Video game marketing: Anything goes, but nobody cares

In the most recent Hitman Absolution promotional trailer the protagonist Agent 47 brutally kills some stripper nuns.  Unsurprisingly, various sources have condemned the trailer as gratuitous, over sexualised and exploitative.  I’m not debating that.  And as Keza MacDonald of ign wrote, it well and truly is ‘violence porn’.

This type of imagery is not new for the video game industry and could be considered a somewhat typical (albeit slightly extreme).  However, does anybody really care anymore?

The target market for these multi-million dollar releases has arguably become desensitised to this type of ‘confronting’ imagery.  This market spends their time finding inventive ways of killing people on in the virtual world to a backdrop of vulgar and sexualised imagery.

Take the Call of Duty series for example.  In Modern Warfare 2, you play through a scene in which a Russian terrorist group guns down unarmed an airport full of unarmed civilians. And in its sequel, you watch a small child get blown away by a car bomb.

In Resident Evil 5 you are rewarded for shooting unarmed, diseased Africans and it’s a quiet day in Grand Theft Auto if you only run down two elderly people on your way to sell some stolen cocaine.

People will jump on their soap boxes and high horses and complain that video game studios and the marketing arms are going too far – but is anybody actually listening to them complain?  No.  Some of the most profitable games of recent years – the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto series for example, are those which have had sensationalist and exploitative subject matter and marketing.  These types of games and marketing won’t stop until people stop opening their wallets.

Simply put it works and video game marketers know it.  For products like this, being sensationalist is a low risk marketing strategy and one which keeps paying off.

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

One Response to Video game marketing: Anything goes, but nobody cares

  1. It’s low-risk, sure, but it’s also not doing anything to expand the reach of these games.
    It’s also kind of re-assuring to see people complaining about this type of marketing. People are bored of it. People have moved on from such simple tactics.

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