Top 10 video games that abused product placement
SCG counts down 10 games that took advertising too far
Image borrowed from http://www.nature.com
Throughout the years that video games have existed, advertisers have tried to find ways of taking advantage of their popularity.
From adding game logos to billboards in-game, to having sponsorship sweepstakes, to downright advertising through in-game items, characters or levels, ads in games aren’t a new thing for those of us who have gamed for a long time.
But sometimes advertisers take it way too far. SCG takes you on a trip down memory lane with 10 games that took advertising to a sickening level. Let us know in the comments below if you agree with us, disagree with us or if you can think of any that we’ve missed.
10. Burger King games (Xbox, Xbox 360)
With any console launch, the library of games is usually pretty bare for the first couple months. To help solve this when the Xbox 360 launched, Burger King teamed up with Microsoft to create three games, which could be purchased at the many locations of the fast-food chain alongside a value meal or separately. Think of it as sort of a Happy Meal for gamers. The one good thing was that these games could be played on Xbox or Xbox 360, making the transition to the new system a little less painful since buyers would already have some games to play. The bad thing about it was that they weren’t very good.
Click the jump to see the rest of the list:
9. Toyota Yaris (XBLA)
As in the example above with The Sims 3, Toyota hasn’t been shy about advertising through games, but a free Xbox Live Arcade title promoting its new Yaris in 2007 took it a step too far. It wasn’t a bad game, but it was far too obvious that it only served one purpose.
8. Yo! Noid (NES) (Domino’s Pizza)
Back in the old days, advertising in games wasn’t something that was off-limits. This NES title called Yo! Noid was a game surrounding the then Domino’s Pizza mascot where players were tasked with playing as the Noid and outrunning the evil forces that the mayor put out to stop him. It was actually a really fun game, but once again the point here was clear.
7. Pepsiman (PS1)
Released in Japan, Pepsiman for the PlayStation was a game all about, well, Pepsi. In this game, which now strongly resembles a Flash-based title, players played as Pepsiman and ran around the city trying to collect as much Pepsi as possible. If that doesn’t make you thirsty for Pepsi, I don’t know what will.
6. Sour Patch Kids (PSN, XBLA)
Though one would think these types of games would have died off back in the 90s, they’re still around. Recently released Sour Patch Kids: World Gone Sour was a PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade release where players played in the world of those sweet and sour gummies. That is, the three people who actually bought the game. We kid, but the game is pretty terrible. Too bad it doesn’t go from sour to sweet like the kids do; that would have been awesome.
5. McKids (NES) (McDonald’s)
One of the only games on the list that I actually liked is McKids, an NES title advertising McDonald’s. In the game, players play as one of two kids trying to save McDonald land…or something. I never really got too far back in the day because I wasn’t as good at games as I am now. Not everyone liked the game though. In the video below, Angry Video Game Nerd points out all the game’s flaws in his most-colorful way. However, like a Chicken McNugget that isn’t actually made of chicken, I still love it.
4. Doritos (XBLA)
Doritos has released four adver-games on Xbox Live Arcade, all part of a contest where entrants submitted game ideas and then developers made games using the winning ideas. Dash of Destruction, Harm’s Way, Crash Course and Crash Course 2 are all free on XBLA and you know what? They’re all pretty good. In fact, in three of the four, the advertising really isn’t even that clear. Still, to hold a national contest to make a game with its only purpose being advertising is what we call taking it too far.
3. 7-Up’s Cool Spot (Sega Genesis)
While not the only 7-Up game, Cool Spot was a pretty horrible experience. The game basically has players playing as 90s 7-Up mascot, Spot, and collecting other…spots? The irony is that the game is bad enough to make players sick to their stomachs, and most people drink 7-Up when they’re sick. Maybe that was the point?
2. Kool-Aid Man (Atari 2600)
We told you that advertising games weren’t just a newer craze. In fact, this Atari 2600 Kool-Aid game features a barely recognizable Kool-Aid man going on an adventure to, you guessed it, advertise Kool-Aid.
1. M&M’s (Wii, Various)
It is an inarguable fact that M&M’s are one of the best candies on the market. But when it comes to advertisement-based video games, Mars has proven that they should really stop associating their brand with them. The cart racing game on the Wii is probably one of the worst games ever created. Not only do they steal ideas from other games (see: make almost exact clones), they somehow manage to screw them up. And it doesn’t end there. Here are a couple of examples: