So I'm sitting here watching the Champion's League final between Barcelona and Manchester Utd. It's the biggest club football match in Europe and millions of people tune in to watch it on TV. The half-time whistle blows and the inevitable irony occurs when the presenter says "It's been an action packed half and we have plenty of stuff to talk about with our pundits. So instead of talking about it, we're going to watch some adverts". OK, maybe it wasn't those exact words, but it might as well have been. Either way, the ironic things TV presenters say isn't the point of this blog, it's the content of the adverts.
After an advert for the newest Ford Focus (an advert which claims the car can park itself in a tight space, and proceeds to show the car parking itself in a space big enough for a bus) an advert for Modern Warfare 3 comes on. A game not due out until November. That's 6 months away. Soon after, an advert for Battlefield 3 is shown. A game that is yet to have a solid release date, but is certainly still many months away from release. It got me thinking, who are these adverts aimed at? Are they actually going to do anything to increase sales? And how much does such a prime advertising slot cost?
For some bizarre reason, I'll answer my third question first. After a little bit of googling I found an article from digitalspy.co.uk claiming that a 30 second ad slot during ITV's coverage of the match is estimated to cost £200,000 (that's about $330,000). That's actually less than I was expecting, but remember ITV is only broadcasting to the UK, and I'm willing to bet that Activision and EA would have also had these adverts running on other European stations. It's all going to add up and will end up costing a whole lot of money. And even if it is just a drop in the ocean for a company the size of Activision or EA, what is the benefit? Is an advert this far out really going to help generate sales? If not, the advert is completely pointless, isn't it?
This is how I see it - People like you and I, people who frequent video game websites obviously aren't the target audience. We've already seen the trailers, we've already read about the two levels the press have seen and someone has even put one of the trailers to a fitting new soundtrack. It's pretty safe to say that you're either already hyped for the game, or nothing is going to get you hyped for it. A television advert isn't going to make any difference. So who is it aimed at? It must be the more general game playing public. The type of guy who picks up the latest FIFA, CoD & Need For Speed games, and maybe other games they've seen advertised that look cool. They don't visit Giant Bomb, they don't care about game announcements and they don't watch trailers online.
But do these people care about a game coming out in November? That's so far away, I can just imagine the thought process of one of these guys going from "Sweet, a new CoD game. Can't wait to play that" to "November? Fuck that. Why would I care about this now?" through the course of the advert. And even if it did appeal to them and get them hyped for the game, is it really going to have more of an impact than them seeing an advert for it a week before release? I don't think it will. I certainly can't see the early adverts generating enough sales to offset the cost of them.
That's my two cents on it. It seems mostly common sense. Maybe I'm missing something obvious that the business executives in Activision & EA are aware of.