Do celebrity endorsements work for games ?

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 ?

20 Comments
21 Comments
Posted by Spacetrucking

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 ?

Posted by Capum15

Boo-oh...damn it. 
 
I do agree though, if you want "celebrity" endorsements, you should get people who are interesting in the game or can at least act like it, and are somewhat known (like you said, Keith David and Ron Perlman, got shivers when I heard the Civ V trailer even though I've never played a Civilization game, it was awesome).
 
If they like what they're doing, they'll generally be better and most of the time it'll make you more interested in what they say. Also, Keith David is awesome.

Posted by The_A_Drain

For me personally, it depends entirely who it is associated with the product, and what their involvement is. 
 
Celebrity voice work, provided they are good with voice work (Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Sam Jackson etc) will increase my interest, but not effect my purchase decision much unless it's Ron Perlman. I WILL buy anything with Ron Perlman in it, thankfully most of the stuff he's in (Afro Samurai (the series anyway) and Fallout) are good products. Turok not so much. 
 
As for like, people being in the games, or being very heavily involved such as Vin Deisal in Riddick and Wheelman, well, again I don't think it effects my purchase decision much. The exceptio being Vin Diesal because I respect him for being a massive gamer himself as well as owning a games studio and wanting to produce video games. So I will buy anything with his name on to support that.

Posted by Mono_Listo

Hmmm, I can hardly remember any celebrity endorsements for games. There were those World of Warcraft commercials. Man that's all I can think of. And apparently, they were effective.

Posted by Apathylad

I actually think celebrity endorsements helped Nintendo gain mainstream appeal. Having actresses playing casual games could attract newer audiences to their games. 
 
  

    
 
 
 
  I can only imagine what ads will be like for the 3DS... maybe like this:

Posted by fwylo

I really don't feel affected by them.  But I have a Visa because of Morgan Freeman's voice on their commercials FOR SURE.

Posted by bartok

No because even Clubber Lang can't get me to play World of Warcraft.

Posted by Brians

nope

Posted by PenguinDust

I don't believe celebrity endorsements help in the slightest, however celebrities talking about games they enjoy in a very casual way can probably help a game in the same way that a celebrity talking about a favored charity can bring attention to that cause.   Seeing Beyoncé Knowles in a DSi ad isn't going to get me to buy the system because she's seen with it any more than video of Wilmer Valderrama playing Halo at a Microsoft event will.  Now, Robin Williams talking about the Legend of Zelda on Letterman, that's kind of cool.  

Online
Edited by FrankCanada97
@Killjoi: First of all, yes Danica Patrick is an underperforming IndyCar driver. In fact, the four other women in the series, except Milka Duno, are much better drivers. (Some of them are more attractive). But she isn't a "failed" driver, she finished fifth in the Championship last year. If you think she is a failed driver, you obviously don't understand the sport well enough. So lets not talk about any driver's proficiency in racing before understanding the situation. Celebrity endorsements can work if they have a genuine interest in the product. However, if they appear bored and out of touch like Patrick, obviously its not going to work.
Posted by Video_Game_King
Posted by ZombiePie

No and I fucking hate those Mr. T commercials for World of Warcraft.

Moderator
Posted by RandomInternetUser

No, because basically all celebrities have no real interest and you can see right through their act.  I think it's quite a pathetic attempt at marketing.  In fact, it turns me off the game rather than make me want it more. 

Posted by Ryax
@ZombiePie said:
" No and I fucking hate those Mr. T commercials for World of Warcraft. "
the truth. 
 
a celebrity has never made me buy a game, and never will. unless brad pitt does an endorsement. i dont even care what game
Posted by The_A_Drain
@xobballox said:
" No, because basically all celebrities have no real interest and you can see right through their act.  I think it's quite a pathetic attempt at marketing.  In fact, it turns me off the game rather than make me want it more.  "
 
It really depends who it is and what they are selling. 
 
People like Robbin Williams, Vin Diesal and etc really do have an avid interest in games. Others, like you say, are just putting on an act to sell a product.
Posted by RandomInternetUser
@The_A_Drain: Yeah, Robin Williams and Vin Diesel are the only two actors I can be alright with endorsing something, because they're the only two I know that actually have an interest in games.  Especially Vin Diesel since he has his own studio thing.
Posted by Gaff
 Ice T disagrees.
Posted by WalkerTR77

Why not just get Gordon Brown to present that video? It's not like he could be any less interesting than she is. I can't say that I would be inclined to buy a game because of a celebrity, it's not like their involvement can improve the game, just the casting and that's never going to be enough to make a shitty game worthwhile.

Posted by BlaineBlaine

I'm just posting here because it seems like these threads got locked when the spam was removed. Hoping this will help. Sorry for any disturbance.

Posted by Pezen

If they mention things outside of context, I might take it seriously, but inside a PR machine? Never. As for whether it works or not, probably a small percentage of the time, considering if it never worked they probably wouldn't bother with luring celebrities to endorse their product.

Posted by CitizenKane
@BlaineBlaine said:
" I'm just posting here because it seems like these threads got locked when the spam was removed. Hoping this will help. Sorry for any disturbance. "
Don't worry.  This happens every now and then.  Everything gets sorted out pretty quickly.