Blog: Microsoft's banned Xbox ad and other brilliant game commercials
4th Mar 2013 | 18:15
Video game advertising has evolved since the days of child models huddled in front of their CRT televisions.
To push their latest releases in 2013, game publishers are more likely to spend their money on Hollywood endorsement and millions of dollars of CGI magic. From Atari to Modern Warfare, here are some of our favourite game tv ads from the past 30 years...
Did we miss out your favourite video game commercial? Let us know in the comments below.
2011: PlayStation Long Live Play
In one of it's greatest ever TV ads (and that's saying something), Sony's most iconic characters gather in a one dimly lit room for its Long Live Play campaign. We don't think we need convince you that live action versions of Nathan Drake, Kratos, Cole McGrath and more is cool.
1997: Sega Saturn (Segata Sanshiro)
Arguably the most amazing Sega commercial ever produced, this Saturn ad stars Segata Sanshiro, a fictional character created to promote the console in Japan. According to his blurb, "Sanshiro is a Judo master that tracks down and punishes those who do not play the Sega Saturn." RIP, Sanshiro-san.
2006: Halo 3 'Starry Night'
The all-CGI 'Starry Night' ad was aired more than 6 months ahead of Halo 3's September 2007 release date in order to drum up interest (as if the hype needed flaming). It's estimated the ad was watched by more than 8 million television viewers.
1999: PlayStation European TV Commercial: 'Double Life'
Sony's EU PlayStation ad is one of our favourites ever; the ad shows various different people of all shapes, sizes, ages, colours, genders and creeds, all united by the fact they share a second life in which they're a hero, someone who has accomplished something and, in the words of the adorable little wide-eyed hoodie kid, "conquered worlds".
2006: God Hand Japanese TV spot
As bonkers as the game itself, Capcom's Japanese God Hand commercial features a topless man with a fist for a head 'dealing justice'. There are some nice special effects in there, we're sure you'll agree.
2002: Xbox UK 'Life is Short' ad
This UK original Xbox ad - which shows a man crashing into his own grave - was banned following 136 complaints from viewers who found it "offensive, shocking and in bad taste".
2011: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Robin Williams signs up to advertise Nintendo's 3DS update along with daughter Zelda, who is named after the adventure series. Epic beard, Robin.
2011: World of Warcraft celebrity ads
Blizzard's 2011 World of Warcraft commercials featured a roster of celebrity players and their avatars, including Chuck Norris, William Shatner and Ozzy Osbourne.
1982: Atari ad featuring Morecambe and Wise (UK)
Before Ant & Dec's Wii campaign there was Morecambe and Wise pushing Atari in the UK. Whisper it: they were funnier as well.
2012: Modern Warfare 3 - 'The Vet and the N00b'
Featuring Sam Worthington, Jonah Hill and Dwight Howard, Activision's live action Modern Warfare 3 trailer teaches n00bs it's not all about running and gunning.
Chris Cunningham, the man behind cult music videos for various Björk and Aphex Twin tracks, was enlisted by PlayStation in 1999 to create a daring new TV spot. The result, called Mental Wealth, depicted a Scottish woman with an alien head discussing matters of existentialism. One thing's for sure, it was hard to get PlayStation out of your head after seeing this.
2003: Super Mario Advance 4 Japan commercial
Nintendo's Japanese Game Boy Advance commercial saw an army of Japanese children dress up as Mario characters, and even more Westerners download its accompanying song 'Hatsukoi' by Mayumi Kojima.
2006: Gears of War 2 'Mad World' ad
For Gears of War Microsoft attempted to distance its advertising from the 'macho' stance of the ultra-gorey gamel, and the result is this rather sombre pre-rendered ad featuring Gary Jules' version of the song 'Mad World'. Sniff.
1991: Zelda: A Link to the Past ad (Japan)
How do you sell Zelda to the Japanese audience? Why, cosplaying teenagers and rap music, of course!
2008: Grand Theft Auto 4
Liberty City was the real star of Grand Theft Auto 4, and what better way to show just how lifelike the city is than to have the game's leading man vacantly sauntering towards the camera, while a montage of stunning scenes plucked from everyday life in the city cycled behind him? If that wasn't cool enough: LCD Soundsystem.
2009: Kevin Butler
Kevin Butler was one of Sony's marketing masterstrokes, not only was he designed to be a no-nonsense shill for PlayStation 3, but he was also perfect fodder for sharing around social media networks and YouTube. They were well written and genuinely funny, the same can't be said of most adverts these days.
2007: Assassin's Creed
Admittedly, Ubisoft didn't have to try that hard to sell the first Assassin's Creed, one look at the hooded figure scaling towering structures in the holy land was enough to pique interest. But this trailer is proof that picking the right music can make all the difference.
1990: Super Mario Bros. 3
This early 90s Nintendo ad recreated perfectly the epic feeling of receiving a brand new 2D Mario game as a young NES owner.