicated just to the way companies sell games to us. In some cases, they’ve completely altered the course of how we think of games to this day.
One of the campaigns that always comes to mind is the series of commercials Sony did to promote the PS3 in the mid-2000s. The real kicker there was that I didn’t even see any of them in the wild when I was a kid because I was discouraged from playing games as a young girl in the South, but they’re so good that even seeing them as an adult, they’ve stuck with me. First, there’s the iconic PS3 baby doll commercial, which captures this really creepy existential dread in a way that you just can’t ignore. It’s so weird, you can’t help but talk about it, and I for one think that makes for a great ad. Then there’s the campaign starring Kevin Butler, who was a charismatic fictitious executive character that audiences of gaming advertisements loved back in the day.
Another great ad that comes to mind is Fortnite‘s “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” commercial that Epic released in 2020, at the height of their feud with Apple. I was shocked to learn that a lot of people didn’t know that this ad was actually a shot-for-shot parody of an Apple commercial from the 1980s, which is widely considered one of the best ads of all time. I have to give it props for being so clever, and who doesn’t love some petty corporate drama?
Because I am admittedly biased in their favor, I’ve also been a huge fan of the series of ads that the K-pop girl group Twice did for the Nintendo Switch. They’re adorable, the games they’re playing are adorable, and knowing my favorite console is approved by my favorite musical artists just gives me the warm and fuzzies. I usually don’t fall prey to celebrity endorsement, but I just can’t help it with them.
So we wanna know — what are some of your favorite video game advertisements of all time, regardless of medium? What are the commercials that have really stuck with you over the years? Have you ever felt compelled to buy a game or console specifically because it had a great ad? Let’s discuss below!