10 Bizarre Marketing Campaigns Used To Promote Video Games

Marketing campaigns are everywhere. They are used to promote anything and everything which you’re familiar with the usual attempts. The occasional commercial, pop up advertisement, billboards, you know the common ways to showcase an upcoming release or brand new product. However, some marketing teams attempt to go a bit bigger and offer a new way to promote their product. In this list, we’re going to tell you about some of the most bizarre attempts to promote games and consoles over the years. Take note that these campaigns are not ranked in any particular order.


#10 Dead Space 2

Dead Space is a well-known horror franchise today and while we only got three main installments, the marketing for Dead Space 2 was rather odd. EA decided the best way to show just how over the top terrifying the sequel to Dead Space was going to be is through sharing reactions to mothers. This was done by bringing in a selection of mothers and filming them as they watch snippets of gory moments with grotesque monsters. Obviously, the best reactions and disdain of the game got selected for a marketing commercial release.


#9 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is huge there’s no getting around it. Years after its release and the Bethesda team is still putting the game out on new consoles. It’s not surprising when someone names their child after being inspired by an entertainment medium. However, the Bethesda team thought it was a good idea to help you out. If you’re a fan of Bethesda then you may have already been interested in Skyrim, but Bethesda wanted to see just how far people will go. So a new campaign started in which Bethesda would give every Bethesda game release to a couple for free as long as they named their child Dovahkiin. There was a slight catch, the child had to be born during the launch day of the game.


#8 Homefront

Homefront is a game that follows a story of Korea overtaking the United States and players taking part in a resistance movement. What better way to promote the game then by releasing a ton of balloons? Yeah, apparently a PR firm released a ton of balloons to promote the game and they ended up landing in the San Francisco Bay. It ended up being a $7,000 fine by the water control officials.


#7 God of War 2

You’re all aware of the God of War franchise. This is no kids game as it features a wide range of mature subject matter. So how do you capitalize on a marketing party to help get the word out for God of War 2? Apparently, you mix in the Greece settings, toss in some authentic food choices, oh and also throw in topless women along with a dead goat. Yeah, things seemed to have been just as mature for the God of War 2 marketing party as the game showcases, just without the god-killing. The biggest uproar came from an actual dead goat carcass which was put up as a prop to be a sacrifice. From what we gather it doesn’t look like the goat was actually killed in front of reporters, but still, it got a lot of negative attention which resulted in Sony making some drastic changes to how they handled marketing events going forward.


#6 Burnout 2

Burnout is your standard arcade style racing video game. This series is well known and its especially known for over the top speeds, near misses and ultimately, massive crashes. There’s a real charm about going as fast as you possibly can during a busy roadway within a video game. When you crash, no one gets hurt, the game simply respawns your vehicle and you’re off once again. It’s a rinse and repeat type of situation, but that’s of course in a video game. What was completely bizarre was the publishers behind Burnout 2: Point of Impact had the idea of mixing their latest video game with real life. When the game released in 2001, Acclaim Entertainment thought it would be a good idea to advertising that they would pay anyone’s speeding ticket if it was issued during the launch day of their game. This was only a promotion during the UK and a few years later the company went out of business. We can’t believe someone actually thought this was a good idea.


#5 Splinter Cell: Conviction

Getting an innocent fan of a series killed is certainly not something a publisher has in mind to promote a video game title, but that was almost the case for Splinter Cell: Conviction. This title was being promoted in New Zealand and the marketing team behind it had the idea of getting a fan to roleplay a character from it. One person was selected to be the enemy and was dressed up and given a fake gun where their location was to reach a store. Well, it didn’t take long before folks got freaked out and dialed emergency services. Police arrived and the suspect was almost shot.


#4 Sony Advertisements

Wow, we can’t even pick just one ad but Sony sure loves to make some really off the wall advertisements for their consoles. At the very least they keep your attention and you’ll remember it so I guess it works but we’re still not sure who comes up with them.


#3 Watch Dogs

Video game publishers love crafting up something unique to deliver publications when it comes to reviewing or covering their video game titles. You’ll get the standard edition of the game and maybe a few little items or packaging that is made to resemble the game or setting. So when Ubisoft sent out promotional copies of their Watch Dogs video game, they decided to lock it in a black briefcase. They sent out messages to the publications that were receiving this edition of the marketing bundle but one publication failed to get the message. Ninemsn is a publication based in Australia when they received the black briefcase with a note saying to check their voicemail.

Failing to check the voicemail, the publication started to try different combinations to open the briefcase when it started to beep. This lead to a panic which ultimately resulted in the building to be evacuated and a bomb squad to deal with the package. When it was forced open they discovered a copy of Watch Dogs. Ubisoft apologized for the misunderstanding especially since the publication doesn’t even cover video games.


#2 Xbox One

Oh man, what a dumpster fire Microsoft made when it was revealing the Xbox One. Before this console released, there was a wide range of problems gamers had with the system and it was just simple little things that Microsoft could have done away with. There were so many restrictions that made the Xbox One just a paperweight, an expensive one as well. Not only did you have to throw down $500 but you would lose the ability to play video games while not being connected to the internet. Gamers couldn’t play pre-owned games without throwing down some money and you were forced to use a Kinect which had to be connected. It was like a Big Brother machine, peering in and watching you. Furthermore, there was a big move to make an Xbox One a media console rather than just focusing on video games. A series of bad movements that created a whirlwind of hate towards Microsoft. It didn’t take Microsoft very long to back down and make these changes prior to the console release, but we’ll never forget the E3 that Sony capitalized on just how ridiculous Microsoft was being.


#1 Shadowman 2

Shadowman: 2econd Coming had a rather tasteless promotion to help market the game and wouldn’t you know it, Acclaim Entertainment was behind this one too. This company had no shortages of bad ideas for marketing such as encouraging reckless driving. We’re not going to get into the history of the franchise, but to set up the marketing aspect, the game deals with resurrection. What better way to advertise a video game that deals with bringing back someone to life than by using a cemetery as your billboard. Acclaim Entertainment thought it would be a good idea to stick small advertising billboards on tombstones. Now when the families who come to mourn the passing of their loved ones could get a heads up about a video game releasing in the near future. Seriously, not a cool move Acclaim.