By Spacetrucking 21 Comments
Sure, the occasional game like Chronicles of Riddick can leverage the celebrity hype and grab attention of non-players for a few addition sales. But what about the rest (99%) of the games that have disinterested celebrities or sports persons reading straight from a prompt screen ? Take Blur for example:
Now here is a game by Bizarre, makers of PGR (a Pretty Good Racing series) and Geometry Wars (one of the best XBLA games). So instead of leveraging their existing gaming history, they decide to hire a failed INDY/NASCAR driver who's only real claim to fame in the racing world is that she's got boobs. On top of this, she looks so disinterested in the whole thing that it might actually be off putting to people who don't know anything about Bizarre or Blur. I'm definitely not the target audience for this particular ad but then again, who is ? I doubt anyone is stupid enough to check out a game just because Danica Patrick said it's awesome. Racing enthusiasts really have no interest in her actual racing abilities or opinions on games. Gaming enthusiasts probably don't even know her, except that she kind of looks hot. What is the point of grabbing her for this ad, when you can use perfectly good, cheaper and better alternatives like a decent PR person (like CliffyB of Epic, 402 of IW ) or a developer who knows what they are talking about (See Christina Norman's intro to all ME2 classes) ? What am I missing here ? (don't say boobs)
If you reaaaally want to leverage celebrities, then put them in your game and make good use of their talents. (See Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3 for good examples). At the end of the day, it's the quality of the product and performance of the celebrity that really matters. The presence of Keith David or Ron Perlman is at least interesting to me because they have a history of delivering solid VO in games. I know the Arbiter is going to yell "Stay Frosty!" with energy and enthusiasm, and not like a drunken hobo who just happen to wander into the studio; looking at you Ironside. :(
The broader question is simply who are game companies targeting with celebrity tie-ins ? Do they know what their gaming audiences want ? I think at least the GB community is far more likely to buy a game if they are simply shown clear and honest gameplay footage by someone who knows what they are talking about. If they happen to be a celebrity, awesome! If not, who cares ?